The Court says “No” to retroactive punishment

Today, in the case of Canada (Attorney General) v. Whaling, 2014 SCC 20, the Supreme Court of Canada pushed back against one small element of the government’s “tough on crime” agenda, namely, the retroactive abolition of early parole for offenders already serving their sentences. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the Charter‘s prohibition against double punishment (s. 11(h)) presented an insurmountable obstacle to the government’s attempt to get tough, not only on offenders who were to be convicted and sentenced in the future, but on offenders who had already previously been convicted and sentenced before the amending legislation, Abolition of Early Parole Act, took effect.

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