Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Send teen girl to school for criminals?

Rightwing solution to youth crime?

Image Source: Megamind Wiki
This morning I bought some plain green tea from a Robin's Donuts. In addition to allowing me some time to reflect on where this places me in the ever so pressing Starbucks cultural elite vs middle-middle class Tim Hortons divide, it also gave me the opportunity to pickup a complimentary copy of today's Winnipeg Sun. It's feature story is about the allegedly nonsensical, weak punishment of a girl ... who assaulted a cop!!!! It's also a case study in non-libellous yet grossly misleading headlines.

The headline goes thusly

Instead of jail time, teen who assaulted cop receives $1 fine after ignoring court order eight separate times >> PAGE 3
Given the excessive editorializing one would think that this story would be in the comment section. It's not as that section's saturated with national pundits. So this story is apparently "news" according to the Sun. And what does this "news" story on page 3 actually say?

Prosecutors were seeking a 30-day jail sentence for the 16-year-old girl, who pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching a court ordered curfew. Instead, Judge Judith Elliot fined the girl $1 and ordered her to be released from custody.  
The girl's record includes October 2011 convictions for assaulting a police officer and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, for which she was sentenced to one day in custody and 18 months supervised probation.  
("Sparred jail for a loonie: Judge gives teen who assaulted cop and defied court orders 30 days to pay one-dollar fine". Dean Pritchard. Winnipeg Sun (July 31, 2012)) 
The article details how she was jailed six times - with the longest dentition being nine days -  for breaching curfew at a troubled youth treatment facility - the Knowles Centre. The article goes on to discuss how, before trying to run away from the treatment centre, she was allowed to "visit her birth mother". Given that phrasing something tells me she comes from a  troubled home.

Now, none of the Sun headlines actually say that her sentence for assaulting the cop is a mere $1 fine. But the headline uses the two facts in the same sentence, sorta like how former US President George W. Bush liked to drop "Saddam Hussein" and "9/11" in the same sentences time and time again. This paints a very misleading picture without actually lying. Many people don't carefully read Sun articles, after all.

Aside from repeating the prosecution's claim that the girl didn't learn her lesson and thus needed harsher sentences to do so, there's no argument as to why the ruling makes "no sense". Should what - in all likelihood - is a near penniless girl be forced to pay a $600 fine? And how the hell will that teach her not to break treatment centre curfews or dissuade her from running away again? She likely lacks the money so has little to lose. Does the Winnipeg Sun think she should be put in jail - in a place that hardens young offenders and teaches them the tools of the trade - for longer? If so, how long?

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  1. It's common knowledge that The Sun writers are instigators.

    1. Sometimes obvious facts have to be repeated to fully sink into the public's mind.