Toronto Star

Jan. 11, 01:00 EDT

Consistency important in legal system

Re Top judge urges action to stop youth from drifting into crime, Jan. 8.

Letter to the Editor from James L. Duncan
Toronto Star

I cannot help but think that the justice system, particularly the justices, must share some of the responsibility for youth involvement in the criminal justice system. I believe that the justices continually undermine their own authority with respect to family law orders. When orders for support are breached they are vigorously enforced, to the extent of imprisoning the offenders. In contrast, the same order for support will often contain access orders and when these orders are breached, it is often ignored by the courts with no consequences to the offender. The only consequences are to the non-custodial parents and the children, as well as society.

It is well documented that the consequences of children not having both parents involved in their life result in criminal behaviour and negative attention seeking. I believe this lack of consistency also sends a confusing message about the legal system to all Canadians, particularly youth.

If Chief Justice Roy McMurtry would review statistics, he would see that the majority of criminal offenders come from single parent homes. The effect of dual standards and biased enforcement of family law orders negate societal expectations of instilling a sense of right and wrong among these youth.

James L. Duncan

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