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The public does not understand criminal justice

Yesterday, December 5th 2008, Sasan Ansari was sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter. Ansari admitted to stabbing the deceased, Joshua Goos, 33 times. The details of the crime are horrific. Ansari first stabbed Goos while they were both sitting in a parked SUV. Goos then tried to flee. He was chased down and stabbed repeatedly. It is a horrible and ghastly crime. Ansari raised a defence that he was in a dissociative state at the time, he could not remember anything that happened, it was as if his mind had shut off and his body was acting completely of its own accord. Clearly the jury accepted Ansari’s defence, at least in part.

There is now outrage about the 5 year sentence given to Ansari. The outrage stems largely from an ignorance of the criminal justice system, and the fact that Crown inflamed public sentiment by calling this a “near murder” during submissions on sentencing. There is no such thing as a “near murder” in Canada.

People usually fail to understand that our criminal justice system is one designed to serve society, not the accused/convicted and the victims. The state prosecutes crimes, the state houses criminals, and the state even compensates victims in many cases. There is a strong society interest in the criminal justice system. The point of jail sentences is not simply to punish people. It is also to protect society, but more importantly, to attempt to reform the convicted. Ansari is a prime example of a person who can truly change, truly learn from his horrible mistake, and once he has served time in prison, will hopefully dedicate at least part of his life to making amends for what he has done.

I have never been able to understand why people think the only appropriate response to a loss of life is to go out and completely ruin another life. Joshua Goos is gone from this world. I cannot imagine the pain that his family has gone through, and will continue to have to cope with for the res of their lives. I have always tried to avoid vengeance as my primary motive for anything. I would hope that if a loved one of mine were killed, that something positive could come out of their death. I would hope that their killer would come to see just how destructive their actions were and would work to make amends for their actions.

Sasan Ansari may have gotten off a little light for what he has done. A five year sentence is not out of the ordinary for the crime of manslaughter, and a convicted like Ansari. He has no criminal record. He has a strong background of community service. Though five years seems light for taking a life, Ansari’s life has been changed forever. Ansari had been a law student up until recently, it is now highly unlikely that he could ever become a lawyer. He will have to live with the shame and grief of what he has done for the rest of his life. It will be a tough road ahead for Ansari, but I think that he has a good chance of not only accepting responsibility for what he has done, but also working hard to make amends for what he has done.

The focus of our criminal justice system should not be to punish, but rather, to rehabilitate. We need to focus on rehabilitating those who are convicted, those who are victims, and society as a whole. Whenever a crime is committed there is damage to the victim, the criminal, and to society. The criminal justice system tries to address the grievances of all three parties. The public, however, usually seems bent on a lust for vengeance, which leads to nothing but more destruction and heart ache.

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December 6, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

12 Comments »

  1. Your reasoning is terribly flawed, the idea of justice has always been about punishment and serving a debt to society as well as the victim and their family, rehabiltation is not a primary goal for homicides, the person that was killed doesn’t get a second chance, why should the killer?

    According to your reasoning, it would be wise to simply give tickets for manslaughter similar to speeding tickets, after all life is cheap in your liberal utopia

    Comment by watchman | December 12, 2008 | Reply

  2. and anyway why does Ansari need ‘rehabilitation’ since he was a UBC law student and understood the laws of the country better than the average high school educated or less public.

    he brought the knife (according to the judge) to the meeting with his best friend that owed him $90,000, he stabbed him and chased him down and dragged him down a set of stairs, that is pre meditated murder in spite of the manslaughter conviction,

    stop parroting words like ‘rehabilitation’ as if it was a magic cure for all social ills, you can try and rehabilitate drug users and alcoholics, but a murderer is not suffering from a disability, they may be perfectly sane and rational people that chose to kill for whatever reason, they need punishment not rehabilitation.

    Comment by watchman | December 12, 2008 | Reply

  3. I could not agree more with watchman.
    Even if Ansari wlnt kill again he should get serious time not five years. The victim will never get a second chance and he was inocent so y should Ansari.
    Punishment should be tougher in this country to deter crime. Crime in Canada is on a rise probably because most criminals figure if they get caught there are no real serious consequences provided they act like there sorry.
    The public doesnt understand criminal justice haha? The justice system doesnt understand the publics concerns and views which it should be serving instead of the criminals.

    Comment by rehabilitate a killer haha | December 15, 2008 | Reply

  4. Sorry caseyleonardsmith, I just don’t agree. Cases like this undermine my faith in our justice system.

    1) Ansari took no responsibility for what he did – instead he claimed that he went into some delusional state. If he can’t explain how or why this happened, how can he or anyone argue that he won’t do it again?

    2) Strong sentences are a deterrant. If there’s a perception that you only serve a few years for killing, then more people may consider that as an option. A stiff 20 year sentence would better serve Canada.

    Comment by Bryce | December 17, 2008 | Reply

  5. More POSTS, caseyleonardsmith!

    Comment by nathanz | February 3, 2009 | Reply

  6. “Sasan Ansari may have gotten off a little light for what he has done,” you write. 5 years for stabbing someone 33 times, to death … you call that a LITTLE light?

    “He will have to live with the shame and grief of what he has done for the rest of his life,” you say. How can you possibly know how much shame and grief he will actually feel? The prisons, don’t forget, are full of innocent people. Never underestimate the power of the human mind to justify anything, no matter how heinous. Your theory assumes that everyone has a conscience that would cause them to suffer for their transgressions. The history of the human race proves otherwise. How guilty did the leading Nazis feel about the Holocaust? How tortured by guilt do you suppose O. J. Simpson has been since his brutal murders? And since, according to his own testimony, Ansari, in his supposed “dissociative” state, had no control over his own actions, how much shame can he be expected to feel?

    “Whenever a crime is committed, you write, there is damage to the victim, the criminal, and to society.” What’s the damage to a murderer — let’s call a spade a spade — like Ansari? The grief and shame he will supposedly live with for the rest of his life? That he won’t be able to become a lawyer? The ludicrously light prison sentence he will serve? You seem to be proposing that we should feel sorry for this brute, but I’ll save my sympathy for the victim and his family.

    I suppose that in your mind I am just another member of the barbaric public, “bent on a lust for vengeance.” Frankly, having read a number of reports in which the “experts” argue both for and against the deterrent effects of punishments that fit the crime, with no conclusive answer apparently in sight, I have decided that, deterrent or not, appropriate punishment is not a crime; it’s justice. Too bad that purpose of our so-called justice system is so often forgotten.

    Comment by Ron | March 1, 2009 | Reply

  7. Having to live the rest of your life knowing that you’ve taken someone’s life is a big punishment and for those who say it’s not a punishment then you have no soul. lets not forget how Ansari is a law student. a criminal could not possibly have the passion to study something that contradicts their personality and their existence and Ansari clearly has a passion for law. What happened is tragic and i feel terrible for the victims family but i strongly agree with caseyleonardsmith. not only will he have to live with the shame and grief of what he has done, but he will also have to live the rest of his life not doing what he loves.

    Comment by private | March 29, 2009 | Reply

    • “lets not forget how Ansari is a law student”… which is why he came up with the BS about the dissasociative state he supposedly went into, because he knew he’d get off light by using that in his defense. In my opinion, if someone goes out of thier mind and slaughters someone like that, they’re extremely dangerous, and should be dealt with accordingly. If he’s so mentally ill that he’d dissasociate from the murder, what makes you think he’ll truly feel remorse about it? I bet he can tune that out too.

      What about his brother, Soroush? Possible links to the UN gang? Sounds like a family of thugs. If it ever comes to a vote, I’m absolutely in favour of a death penalty. Scum like this would be first on my list, and if they’re having a hard time finding executioners out of you lot of bleeding hearts, I’d be glad to stab this trash 33 times in the name of justice.

      Comment by stevie | June 6, 2009 | Reply

  8. Well, care to defend your claims and refute a few of these assertions, caseyleonardsmith?

    Or are you just going to flee? Oh..2008

    You fled

    Comment by pussy | September 9, 2009 | Reply

  9. Can you imagine what it would be like to brutally stab someone 30 times. And then not remember it! What is that telling you about this guy? Obviously he has no conscience. Do you honestly think a guy with no conscience will be living a life of remorse?

    Think about your own rage. The is a limit. This guy has no limit. The court system is supposed to protect us from these people. Rehab??? hell we can’t even change our own little neurotic behaviours let alone try to cure a psychotic!

    The best we can do is to put these people away so they can’t harm someone else….because they will. It’s not about vengeance, it’s about trying to keep the rest of us safe.

    Criminal justice system …ha what a joke.

    Comment by george | March 29, 2010 | Reply

  10. Punishment isn’t the issue.

    there is no rehabilitation for Ansari. He grew up in a good family, rich, had a great education, etc. He chose to murder a friend over 90,000$ that he didn’t want to pay back.

    I don’t think it’s possible to be a worse human being, given the circumstances. There’s too many people in this world as it is. In a case like this, it should just be a quick lethal injection, and get rid of the offender so they never harm anyone again.

    Comment by Jim | May 19, 2010 | Reply

    • The evidence in the case, that was at least partially accepted by the jury, was that Ansari was in a dissociative state when he committed the crime and was not fully responsible for his actions. Whether or not you agree with those facts is a different issue from what was decided at trial. To execute someone for something that they have been found by a court of law to be actions they were not entirely responsible for does not make any sense.

      Please, rail against the ridiculous conclusion that was reached by the jury in this case, but the justice system has to apply punishment based on the crime that Ansari was actually convicted of.

      Comment by caseyleonardsmith | May 19, 2010 | Reply


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