Victims: The Orphans of Justice
Janet McCreadie is a Dunnville-based freelance editor and writer.
The consensus is that the Canadian criminal justice system stinks. It smells of a group of people intent on protecting the rights of the accused and ignoring the agony of victims’ families.
Author Jerry Amernic concisely details the anguish and frustration of Don Sullivan’s fight to change the criminal justice system. Victims are the families and close friends who live through the nightmares and share the opinion that there are serious wrongs in the system as it now stands. Victims: The Orphans of Justice could aptly be renamed “Victims: The Orphans of Violence that Should Never Have Happened.”
On Oct. 23, 1980, former police officer Don Sullivan’s daughter was raped and murdered in Ajax, Ontario. Sullivan believed it should never have happened. The crime was committed by a young man recently released on mandatory supervision. The story, though, is more than just Sullivan’s account. It goes on to tell of other people with the same experiences who got together to help each other in a group called, appropriately enough, Victims of Violence.
The story is down in black and white for readers to see and judge for themselves whether the Sullivans were fairly treated. It names names, points fingers, and lays the blame at the feet of three federal government bodies: the National Parole Board, the Correctional Services of Canada, and the Solicitor General. It is so detailed it sounds like a police account in a courtroom, giving evidence to convict a criminal. Sullivan gives evidence that the criminal justice system has some serious flaws that should be corrected.
Part of the book is devoted to the formation of Victims of Violence, the group Sullivan now heads full time. The story is larger than his own personal struggle with government. There are reasons — 3,000 strong reasons — as the membership continues to grow and people continue to write to Sullivan saying that they too were shunted off by system officials.
Victims: The Orphans of Justice is a very powerful, well-documented news story about the release of dangerous offenders and the crimes they commit when released, the frustrations of victims, and the government’s lack of concern.
The victims in the book are the forgotten people in the system. Victims is a strong reminder of all those who continue to hurt because they couldn’t get the simple answers they wanted from the system.