The rural crime problem is expected to be up for discussion March 20-21 at the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties spring convention.
Lacombe County has put forward a resolution calling for strategies to prevent and combat rural crime and punish those convicted “in a manner that will maximize deterrence.”
The resolution further seeks to see sentencing reforms in the criminal justice system that will keep repeat offenders off the street for a longer time.
That is what a number of Alberta farmers and ranchers also suggest.
“Right in Fort Macleod we’ve got repeat offenders that are on bail for now on three different convictions and they haven’t even started the sentence on their first conviction,” said Conrad Van Hierden, a dairy farmer and president of the local crime watch group.
The background provided in the Lacombe County resolution notes the prevalence of rural crime and the inability of rural residents to defend themselves “without the risk of facing heavier penalties for protecting their home and families. Law-abiding residents have their hands tied,” the resolution says.
It notes a resurgence in rural crime watch organizations as residents seek solutions.
“These actions by citizens are not likely to have much of an effect unless the criminal justice system in Canada takes this problem seriously and deals with offenders in a much more serious and meaningful way,” the resolution says.
It further suggests that property owners should have the ability to protect their families, homes and assets “without the risk of receiving a prison sentence for assault while the criminal gets away with little or no punishment at all.”