Posts Tagged ‘indeterminate sentence’

“Youths Given Hard Labor,” The Globe and Mail. October 27, 1938. Page 03.

Barrie, Oct. 26 (Special). – Magistrate Compton Jeffs today sentenced three youthful burglars who entered Reeves jewelry store here at an early hour on October 14, stealing more than $2,000 worth of watches, rings and cigaret holders. The loot was recovered two days later in a house at 26 Beatty Avenue, Toronto, through the efforts of Toronto police detectives and local police.

His Worship meted out terms of twelves months definite plus twelve indeterminate, at hard labor, in the Ontario reformatory, to each of the three youths.

Mike Kornick, aged 18, no address, and Alex. Young, aged 18, no address, pleaded guilty a week ago to breaking and entering. Walter Andrews, aged 22, residing on Beatty Avenue, Toronto, where the loot was recovered by Toronto detectives, pleaded guilty to receiving stolen goods.

Magistrate Jeffs treated each alike in passing sentence. Charges of receiving had been withdrawn against two others.

‘I am influenced to this extent,’ he said. ‘When you consider the deliberate and extensive looting, my first idea was that it was a case for Portsmouth Penitentiary, but in view of what has been said as to your youth, and in hope that leniency may have some influence on you, I have decided that your sentence will be served in Ontario reformatory.’

Crown Attorney F. A. Hammond, K.C. pointed out that Young had a record dating back to 1935, and that both he and Kornick had used aliases

Read Full Post »

“Lisa Neve was once Canada’s most dangerous woman. In 1994, she was jailed indefinitely and became one one of only four Canadian women in history to be given a dangerous offender designation.

She hasn’t spoken publicly since that dangerous offender status was controversially overturned back in 1999 and she was released. On Tuesday she sat in front of a Senate committee to testify on the human rights of prisoners in the federal correctional system.

The Senate committee on human rights is conducting a “comprehensive cross-country study” and was in Edmonton for what it calls a “fact-finding mission,” looking into what really goes on inside local correctional facilities.

“I want people to know you can’t take away someone’s life and tell them they are unredeemable at 21 years old,” Neve told Global News in an interview. “I’m not Canada’s most dangerous woman. I’m Lisa Neve. I’m a sister, a partner, a friend.”

Neve has more than 20 convictions on her record ranging from forcible confinement to aggravated assault. She said the convictions stem from five incidents.

She left home when she was just 12 years old and was in and out of correctional centres starting at the age of 15. Neve lived with mental health issues and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She said being put on medications to help regulate the illness changed her life.

“I’ve had a crazy life,” Neve said. “When the judge said my sentence expires at my natural time of death, that was the most profound thing.”

Neve said knowing she would never get her life back inspired her to make a change. She said she was also deeply affected by victim impact statements given in court.

“There are all of these people testifying about all of these horrible things you’ve done and it makes you feel less than human,” she said. “You hurt these people with no regard until it’s too late. You can’t say sorry.”

Neve said she heard similar stories while going through a victim-reconciliation program while she was incarcerated.

“It has an immense impact on the way you feel,” she said. “You don’t know the impact until you hear a full story.”

Neve testified that the program helped her to change her life around and would see benefits if more programs like it are introduced in more correctional facilities.

What she doesn’t want to see more of is dangerous offender designations, especially for women.

“It’s got to stop,” she said. “Women who have been declared dangerous offenders, if you put them up against a man it’s so vastly different.”

“If a woman acts violent it’s appalling,” Neve continued. “It’s like they’ve gone against every gender [stereotype] available.”

It’s something Senator Kim Pate, who is on the Human Rights Committee, agrees with, while pointing out that the majority of dangerous offenders in Canada are Indigenous, like Neve, who is Métis.

“We should really take pause because many of them have histories of abuse,” Pate said.

According to Correctional Service Canada, in 2016, 681 people were serving sentences with a dangerous offender designation.

In response to 1969’s Ouimet report, the federal government repealed the habitual offender and dangerous sexual offender rules in 1977 and introduced the current dangerous offender system.

“I think we need a similar review,” Pate said, adding it should include long-term sentences along with “people who have been sentenced [at] essentially every other stage in our society.””

– Quinn Ohler,

“Former dangerous offender Lisa Neve speaks about her once notorious designation: ‘You lose all hope’.” Global News, August 8, 2018.

Read Full Post »

“Habitual Criminal Charge Asked,” Montreal Gazette. July 7, 1956. Page 03.

Boastful Convict Could Get Life Imprisonment

The Quebec Attorney General’s department has been asked to approve a charge of ‘habitual criminalism’ against 28-year-old Fernand Dube, cocky, talkative penitentiary escapee who was quoted yesterday as saying: ‘We won’t be in the pen a year from now.’

Dube and his two partners in the June 29 escape from St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary – Gilles Hamel, 20, and Gaston Martel, 25 – were lodged in separate cells last night, under constant police guard, pending their court appearance on Monday or Tuesday.

The charge against Dube is getting special study because it is the man’s fifth break from the prison where he is serving a 16-year sentence.

PRovincial Police Det.-Capt. Leopold Troftier told The Gazette yesterday that the Montreal headquarters had submitted the request for a habitual criminal charge ‘because of this man’s record.’

For Life
Conviction on such a charge implies life improisonment under the wording ‘imprisonment for an indeterminate time at the leisure of Her Majesty.’

It was recalled that only one such conviction has been made in Quebec, and it was the first in Canada. This was eight years ago when Johnny Young, a narcotics racketeer, was found guilty of habitual criminalism. He is now in St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary.

The charge was laid aainst Young immediately after his conviction and sentence of five years for handling $180,000 worth of heroin.

Two other men since then have faced charges of habitual criminalism in Quebec courts, but oth were acquitted of the charge although they were sentenced to five and 10 years’ imprisonment.

Both Dube and Hamel will face trial here on charges of escape and armed robbery at the Provincial Bank branch at Yamachiche, near Three Rivers, during their hectic six days of freedom. They were captured by Provincial Police officers Thursday near Quebec Bridge after police fired six shots to flush them from their hiding place in thick bushland.

Loot Found
Police recovered $18,584 of an estimated $21,000 stolen from the Yamachiche bank.

In Montreal detetcive office cells, under 24-hour police guard, is Martel, the last of the trio to be captured.

He will face charges of escape and armed robbery of the St. Jean Baptiste branch of the Caisse Populaire on Rachel St. East, where an estimated $4,000 was taken.

City police said $2716 of this sum has been recovered.

Hamel, the mildest and youngest of the three convicts, will also receive special police attention. He was reported to have first fallen afoul of the law as a 13-year-old when he was sent to reform school for two years for theft of $1 worth of merchandise from a Drummondville five-and-10-cent store.

Ran Away
After spending a year at the institution, he ran away but was returned to serve a five-year term there. He was re-arrested some six months ago on breaking and entering and theft charges.

He has never had aa chance from the very start,’ a veteran Provincial Police officer explained. ‘He is only 20 years old and has spent a little less than half his life so far in jail.’ 

Possible additional charges are being studied against Hamel. He was reported to be ‘co-operating with police on at least three cases of safecracking and breaking and entering in the Victoriaville area prior to his detention in prison six months ago.’

Held for questioning in Martel’s capture at Sherbrooke and Napoleon Sts. early yesterday are three women and two other men. Their names were withheld by police pending investigation.

Martel was sentenced last year to 10 years in prison on two convictions of robbing Caisse Populaire branches in Montreal.

Provincial Police found a .22 calibre rifle, sawed down to pistol size and blackened with shoe polish to resemble an automatic.

‘We found this following the arrest of Dube and Hamel,’ Provincial Police officers said. ‘It is a powerful single-shot weapon and highly-dangerous at close range.

Dube, described as the ringleader, was the most talkative of the three yesterday.

After describing the escape he was quoted as saying: ‘After fleeing to Ville St. Michel and getting our sawed-off gun, we split up after Martel failed to show up at the rendezvous.’

Martel was believed to have headed for Ottawa where he spent several days of freedom.

‘We stayed in a Montreal tourist room until Monday night and then left the island with a friend who supplied a car,’ Dube is reported to have told police officers.

Read Full Post »

“Balkan Hero Sentenced,” Toronto Globe. March 28, 1914. Page 07.

Is Given Three Years for Stabbing Fellow-countryman.

Paul Metkoff, a Balkan war hero, was a thirst for blood which seems hand to satisfy, who yesterday he was sentenced to three years in the Kingston Penitentiary for stabbing a fellow-countryman, George Gloffkoff, with whom he had been living for five months. When he learned his sentence he became very violent and yelled and shouted in a frantic manner.

Metkoff, who is only nineteen years old, quarrelled with Gloffkoff over the latter’s wife, and the result was that Gloffkoff was severely stabbed in the neck.

For a whole hour the prisoner kept up a roar of rage, in his cell and when Detective Elliott went in to have him photographed and measured he had a severe tussel with the man, who acted like a madman. He was covered with blood caused by hurling himself against the iron bars and rolling on the floor.

Read Full Post »


In 1927, The Boys’ Farm considered another strategy for increasing its population:

The Secretary [Owen Dawson] stated that The Boys’ Farm might enlarge its sphere of usefulness if the juvenile age were increased from 16 to 18 years, as provided for in an amendment to the Juvenile Delinquents Act. The President [Beatty] felt that the matter might be taken up with the Federal Government some time in the near future (March 31, 1927).

Reform schools in other provinces had already opposed the policy of extending the jurisdiction of the juvenile court to include boys up to the age of 18 (rather than 16) and continued to oppose the policy in 1929 when the federal government revised the Juvenile Delinquents Act. The issue pitted the interests of existing reform schools against the zeal of juvenile justice reformers who
wished to extend childhood status to older juveniles.

In order to understand why reform schools elsewhere in Canada resisted the age extension policy and why The Boys’ Farm temporarily considered its advantages, it is necessary to look at the effects of juvenile court practices on the populations of reform schools.  

The Montreal juvenile court’s extensive use of probation radically reduced the number of children committed to reform schools during the early 1920s. However, many children originally placed on probation got into trouble again and were older when judges subsequently decided to send them to reform schools. The court’s practice of probation, in other words, eventually produced an upturn in the number of children committed to reform schools. And because these
children were older (often having failed more than once on probation), the court’s practice of committing children only after they had spent time on probation resulted in older populations at reform schools.

While the juvenile court’s jurisdiction was limited to children under 16, the practice of probation in combination with the court’s right to supervise the children who appeared before it up to the age of 21 made it possible for the court to commit children who were 16 years and older to reform schools:

The authority of the juvenile court to impose sanctions does not end with the original disposition of the child. Provision is made in the Act to bring the child back before the court at any time before he has reached the age of twenty-one years. This is extraordinary since the maximum age for original jurisdiction is sixteen or eighteen years of age …. This provision is often invoked when a child has been placed on probation and has subsequently breached one of the conditions of supervision (Wilson, 1982:194).

The aging of reform school populations was evident at The Boys’ Farm during the mid-1930s. At that time, the jurisdiction of the Montreal juvenile court was still limited to boys under the age of 16; yet Boys’ Farm records for boys discharged during the late 1930s show that 23 out of 143 boys were 17 and older on their sentencing date. Thirty-three more were aged 16, though they may have committed their offense prior to their 16th birthday. The aging of reform school populations occurred earlier in provinces such as Ontario where
well-developed probation services were in place before the juvenile court was created. When the federal Minister of Justice, Ernest Lapointe, (at the urging of the Canadian Council of Child Welfare and other juvenile justice reformers) introduced an amendment to the federal Juvenile Delinquents Act in 1921 which would raise the age of juveniles from 16 to 18, Ontario’s reform schools were in a different position to appreciate its consequences than were Quebec’s reform schools. The Boys’ Farm could appreciate the potential advantages of an age extension as a way of reversing the decline in its population (as the board’s discussion of the amendment in 1927). Ontario’s reform schools, on the other hand, saw the age extension as a policy that would simply exaggerate the process already at work: namely, the commitment to their institutions of an increasingly older group of repeat offenders. Their position was that the age extension should wait until new and more prison-like reform schools were created specifically for this older group. (The borstal schools in England were favored as a model.) Their resistance to the amendment successfully blocked the proposed mandatory extension of age. Instead, the amendment granted discretionary authority to provinces to extend the age from 16 to 18..

The age extension continued to pit the interests of reform schools against those of juvenile justice reformers. In 1938, The Royal Commission to Investigate the Penal System of Canada completed two years of hearings and investigations into the Canadian penitentiary system, including the system for dealing with juvenile offenders. The Archambault Report (named after the chairman of the commission) said:

Many conflicting representations were made to the Commission as to whether the age limit of those to come under the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts should be raised throughout Canada to include young persons below the age of eighteen years. Your Commissioners are definitely of the opinion that the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts should be limited to children below the age of sixteen years …. The problem of detention homes and training schools would be clearly aggravated, and, in our opinion, has been aggravated (in British Columbia and Manitoba) where the age limit has been increased.

By this time, The Boys’ Farm was enjoying a population boom. Its superintendent, Major Willcock, told the administration committee:

A great many more boys were appearing repeatedly in the Juvenile Court before being sent to The Farm, resulting in boys coming to the School at the ages of 15 or 16 and generally for longer terms. It was suggested that more boys might be sent by the Juvenile Court and for shorter terms. Mr. Dawson undertook to take the matter up with the Juvenile Court authorities (Administration Committee minutes, November 24, 1938). 

At this point, The Boys’ Farm administrators were beginning to perceive older boys sent for longer terms as “hard core” and more troublesome residents. They began to favor shorter terms, therefore, in the hope that the court would send younger and less troublesome boys. When Quebec extended the juvenile age from 16 to 18 in 1942, The Boys’ Farm was already crowded. The influx of older boys over the next several years, amplified by the court’s practice of turning to reform school commitments during wartime, added to the internal problems of control that already existed as a result of overcrowding and an older population.

The number of runaways rose (and, incidentally, divided the board on the issue of whether to pursue runaway boys who wished to enlist in the army); the use of corporal punishment continued to rise; and concern mounted over the exposure of younger boys to the influence of older boys more experienced with crime. When the Second World War ended and reform school commitments fell to pre-war levels, The Boys’ Farm administrators saw a second, and more fundamental, consequence of the age extension. Because the court sent older boys to The Boys’ Farm (and to the other reform schools for French-speaking children), it was increasingly reluctant to commit younger boys there, where they would be exposed to the influence of older boys. By 1948, the population at The Boys’ Farm had dwindled to about 100 boys, and it was fast becoming the last resort for the hard-core, older offender that it had originally set out not to be. Moreover, The Boys’ Farm had long since come to appreciate what Ontario’s reform schools appreciated in 1921: namely, that as an increasingly older group of juveniles were defined as children rather than as adults, and sent to reform schools rather than to adult jails and penitentiaries, existing reform schools would have to become juvenile prisons unless or until newer juvenile prisons for this older group were created. Even then, reform schools, if they were to survive, would have to lay new claim to the younger, “normal delinquent” boys they had lost and would continue to lose as the result of probation, foster homes, short-term sentences, and other decarcerating measures.

– Prue Rains, McGill University, “Juvenile Justice and the Boys’ Farm: Surviving A Court-Created Population Crisis, 1909-1948.” Social Problems, Vol. 31, No. 5, June 1984. pp. 509-12

Photographs are both Conrad Poirier, “Boy’s Farm and Training School, Shawbridge.” 1947-11, P48.S1.P15234 & P48.S1.P15221, BAnQ. 

Read Full Post »

The federal Juvenile Delinquents Act (1908) did not mention the indefinite sentence directly; nor did the detailed commentaries on the federal legislation by its authors and promoters. And since the Quebec legislation (1910) simply proclaimed the federal act as relevant to Quebec and authorized the creation of a juvenile court in Montreal, it also did not mention the indefinite sentence directly. But definite sentences were not mentioned either. Juvenile justice reformers, and the text of the legislation itself, so clearly favored methods
for dealing with children other than incarceration that the commitment of children to reform schools was itself scarcely mentioned. The indefinite sentence was, nevertheless, a core tenet in the movement to reform children rather than to punish them. It was implicit in the discretionary powers and wardship hold over children given to the juvenile court by the act, and in the law’s provision that the court should not authorize a child’s release without a recommendation from
the reform school. This provision was intended to permit reform schools to release children when successfully reformed rather than at some arbitrary date; fully implemented, this provision would have transferred control over the length of children’s sentences from the juvenile court to the reform school.

Judges at the Montreal juvenile court were reluctant to sentence children to indefinite terms. In 1922, Superintendent Barss of The Boys’ Farm observed at a board meeting that the indefinite sentence was not being used by judges at the Montreal juvenile court; and in 1924, the secretary-treasurer, Owen Dawson, reported that the newly appointed judge of the Montreal court was “not a believer in the Indefinite Sentence as provided by the Juvenile Delinquents Act” (January
31, 1924). Judges at the Montreal court were not only trained as lawyers but still worked in courts other than the juvenile court; they continued to adhere to an older model of justice, and were reluctant to turn their control of sentence length over to reform schools.

The Boys’ Farm began to lobby for the indefinite sentence in 1922. In March, E. W. Beatty, president of The Boys’ Farm, reported to the board that: 

He had gone into the question of the indefinite sentence with [premier] Taschereau, the Provincial Secretary, and Sir Lomer Gouin [former premier], all of whom were in favor of the plan (March 8, 1922).’

It may seem odd that the board of directors first approached executive rather than legal or judicial authorities about implementing indefinite sentences. Eventually the board did seek a legal interpretation of the Juvenile
Delinquents Act (1908). Because the act was federal legislation enacted provincially by executive proclamation, however, there was some ambiguity about which authority was responsible for interpretation of the act. The board’s initial approach also reflected its own contacts and prior experience with provincial authorities about institutional matters. These were customarily handled by the provincial secretary. The Boy’s Farm favored indefinite sentences for two reasons: to increase its control over troublesome inmates; and to counter the effects of short sentences on its population [and thus its revenue].

In part, The Boys’ Farm’s preference for the indefinite sentence was an extension of its earlier efforts to gain control over the decision to release or parole. In the early 1900s, all reform schools in Quebec objected to government pardons as a form of early release, arguing that early release (parole) should depend on good conduct alone. Definite sentences limited the effectiveness of
parole as a device for maintaining internal control; in fact, the most troublesome boys, by definition, were the most likely to be still at The Boys’ Farm when their sentences expired. In the early 1920s, The Boys’ Farm made persistent and largely unsuccessful attempts to persuade the provincial secretary to extend the sentences of boys “unfit for discharge.” For example:

The Superintendent submitted a list of 14 boys whose time expires before the close of this year and who were entirely unfit for discharge. He recommended that the provincial Secretary be requested to extend their terms. The President [Beatty] reported that he had an appointment with the Hon. Mr. David [the provincial secretary] for the following morning, when he would request him to grant a temporary extension of the terms of the boys referred to until their cases could be more carefully studied (June 21, 1922).

Four months later, Beatty reported:

The request for the extension of the terms of the 14 boys at The Farm had been refused by the Provincial Secretary. The question had [subsequently] been a matter of serious discussion between himself [Beatty] and [Taschereau] and the Hon. Walter Mitchell [provincial treasurer]. The [premier] requested that in future all such matters be taken up direct with him (October 26, 1922).

Because The Boys’ Farm only occasionally succeeded in having the sentences of individual boys extended, it turned to the indefinite sentence as a method for gaining control over the release, and therefore conduct, of its more troublesome boys.

The population at The Boys’ Farm could be increased either by more court commitments or by longer sentences. Attempts by The Boys’ Farm to lengthen the sentences of boys it regarded unfit for discharge addressed the issue of population as well as the issue of internal control. But The Boys’ Farm was concerned with the length of sentences for another reason, too. The Montreal juvenile court was increasingly implementing the principles of the juvenile justice movement.

Not only was it placing more boys on probation rather than committing them to reform schools, but it was also reducing sentences for those it did commit from the previous three-to-five years down to two years or less. Shorter sentences added to the population troubles created by the greater use of probation. While the board of directors could not reasonably hope to increase the number of boys committed to The Boys’ Farm by opposing the use of probation, it could at least hope to increase the population by invoking the Juvenile Delinquents Act of 1908 to gain control over the lengths of their sentences.

Faced with continuing resistance on the part of judges to the use of the indefinite sentence, The Boys’ Farm planned a legal challenge to the definite sentence in 1924. Walter Mitchell, provincial treasurer under both Gouin and Taschereau and, by this time, a member of the board of directors at The Boys’ Farm, offered to seek the legal opinion of his former law partner, N. K. Laflamme, and to take the matter up with Quebec’s attorney general. In February, 1924, Laflamme reported to the board that he:

… believed that the Judge of the Juvenile Court had the option of giving an indefinite sentence under the Juvenile Delinquents Act, or a definite sentence of not less than two or more than five years under the old Prisons and Reformatories Act. Mr. Laflamme stated that, in his opinion, any definite term of less than two years was illegal (February 28, 1924).

The board agreed to take the matter up with the attorney general after the legislative session ended in Quebec, and once a “parole board” had been created within The Boys’ Farm “to deal with the discharge of committed cases” (March 27, 1924). 

The Boys’ Farm eventually established procedures for allocating parole and a committee that reviewed boys for parole, but not until the 1940s when it had acquired control over the release date of boys (even then, the control was within the limit set by the definite sentence). The plan to establish a “parole board” in 1924, therefore, was something of a rhetorical device designed to express a form of control over sentences that The Boys’ Farm hoped for but did not have.

Four months later the board planned to convey the legal opinion it had solicited to the Montreal court:

The question of short-term sentences was discussed and it was agreed to admit boys from the Juvenile Court for short terms in the meantime. The Secretary was asked to convey the opinion of Mr. N. K. Laflamme in this connection to the Juvenile Court authorities and if no satisfactory conclusion was reached to take the matter up with the Hon. Walter Mitchell (June 26, 1924).

In May, 1925, the board took action to resist admission of boys for terms shorter than one year: The question of admitting short-term cases from the Juvenile Court was discussed, and it was decided to request the Judge of the Court not to send boys for a shorter period than one year (May 28, 1925). These shorter sentences also decreased the populations of reform schools because they were served in detention homes rather than reform schools. Schlossman observes: “While the juvenile court sent relatively few children to reformatories, it held large numbers on short-term sentences in the detention center before, during, and sometimes after trial.” In the absence of adequate detention facilities, the Montreal court held both French-speaking and English-speaking children at the Montreal Reformatory (the French reform school for boys). The large number of children held there “provisionally for inquiry” suggests that during the 1920s the Montreal court used short-term detention in much the same way-that is, as an alternative to outright commitment to reform schools.

In May, 1925, the board took action to resist admission of boys for terms shorter than one year:

The question of admitting short-term cases from the Juvenile Court was discussed, and it was decided to request the Judge of the Court not to send boys for a shorter period than one year (May 28, 1925).

The Boys’ Farm was not successful in convincing the court to use the indefinite sentence, but it did persuade the court to extend definite sentences. Records for boys discharged from May, 1939, to May, 1941, (and who were therefore sentenced in the mid-1930s) show that boys were sentenced for definite rather than indefinite terms. None of the 143 sentences, however, were for less than two years and most were for three, four, and five years (the mean sentence was 3.67 years). The Boys’ Farm appears, therefore, to have been successful in temporarily allaying the threat of short sentences.“ And it was successful in acquiring recognition of its right to be consulted by the court regarding the actual release date of sentenced boys:

Colonel Magee [a board member] reported that he had had a very satisfactory interview with Judge Lacroix [of the Juvenile Court] in reference to the releasing of the Wilson boys [two brothers]. The Judge has promised that he would not release any more boys without first asking for a report from the Farm management (October 30, 1924).

By 1930, the population crisis was over at The Boys’ Farm and the province’s other reform schools (the largest of these were the two French reform schools in Montreal, also supplied by the Montreal juvenile court). From 1930 to 1945, the population of the province’s reform schools reached record levels; at The Boys’ Farm it reached more than 200. While longer sentences contributed to the rise, increased court commitments were the major factor. In 1927, the number of court commitments to The Boys’ Farm had risen to pre-1920 levels and continued to climb. The population crisis had passed, but not primarily as the result of lengthened sentences.

– Prue Rains, McGill University, “Juvenile Justice and the Boys’ Farm: Surviving A Court-Created Population Crisis, 1909-1948.” Social Problems, Vol. 31, No. 5, June 1984. pp. 505-09

Photographs are both Conrad Poirier, “Boy’s Farm and Training School, Shawbridge.” 1947-11, P48.S1.P15232 & P48.S1.P15235, BAnQ. 

Read Full Post »