«Before allowing consecutive sentences, convicts of serious crimes had a small hope of asking for parole after 25 years and to be placed under the surveillance of the Parole Board of Canada for the rest of their days,» the parents wrote.
The parents of Alexandre Bissonnette, the man who killed six people by shooting them inside a Quebec City mosque, have criticized the sentence he received last week as being “very harsh.”
Bissonnette received an automatic life sentence when he pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder last year. On Friday, Quebec Superior Court Justice François Huot determined that Bissonnette will have to serve 40 years of that life sentence before he becomes eligible for full parole. The Crown had requested Bissonnette, who is now 29, serve 150 years before he is eligible for parole, which would have guaranteed Bissonnette would be dead before he could appear before the Parole Board of Canada.
In the letter, they note that Canada eliminated the death penalty as a sentence in 1976. In 2011, the Criminal Code was changed, allowing judges in Canada to sentence a person who kills more than one person to serve life sentences consecutively and extend a period of parole ineligibility well beyond the standard 25 years called for in the Criminal Code for a single first-degree murder conviction.
“Before allowing consecutive sentences, convicts of serious crimes had a small hope of asking for parole after 25 years and to be placed under the surveillance of the Parole Board of Canada for the rest of their days,” the parents wrote. “That glow of hope allowed them to hope to live and to rehabilitate themselves. The system worked because, according to statistics, Canada has an extremely low rate of reoffending.
“We regret to note that instead of adopting a more nuanced position, the Crown asked for the maximum, which totalled 150 years (of parole ineligibility).”
Bissonnette’s parents also noted that “physical and psychological intimidation” that their son experienced while at school “had a devastating effect on his personality.”