GOING TO JAIL: THE INCARCERATION EXPERIENCE
After being convicted and having a sentencing date set, I decided that I needed a lawyer to represent me at sentencing, and after consulting with a lawyer I had minor dealings with in the past I chose Deanne Gaffar. She was a woman which I and a couple of friends thought might be helpful; my thinking was infected with false concepts of correctness tactics. I certainly don’ t think this helped, and being a woman (but not a proverbial whore) she was probably less open to understanding or even listening to me. I met with her when I retained her and again minues before the sentencing hearing. Although we spoke on the phone a few times we had very little discussion of my sentencing. For example, she never explained the difference between provincial sentences, up to two years less a day, and federal sentences, two years or more. Federal institutions, I found out later are much to be preferred. Two inmates I talked to said that when I got a deuce less, my lawyer should have asked for an extra day so that be in a federal facility.
I did however meet two friends of hers from Switzerland whom she was showing around Vancouver and brought to the hearing. I felt my sentencing hearing was an inconvenience to her. From the beginning she saw her job as keeping me out of jail, which is of course the primary concern of most defendants. I told her near the beginning that I would prefer a short jail sentence in preference to as long period of probation. I had been through nine years of bail supervision and wanted to free of legal constraints so I could live where I wanted and associate with whomever I wanted. She said she would try for a conditional sentence, a bracelet and essentially house arrest with a few hours off to do my shopping and appointments. I gave her medical records and a statement from my clinic doctor outlining my condition. These proved useless. She spent a lot of money getting official transcripts of my preliminary hearing and trial but she never discussed my case in any depth and didn’ t bring up any of the points in the trial. She may have been more convinced of my guilt than Mr. Poll who was only doing his job aggressively.. I also said she should point out that the ‘offence’ occurred over twenty years ago and that I was over seventy years old which also suggested that I was unlikely to re-offend. However, she wouldn’ t ask for less than a two years conditional sentence, as she feared she wouldn’ t be taken seriously by the judge. She explained that she was very busy.
Things did not go well. Mr. Poll got what he asked for and my lawyer’s arguments were ineffectual. Deanne Gaffar put too much emphasis on a conditional sentence. She gave only perfunctory mention of points I had raised. It is true that since pressured by feminists, the statutes of limitations for sex offences was eliminated (before it was only murder that was exempt) elapsed time since the offense has no legal significance.
I had told her early on that I would prefer a short jail sentence rather than a long period of probation. I had no moral qualms about going to jail. So many of the heroes of my youth, good friends of mine and people I had great respect for such as Edward Brongersma had been to jail so I felt no shame in it. She and many others felt that my health problems would carry considerable weight in this respect. She had been claiming she was busy and it was only immediately before my sentencing hearing that she told me she was going to suggest a two years conditional plus three years probation. I think it was to counter the continuing danger argument. She was focusing on the prosecution’s arguments and not the facts of the case. I was quietly outraged; I emphatically told her: No probation.
Mr. Poll pointed to the vigour with which I defended myself and said there was no evidence that my medical problems were a problem for a jail sentence. Gaffar had obtained a letter from my clinic doctor, which summarized my condition. She did not enter it because for one, she told me, it erroneously said that I was formerly an intravenous drug user, but the letter also essentially confirmed Poll’s claim.
Two years jail would I believe leave me totally free in 16 months whereas Gaffar’s suggestion would have tied me down for 60 months, five years. I feel that if she had not pushed for a conditional sentence - two years, but suggested 6 months jail I might have ended up with one year and been free in 8 months. It was the denunciation factor that Poll stressed (and also deterrence) that seemed to impress Judge Edwards. Only jail denounces! One year jail sentence might have satisfied the blood lust.
I am not sure that even if Gaffar had studied more than the transcripts and had presented better arguments that Edwards would have given me a lesser sentence. I am thankful that I stopped her from mentioning probation or I might still be tied down to restrictions on where I can live and who I can associate with until 2009. I would likely have done just as well without Ms. Gaffar.
My sentencing was a triumphal occasion for the Righteous Right. Chuck Cadman, the cancer stricken independent M.P. was there with Mr. (the complainant) and Mrs. Layton North along with Noreen Waters and two of her cronies. Cadman had attended my trial on the days when Mr. North was testifying, presumably to give his support. The media and press were well represented. Two of my friends, a poet and an artist from Victoria whom I’ d known since she was a teenager attended. When I went out for lunch with them we were swarmed by reporters and TV cameramen. You may have seen it, I haven’ t. The Vancouver Sun reporter Ian Mulgrew had a write up on it which I was informed captured the spirit of the event.
Judge Robert Edwards sentenced me to two years less a day which meant that the sentence would be served in a provincial facility. The sheriffs immediately grabbed me and led me out and placed me in a holding cell. Later I was cuffed and shackled and transported to the North Fraser Remand Centre, known as Poco on the street, where I spent hours in a holding cell. I remember meeting this guy there with amazing tattoos who said he’ d previously completed 6 years in the pen and just wanted to be processed and admitted so he could watch TV. I was eventually placed in Alpha East, a PC unit and assigned a room. The next morning I was greeted by a young friend I knew from the East End and we had breakfast together.Jail Journal menu
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