Alberta’s New Anti-Crime Initiative Sparks Controversy Amid System Overload Concerns


While Alberta’s justice minister, Edmonton’s mayor, and police chief lauded a new governmental initiative aimed at apprehending and imprisoning violent offenders with increased vigor, critics argue the strategy could undermine crucial systemic progress. The proposal encourages a stricter stance towards crime, leading to more arrests and subsequently more cases laden onto an already burdened justice system.

Mickey Amery, the provincial justice minister, underscored the growing feeling that the current system does not hold offenders adequately accountable. His plan suggests an intolerance for blatant criminality such as drug abuse in major city precincts, and refraining from releasing violent perpetrators out on bail pending trial.

Amery declared an imminent mobilization of volunteer Crown prosecutors ready to grapple with a potential surge in new arrests and related cases. Despite concerns raised over potential overload, Amery optimistically noted the current manageable level of Crown Prosecutor caseload. He asserted, “It’s lower than it’s been in years, and we’re certainly comfier so we can take on this additional responsibility.”

The plan is controversial, aimed at cracking down on crime, and simultaneously disposing of the prosecutorial ‘triage’ system, which has efficiently managed case flow by dismissing files with low conviction rates. This new initiative has been dubbed a ‘recipe for disaster’ by Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association vice-president Shawn King. He questions whether this will result in more cases being halted, or if it’s merely an enticing proposition meant to expedite the process, an unrealistic aim in his opinion.

Crown prosecutors too, echo this concern. Dallas Sopko, the president of the Alberta Crown Attorney’s Association, points out the already significant backlog of crucial cases present even with the current triage system, not to mention the influx of new cases this initiative could potentially bring.

Sopko alerted that approximately 800 serious and violent cases in Edmonton and Calgary have crossed the Jordan threshold, putting them at risk for a stay. Therefore, the successful implementation of the tough-on-crime initiative would necessitate far greater resources. He stated, “We’re going to need more resources to prosecute them, we’re going to need more courtrooms for those matters to be heard, more judges, more clerks, and more sheriffs.”

No additional funding was announced in conjunction with this initiative. However, the province’s Crown prosecution services affirmed that 50 new Crown prosecutor roles have been added since 2019, and that a province-wide pre-charge assessment continues to ensure only cases that meet acceptable standards will proceed.


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