Opinion

OUR VIEW: Second chance society

A recent court judgment against the confessed thief of more than $40,000 from a Central Saanich school’s parents’ group, has been getting some strong reactions.

This week, Tanya Larayne Adam was given three years’ probation. And some might argue that her sentence was not harsh enough, nor a deterrent against anyone else trying the same thing.

Yet, consider the argument that her punishment is sufficient — based on some of the facts of the case.

Adam, according to police, gave a confession when faced with evidence of the crime. And according to her lawyer, she has paid all of the money back, and did so before her sentence was handed down.

She will also — if those she has hurt agree to it — participate in a restorative justice program. That would involve all parties sitting down, talking about how the crime affected them and then reaching an agreement on how to co-exist.

And it’s that co-existing part that could continue to haunt Adam, long after her probation period, long after any restorative justice session.

Canada’s justice system has a kind of “second chance” element built into it.

Yes, people commit crimes and make mistakes. Under certain conditions, we as a society will offer them a second chance. In this case, the system is taking that chance on Adam.

Whether the rest of the community does, is another matter entirely.

The case garnered enough attention to possibly affect Adam’s future employment opportunities and her ability to have that second chance.

What she did has hurt the community’s trust in her and it will take time and a lot of work to mend that wound.

And such is the case for anybody who commits a crime and tries to re-integrate into the community.

In some respects, that’s an altogether different — but still confining — jail sentence. And one when you stand back and really consider it, that will continue to punish the perpetrator for years to come.

The result of this case is not another person locked away in a jail cell, but locked into a community that has high expectations for a re-integration into that society.

Living up to those expectations can be a challenge at the best of times.

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