Legal Aid Ontario lawyer and Society representative Bo Araif was recently profiled by Toronto Life as the publication looked at the impact of the growing backlog in Ontario courts. The recent merger of several Toronto courts has created chaos that is harming the rights of accused persons to timely access to bail courts. The Society has consistently opposed the courthouse merger and highlighted many issues that are already playing out as a result of it. Bail is a vital part of the justice system because it means that with the exception of rare and very serious circumstances only those who are convicted of a crime are subject to incarceration.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
Spending the night in jail when all you need is a consent release sounds awful. How else are the backlogs affecting your clients?
It’s important to remember that a lot of people going through the court system actually did nothing wrong. In that context, regardless of whether it was a consent release, we have to consider that these innocent people are spending long days in cold cells. If they’re taken to a jail overnight, they’re exposed to risks of violence and infection, particularly at places like the Toronto South Detention Centre, in Etobicoke, where you can be confined by yourself for more than 23 hours a day with no opportunities to shower or use a phone. People are losing their jobs because they’re forced to miss work. They have pets at home that aren’t being fed. In the past couple of weeks, one of my clients missed a chemotherapy session. I’ve seen multiple clients miss important surgeries. I can only imagine the stress they must feel.
Read the full Q&A with Bo Araif at: https://torontolife.com/city/legal-aid-lawyer-backlogs-and-burnout-at-toronto-regional-bail-centre