If you’re a young offender who frequently thumbs his or her nose at court orders, the last place you wanted to be today was in front of Judge Ted Lismer in an effort to get out on bail for the weekend.
Without any speeches, remonstrations or soft-handed explanations, Lismer wasn’t giving any breaks today.
There were two cases that stood out.
Exhibit one: The Level-4 offender
At 17, he was once considered one of the city’s worst candidates for stealing cars, driving them dangerously and endangering the public.
Police the gang-involved youth consider him to be an extremely high-risk to reoffend.
But in recent months, he’s been making somewhat of a turnaround and attending mandatory daily meetings with a program meant to try and help these kids turn their lives around.
His lawyer says he’s suffered as a byproduct of Manitoba’s devolution policy regarding kids in care — apprehended by CFS at age three after his mother couldn’t cope with her substance-abuse issues — he was placed with his two brothers in a foster home after the trio ran away and were found by RCMP.
By age nine, CFS officials decided to break up the siblings in an effort to place him in a more “culturally sensitive” home (his words). Since then, he’s been “shuffled through CFS for the last number of years.”
(Aside: every kid in court today (a docket of 10 or so) was involved in the child-welfare system.)
From there, the wheels fell off the bus, and crime, gangs and a disrespect for authority set in.
He’s amassed 17 convictions for court-order breaches, 16 of them for breaching conditions of youth sentences.
The latest allegations involve even more. The facts are “technical” and virtually innocuous. He didn’t show up for a curfew, was given a break, was arrested again on a breach, took the conviction and soon breached curfew again, the Crown said.
Prosecutors said there was no reason to trust him if he was let go. Lismer agreed and dismissed him from the courtroom, saying he agreed completely.
Again, no hand-holding. “In total, he just has too many non-compliances,” Lismer said.
Exhibit two: “In need of protection”
She’s 16, a ward of CFS and goes missing at will, triggering a police search to find her. She’ll vanish for a few days and turn up at homeless shelters or missions before turning herself in to police. Where she goes, it’s hard to say.
The Crown says she’s “a high-risk victim at high risk of being exploited.”
She’s got a long record of meltdowns, which have lead to convictions for assaulting police officers and uttering threats. Those convictions have led to many, many breaches in less than four years.
Thirteen in all — five for breaking the terms of prior sentences. She’s facing more breach allegations now.
She’s also on charge for an incident at her group home where she threatened to stab the staff, set the place on fire and lock all the doors as she left them inside.
Why? She wanted some Kraft Dinner, the Crown said in opposing her bail plan.
Instead of bloodshed or arson, the girl took off and played cat and mouse with CFS staff and police for about two weeks before turning herself in.
“It was not a serious threat … there was no real confrontation,” her lawyer told Lismer.
“Her issues are largely social-welfare welfare issues,” he said.
She lashes out at people trying to help her, he added.
The plan for her bail was to have her go live in a locked facility where she wouldn’t be able to get out unless escorted by staff. She’d also have access to programming that would help her graduate from a help-program.
Lismer, again, wasn’t buying it.
“I remain unsatisfied,” he said, simply, and dismissed her from the court.