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PG-Mackenzie MLA says increased resources targeting prolific offenders should have been done sooner

“It’s still going to take three years to get to the capacity we need today,”

That’s from Prince George-Mackenzie BC Liberal MLA Mike Morris after the provincial government announced steps to deal with violent repeat offenders.

Yesterday (Tuesday), Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says 76 new positions would be added across the justice system including crown counsel, BC Prosecution staff, and four full-time corrections officials.

In total, it’s a 25-million-dollar investment over three years.

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Morris told Vista Radio that while this is a step in the right direction, these changes should have been made five years earlier.

“Anybody working in public safety knew that these changes should have been made back in 2017 and 2018 when the case law was established by the courts and the changes to the Criminal Code were presented right across the country.”

“The frustrating part for me is when I look at the numbers and the crown counsel and the teams they are all putting together – this is all a step in the right direction – they say it will be up in operation by April 1st and over three years they will build it up to this capacity they announced, which is good but it is still going to take that span of time to get there when in fact we need that today,” added Morris.

“In the meantime, how many more victims are we going to have out there as a result of these prolific offenders out at large, recommitting crimes.”

Morris, who is a retired RCMP officer and former Solicitor General under the Christy Clark government from December 2015 to July 2017 believes the spike in crown counsel and BC prosecution staff will ease the case backlog staffers currently endure – but one key question still needs to be answered.

“42 people specifically focusing on this will make a difference there is no doubt about it but will it be enough? We have 90 courts throughout the province with some areas not being served as much. There is a lot that a prosecutor has to keep in mind and a lot of information that the prosecutor needs to ensure that the judge can make the right decision at the end of the day.”

Lastly, Morris mentioned he is glad Ottawa will take another look at bail reform, potentially keeping some of these violent offenders in custody. The MLA noted his waiting “with baited breath” as to how far the federal legislative changes will go.

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