Cultural assessment report considered in sentencing
Published: June 26, 2019
In December 2014, police were investigating a home invasion when they approached Kevin Morris and three other black men in a parking lot. (It was later determined that none of the men had been involved in the home invasion).
Mr. Morris ran from police, discarding his jacket, which had a loaded gun in the pocket. During the chase, Mr. Morris was struck and injured by a police vehicle. Mr. Morris was arrested, charged and convicted of firearm related charges, including possession of an unauthorized firearm. Mr. Morris had no criminal record prior to this conviction.
Superior Court Justice Shaun Nakatsuru considered a cultural assessment report prior to sentencing. A cultural assessment report describes an offender’s background and personal history, including their experiences of anti‑Black racism in education, social services and the legal system. A report factors in how systemic discrimination has impacted the offender.
The Crown was seeking a minimum sentence of four years in jail. After taking the cultural assessment report into consideration, Justice Nakatsuru sentenced Mr. Morris to 15 months in jail, reduced to one year in consideration of breaches of Mr. Morris’ Charter rights.
Funding for this cultural assessment report was provided through LAO’s test case program.
- Vice News: Ontario judge cites systemic racism in more lenient sentence for young black man
- The Toronto Star: Crown calls one-year jail sentence ‘unfit’ after judge takes anti-Black racism into account
- National Post: Judge champions ‘lenient’ sentence for young black man in gun crime because of systemic racism and poverty