Editorial: Re-thinking victim surcharge

The victim surcharge concept, where perpetrators of crimes are required to pay into funds supporting victims, is a good one, but it has some obvious problems.

Related: Confusion surrounds controversial victim surcharge fees

One is, where is a convict going to come up with the money when the bill comes due on the day of his release? With few immediate prospects for jobs, some will do their best to avoid paying while others may return to tried and true ways to raise money: a thief will look for someplace to rob, a drug trafficker will look to make some deals.

If it encourages a return to crime, the victim surcharge is kind of self-defeating.

That the victim surcharges are an additional punishment for criminals, over and above their jail time, is as obvious as the need for victim support services. But the question that needs to be asked if the fines are being imposed just to funnel money into programs the provincial government doesn’t want to fund? Or, is the greater intention to remind perpetrators there is a human cost to their crimes?

If it is the former, that the government is determined to raise money this way, then there is little to be done to break the cycle. But if the intention is an object lesson in the human cost of crime, then perhaps there are ways to make it more effective.

It might start with allowing convicts to reduce the amount they are expected to pay through exemplary behaviour and investment in their own rehabilitation while incarcerated. Perhaps after release, payment of the victim surcharge should be series of monthly payments — not a lump sum — both so it would not pose a dangerous financial cost, but also serve as an ongoing reminder.

Work needs to be done on the victim surcharge, not to make life easier for perpetrators of crime, but to make the program as effective as possible.

Just Posted

Community lends a hand after fire

Fundraiser to aid fire victim’s widow

Penticton bookkeeper nets 90 days for $60k embezzlement

Judith Kendrick pleaded guilty to fraud late last year, and was up for sentencing Tuesday morning

Video: Physicians salute Penticton philanthropist

Physicians say philanthropist, David Kampe, “single-handedly” changed patient care quality

Dine Around Thompson Okanagan set to kick off

Popular event kicks off in Kelowna with a sold out launch party

Freezing rain warning in effect for B.C. Southern Interior

Environment Canada issued the freezing rain warning for most of the Southern Interior Tuesday morning

Penticton youth centre finally gets home, sweet home

Youth centre organizers can start renovating 501 Main Street after getting the keys to the building

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

Letter: Amazed by Okanagan Falls volunteer first responders

We would like to publicly thank these brave men and women who give so selflessly of their time

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

VIDEO: Explorers uncover Canada’s deepest cave in Fernie

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, was confirmed to have broken the record on New Year’s Day

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Most Read