Canada’s highest court has ruled that even the most heinous criminals, including mass murderers and serial killers, can’t be locked away without a chance for parole because such prison sentences are “cruel” and unconstitutional.
“Such sentences are degrading in nature and thus incompatible with human dignity because they deny offenders any possibility of reintegration into society, which presupposes – definitively and irreversibly – that they lack the capacity to reform and re-enter society,” the Canadian Supreme Court said on Friday in a unanimous ruling.
The decision stemmed from an appeal by Alexandre Bissonnette, who was convicted of murdering six worshipers and seriously wounding five others at a Quebec City mosque in 2017. Bissonnette was originally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 40 years, but Friday’s ruling requires that he be made eligible for potential release in 25 years.
While acknowledging the “unspeakable horror” of the mosque attack and the “agonizing scars” that Bissonnette left on Canadian society, the high court said, “We cannot help but feel sympathy for the victims and their loved ones for their irreparable losses and their indescribable pain.” Chief Justice Richard Wagner insisted that the ruling doesn’t devalue the lives of crime victims.