Sentencing Principles

Activity

Read the story and answer the questions below.

An Unforgettable Evening

Roland and two friends, all 14 years of age and over, had a few beers and began cruising the streets, hoping to find something to make their evening a little more interesting. Roland was driving too fast when the three noticed a car full of girls. They tried to catch up with the girls and attract their attention, but Roland lost control on a sharp curve and his two friends were killed. Roland was convicted of two counts of dangerous driving causing death.

Roland felt remorse for the accident, and the families of the deceased made submissions to the judge in the form of victim impact statements. In their statements, they told the judge they didn’t think a jail term was warranted. Roland had suffered enough. He had lost his two best friends and felt terrible guilt.

  1. Under what circumstances can a youth receive a custodial sentence?
  2. Do you think this is an appropriate case for a custodial sentence? Why or why not?
  3. Do the victim impact statements have any influence on your decision? How much consideration should a judge give to these statements? Is it fair for the same offence to have different punishments based on the victims’ feelings?
  4. What sentence would show this is a serious crime, that justice has been served, that victims of crime are listened to in the court system, and that others shouldn’t drink and drive dangerously?

Roland’s story is the story of a boy called Kevin Hollinsky (Ontario Supreme Court, 1991). This case is known because of the support the parents of the deceased boys showed for the accused, and for the sentence given by the judge. Kevin was banned from driving for two years. He was placed on probation and given 750 hours of community service. He agreed to speak to high school students in the Windsor, Ontario area about the tragic results of his decisions that evening. Police towed the wreckage of his vehicle to display at the school where Kevin was speaking. The father of one of the deceased boys also attended and spoke to the students to show his support for Kevin.

  1. How did this sentence compare to the one that you decided on in question one?
  2. Do you think that most parents who had lost a son would agree to this sentence? Explain your answer.
  3. Do you think that Kevin was held accountable for his actions and was his sentence a meaningful consequence for his actions? Explain your answer.
  4. If one of the purposes of sentencing is deterring others from committing a similar offence do you think that Kevin’s sentence has accomplished that goal? Explain your answer.