The Toronto Bail Program (TBP) has recently announced that, effective Mar. 29, they will be discontinuing serving the weekend bail court on Sundays and statutory holidays.
For those unfamiliar with the important work done by the TBP on behalf of persons who are unable to present friends, family members or co-workers as prospective sureties in bail court, see my blog post on this disturbing development for more detail.
This is yet another head-scratching decision that undermines the success of our increasingly strained criminal justice system. While millions of additional Federal dollars will have to be poured into policing, courts and incarceration to deal with the rapidly growing sentences meted out by mandatory-minimum jail legislation, our Provinces can’t even provide a token increase in the funding to a vital resource that assists the most disenfranchised persons coming into our courts. The TPB’s funding has remained static since 2006 in the face of annual increases in its operating costs. The end result? Persons who are presumed innocent will be spending additional days in jail churning through our clogged bail system at a cost that is certain to exceed any of the budget savings gained by shutting the program down on Sundays. The damage to Ontario’s vaunted Justice on Target initiative will also be significant.
Isn’t it about time we traded base-serving platitudes like ‘getting tough on crime’ with genuinely getting smart on crime?
I’m happy to report that only a day after this blog post, the good folks at the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General in conjunction with the Toronto Bail Program were able to find the funds necessary to keep the bail program running 7 days a week, 365 days per year.
A small victory but one that we should be very grateful for on behalf of the many clients helped by the TBP each and every week.