The family of Lynn Kalmring, the Penticton woman shot and killed this summer, are calling for change to Canadian law.
“It’s not just about our story, this is about having a voice and making a change for the people that are unfortunate enough to follow and be victims of violent crimes after us,” said Kalmring’s niece Dawn Jenkins. “When I watch the news and read the paper with similar stories my heart breaks for them and I feel like I have to do something. I can’t just sit and watch anymore, I need to do something more, and my family all feel that way.”
It is the reason they have started a campaign they call Lynn’s Law. The family is circulating two petitions with a goal to reach 100,000 signatures and have them read in the House of Commons. They are calling for changes to the bail proceeding system and the victims’ bill or rights.
On Aug. 16 Keith Wiens, a retired RCMP officer, was arrested and charged with the second-degree murder of his common-law partner, Kalmring, in their South Main Street home. He has since pled not guilty.
The family’s frustration with the judicial system came to a boiling point in August when Wiens was set free on bail conditions which included handing over his passport, living under the supervision of his brother, not to possess or consume drugs or alcohol, turning over his firearms and a deposit of $50,000.
“I live just outside of Edmonton and there was a young guy out with a trench coat exposing his privates, well he didn’t get out on bail. It makes no sense to me how these decisions are made. There seems to be no rhyme or reason,” said Jenkins.
Kalmring’s family has set up the website www.justiceforlynn.webs.com and are asking people to sign the petition to help bring it to the House of Commons. The website also goes into detail over what the family would like to see changed in Canadian law.
One of the changes they are asking for is stricter bail requirements for violent crimes. The Canadian Criminal Code determines if bail is to be granted by evaluating protection of the public, victim and witnesses, the risk the accused will commit a criminal offence if released, the likelihood the accused will appear in court as scheduled, and requirements to maintain confidence in the administration of justice. The family is calling for those accused of violent offences to undergo stringent psychological testing prior to the bail hearing.
They would like to see that in the event of a violent crime that results in the death of the victim, the offender should not be eligible for bail until the conclusion of a preliminary hearing.
“Following other stories in the news and speaking with the public, everyone feels the same way, that violent offenders are repeatedly being provided these types of chances by being released into the community and we are repeatedly being victimized,” said Jenkins.
In all cases of murder charges, the family contends that curfew or house arrest and tracking technology to ensure compliance to bail conditions should be mandatory.
The family would also like to see changes to the national victims bill of rights.
They want clear roles and responsibilities for the Crown, police and service workers in regards to informing victims and families of their rights. They want it to be mandatory that the Crown should consult with victims and families about court dates, plea bargains, compensation programs and victim services in all provinces.
During bail hearings the family also would like to see changes that allow victims and families to have the ability to inform the court of concerns about their safety, specifically for violent offences.
Jenkins said they have enlisted the assistance of Okanagan Coquihalla MP Dan Albas, who told the family he would be honoured to present the petition in the House of Commons.