For the second time in less than a week, an accused drug dealer walked away from a Victoria courthouse a free man.
The alleged heroin dealer smiled when he was let out free due to a lack of sheriffs.
Last Friday, an accused cocaine dealer was released from the same courthouse, because there was no sheriff to escort him from his cell.
This week, the liberals announced they were extending funding for the Legal Service Society’s Justice Transformation Initiatives pilot projects. But New Democratic Leader spokesperson Mike Farnworth says there is more that needs to be done.
“Christy Clark was warned for years that her cuts to courtrooms would lead to drug dealers and other criminals walking free. But she chose to give a billion dollars in tax breaks to millionaires instead of hiring sheriffs to keep our courtrooms safe and ensure justice is done,” said Farnworth.
Dean Purdy, chair of the corrections and sheriff services component with B.C. Government and Employees’ Union (BCGEU), says there was about 500 sheriffs in B.C. five years ago. That number has now dropped to 400.
“Police, SkyTrain police, border patrol, they make a lot more money than sheriffs,” Purdy said. “Sheriffs top out at between $50,000 and $60,000 a year, but you can go over to the transit police and make $90,000.”
B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said Thursday morning there is a budget increase of $2.67 million going towards two classes of sheriffs graduating this year.
She added there will be a class of 24 new sheriffs coming into courtrooms in May, and another 24 in October.