Mentioned in the Toronto Star (May 16, 2010) Re: Criminal Records, Pardons, and Record Suspensions…

Remember: if you are looking for a pardon or record suspension, try a Canadian Pardon | Record Suspension Service.

OK, this is a bit odd… When all the hub-bub over the proposed criminal record laws were being discussed, I was interviewed by a whole slew of media (CBC, Toronto Star, Canwest News, Goldhawk Live, etc.). In that flurry, I missed an article by the Toronto Star that actually cited me… The article was written over a week ago by Peter Small and Betsy Powell of the Toronto Star… Here’s my honourable mention:

Michael Carabash, a Toronto lawyer who has written a book on criminal records, takes issue with the government making people wait longer, which he thinks could do more harm than good.

“I don’t know if government has any particular reason on why they want to make people wait longer, other than making the government look tough on crime.”

Not having a pardon means that people with convictions remain exposed to discrimination after they’ve done their sentence, he said.

This is strictly prohibited by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which says that once you’ve been convicted and punished for a crime, you’re not to be tried or punished for it again, he said.

So Betsy had interviewed me as part of a larger story on people taking issue with the proposed changes to the Criminal Records Act. I had previously made comments in my blog to the effect that I didn’t understand why the government wanted to make people wait so long in order to be eligible for a pardon (or “record suspension”, as it is called in the proposed legislation). I also pointed out to Betsy that people with criminal records have a tough time reaching their full potential in society: they may not be able to get a job, travel to the U.S., adopt a child, immigrate to Canada, and may even be discriminated against by police, the courts, and government agencies. There’s definitely a social stigma attached to people with criminal records. And don’t forget that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that, once you’ve been convicted and punished, you’re not to be punished again! But people with criminal records are punished daily because of that stigma. And not everyone with a criminal record (e.g. for something relatively minor they may have done long ago) deserves that stigma or continual punishment. We, as a society, need that person to be productive, get a job, pay taxes, etc. That was the point that I was making…

So even though I should have realized earlier that my interview with Betsy may have ended up in the Toronto Star, I got busy with other things and forgot to follow up to see if she had actually included anything I said in her article! In the words of Homer Simpson: “Doh!” Better late than never…

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