It’s always sad — and immediately curious — when you see a pregnant woman in the prisoner’s dock in court decked out in the dull grey uniform of Remand Centre inmates. ***(see note at bottom)

Such was the case today with Laura Lee Monias, 34.

Monias, a mother of an 18-month-old and just a few weeks shy of having her second child, appeared today to deal with several charges, many of them for failing to appear in court.

She was picked up recently after months on the lam from a bail plan that sent her to live at an unlocked treatment centre, something often reserved as a last-ditch plan for people with serious issues.

She walked away from it after a week or two. She says she simply got another bed at a different facility. Who knows.

She also pleaded guilty today to her fourth impaired-driving related conviction since 1998.

Monias is at the point where mandatory minimums apply due to her record of getting behind the wheel while drunk.

I was conflicted. I felt sorrow for her and her predicament, but at the same time glad that she faced a guaranteed period of jail time given the risk to the public she posed.

After her recent arrest she was bail denied, likely prompting her desire to plead guilty and get the punishment over with.

On Jan. 29, 2009, Monias crashed on the Trans-Canada highway (it was minor, no injuries) while speeding, according to witnesses. Another car also wound up in the snowy roadside ditch.

Police who rushed to the scene suspected she was drunk after she admitted to  drinking at a cousin’s home in Winnipeg a few hours earlier.

In the car she was driving — she somehow had a learner’s permit despite three prior drive over .08s — was a beer cap and some open liquor.

She was also with her so-called driving supervisor who was also suspected to be drunk. Charges were dropped against him last year.

Her efforts to blow a sample in an ASD for the cops failed miserably — she alleged the act of providing a breath sample reminded her of being abused as a child in some way. I won’t get into it.

By my math, she was a few months pregnant at the time with her first-born.

What followed was a series of catch and release arrests as she repeatedly failed to deal with the charge, leading to her most recent detention and guilty plea.

Judge Careena Roller called her behaviour “selfish and dangerous.” The judge spoke of the lost trust between Monias and society because of her scofflaw attitude.

“That behaviour gets jail sentences. It’s just that simple,” Roller said.

But the judge, likely feeling conflicted as well, offered Monias a big break by sentencing her to the mandatory minimum of 120 days in jail (23 left to serve after credit for dead time is factored in).

But she also offered the soft-spoken mom concurrent time on three fail to attend courts and a bail breach from the absconding from the treatment centre — something she said she doesn’t normally do, and isn’t required to by law.

She’ll likely be out in time to celebrate the birth of her newborn in the absence of correctional officers. I’m glad for that. Mostly for the baby.

It’s just my opinion, I know, but while sitting and listening to her case, my mind drifted to what kind of life her kids would have if she doesn’t get it together, and  quick.

Monias’ isn’t some big story, certainly not one I’d expect to see written up in the newspaper.

But my reading of the public’s interest prevents me from simply disregarding her case — another that references a major problem society has, but not major enough to warrant real ink.

Regardless of what I may feel about it.

Booze rears its head once again.

Just pointing it out.

-30-

***

Hers was yet another case I’ve come across recently where it didn’t appear on the official docket the media gets every day. Showing up at these hearings draws stares from the lawyers.

6 thoughts on “‘In Camera’

  1. I wonder what the numbers from the Law Courts would look like if we took the following factors into consideration:

    – Percentage of total defendants whom are aboriginal;
    – Percentage of total aboriginal defendants where the circumstance(s) surrounding their charge(s) involves substance abuse in one way or another.

    I already know what those numbers look like. Just curious why the morons who run our justice system (and the Crowns) haven’t done something it. It’s not poverty.

    Same old. Same old.

    Thanks for post, James. I always enjoy reading your work.

    1. Well, obviously, SM, they’d be high, but maybe not as high as you might suspect.

      There’s a number of people of all ethnicities who come before the courts. Stand outside or pop into courtroom 302 on MTW afternoons and you’d see that’s the case.

      As of today, the purchase and consumption of liquor is legal. Not much the system can do about that.

      I also wouldn’t unilaterally describe them as ‘morons.’ As we all do, we work within the systems we’ve got.

      It’s a lack of respect for and fear of authority and the law that I keep coming back to in my mind.

      We all gotta live here and try and get along. That’s ultimately what informs the law but is a foreign concept to many who come into the system, I fear.

  2. The current “justice system” doesn’t offer much in the sense of perceived justice.

    Often, the victims are re-victimized by means of not getting resolution.

    Violent/repeat offenders who should be incarcerated are set free on technicalities.

    Common variables such as the high-percentage of aboriginal defendants, substance abuse (motivated) and alcohol-fueled domestic violence cases seem to be ignored.

    When an engineer is trying to make something better, they look at common failures and weaknesses. They try to improve functionality and reduce failures by making changes to weak and dysfunctional variables.

    So after decades of a failed and overwhelmed “justice system”, why is it we consistently see the same failures and flaws?

    For starters, we need to eliminate the government drug dealers (the MLCC). Once this occurs, alcohol-fueled/related crimes will drop significantly. Of course alcohol will not be eliminated — but the volume of distribution will be greatly reduced. Less alcohol means less crime. That’s a fact.

    Second, we need to keep violent and repeat criminals out of society. That means incarcerating them for much longer periods. If more jails need to be built, than so be it. That’s where these people belong and I’m happy to fork over my tax money to keep human-excrement out of society. Don’t like jail? Don’t commit crime. And DON’T use “poverty” as an excuse to victimize your neighbour.

    While these people are locked-away for extended periods, we can give them the option of becoming proficient at something productive (a trade or other field-of-study). They can pay for their own educations through working at a reduced salary for the first year or two of their future gainful employment. This way they don’t go spending the money they owe the taxpayers on drugs or other wasteful products. If they choose not to do something productive while incarcerated, keep them locked-up.

    Third, we need to start holding judges accountable. This means they get elected by the people. The same applies to police chiefs. If they aren’t satisfying the people they serve and protect, then they shall not be entitled to serve the people any longer.

    Canada has become far too liberal and neutral on a number of important issues which affect the wellness of society. And by saying this, I do not mean to imply we need religion to be involved in the political realm. I may be right-of-centre, but I’m not a nutty Republican.

    What’s currently in place does not work.

  3. Mcleod, every post you make stinks of white privilege. You’re so far right, the Cons seem liberal. Your brand of take no prisoners justice, which with the omnibus crime bill see to be the path Harpers Gov’t is taking, is ironically going to create the imaginary crime situation you seem to think is happening. It’s so sad that we are going to spend millions of dollars re-actively locking up criminals, rather than spending it proactively on youth programs, education, etc to prevent kids from growing up as criminals.

  4. Hey McLeod, that’s just down right rude. While I respect your right to disagree, how is this reasonable discourse.
    Dave what does McLeod’s opinion have to do with white anything? I think that until the aboriginal leadership and community at large makes these problems a priority, the “white/immigrant/aboriginal/working in society group” will continue to see them as separate from the stereotypical drunken/sniffing Indian in downtown Winnipeg.
    This woman obviously has an alcohol problem, and has very little motivation to change.Too bad for her kids. Or too bad for her, as she may have been socialized into a life of being impaired by drugs and alcohol, unprotected by society from her birthright of a miserable life.
    I think that it has to come to the point where we should all go to a paradise like Pukatawagan, or Sagkeen (I have) and look at the future of Winnipeg, if nothing changes. Then we need to either deal with the problems (alcohol, child abuse, lack of education, and a system where the chiefs treat the people like serfs, handing out trinkets from a feudal Lord, without any accountability to the people.
    Then these same people look to escape to the city with no skills or source of income except welfare, prostitution, welfare babies, and other petty crime. The reserves buy houses and unload troublemakers to the city, where they ply the terrible scourge of the abo gangsters. They’re the ones that think that a home hasn’t been accessorized until it’s been spray painted, and all the windows have been smashed and replaced with chipboard(plywood is high end).
    Most of us are terrified of having one of these “losers” show up on our street. BTW, they’ve destroyed, housing stock for years in the core, it just scares the crap out of us working(white/aboriginal/black/yellow,etc.) folks, since they are popping up all over the city with their new plan that this will improve their lot by making ours part of the Rez culture. No Thanks.
    Great job James

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