When it comes to crime, our society – like many others – is caught at a difficult crossroads: we want to punish those who commit crime, but we also want to rehabilitate them. This is why we have pardons for certain types of offenders, provided they qualify and want help in getting their lives back on track. Recent changes in the criminal code have motivated an increasing number of Canadians to ask if the rate of pardons is increasing or decreasing. The statistics paint an interesting picture of what’s really happening.
Recent criminal law changes
In the past few years, a wave of political sentiment has pushed our government to be “tougher on crime.” Despite crime being at near historic lows, there are still a large number of property, theft, and drug crimes reported each year. This has startled people, and they in turn have supported tougher legislation to help prevent this type of crime.
For example, our government has enacted mandatory minimums, and increasingly inflexible laws that persecute petty crimes. Fewer defendants are pleading guilty, and court trials are increasing.
Stricter rules in regards to pardons
The government enacted changes in the spring of 2012 that changed the application fees for a pardon. The price skyrocketed from $150 to over $600. This was generally seen as harsh and unfair to those seeking forgiveness for their past transgressions. The waiting times were also changed from 3-5 years to 5-10 years depending on conviction. To top things off, some offences were deemed ineligible for pardons.
Change in the numbers
The biggest change isn’t necessarily only in the numbers granted, but also in the number of applications received. Receiving a pardon is sometimes the only legitimate way for people to get back in to society after paying their dues following a crime. While it is important to note that those judged as a threat to reoffend are rarely ever granted pardons in any case, both the number of applications received and pardons granted in recent years have dramatically decreased.
The stricter guidelines governing pardons make it all the more important to have qualified experts on your side throughout the entire Canadian pardon application process, from finding out if you qualify to the procedure required in obtaining the pardon.