Accountability lacking in Jerry Ell sentence


Nunavut has the highest rate per capita of violent crime? Nunavut has the highest rate per capita of suicide?

There are individual stories of violence; a woman is killed by her spouse after he has been brought before the courts for spousal assault several times and then released back to the residence?

There is a nine-hour stand off with an armed man in Iqaluit, he is accused of sexually assaulting at least one person and disarming a police officer and then the courts give him back his access to firearms and a short period of probation?

Nunavut is coming together. Youth are talking to youth about suicide, women’s groups are holding workshops on violence, government is funding and facilitating meetings, police are engaged with the community.

But where is the judicial system? What is the role of the courts in addressing the social challenges in Nunavut? The jails we have are full, so do we need more jails? Are the people in jail getting the help they need while in custody or after they return home? Is there a deterrent or punishment or accountability for crimes?

There certainly was not for Mr. Jerry Ell’s violent and dangerous behavior. The judicial system is expected to protect the victims, and the community. What has the judicial system done for the victims of violence? What has the judicial system done to support the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our community? What has the judicial system done to ensure Mr. Ell will not act in a violent manner towards others again? What message has this decision sent to all the victims of violence?

At the very least I would have expected that Mr. Ell would have been given a lengthy period of time to do community service work, where he would be required to help the people who he has intimidated and show his remorse and reconciliation with the community. Or was he given special consideration?

I just can’t believe that a person could be accused of this number of violent crimes, involving firearms, sexual assaults, and assaults to police officers and then not be held accountable. What is the judicial system saying to people who commit acts of violence?

As an elected representative in my community I am shocked and appalled at the outcome of a number of very serious violent situations that have occurred in Iqaluit. There are so many dedicated people in this community who work with victims of crime and abuse, who have been let down by the judicial system.

More importantly there are many victims in our communities who have been hurt again, this time by the ones who are expected to defend them. Why?

Glenn Williams
Deputy Mayor
City of Iqaluit

Editor’s note: In the incident that Mr. Williams refers to in his letter, which occurred Oct. 19, 2004, a large section of Iqaluit’s white row housing area was evacuated for about six hours during an armed standoff between police and an Iqaluit man barricaded inside a house. Jerry Ell was arrested after a brief struggle, then charged with six criminal offences. After a plea bargain earlier this month, he pleaded guilty to three offences and received a suspended sentence and one year of probation. He is prohibited from storing his firearms at home, but he may store them somewhere else for hunting purposes.

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