The lawyer for a drunk driver who killed a family of four in Saskatoon last year has defended alternative justice measures after the bereaved family expressed outrage that the driver was no longer in a penitentiary.
In January, Catherine McKay received a sentence of 10 years for killing Chanda and Jordan Van de Vorst and their children, Kamryn and Miguire, while she was driving impaired.
McKay, 49, pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death in June 2016.
In January 2016, she failed to halt at a stop sign and collided with another car carrying the Van de Vorst family. She had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit.
Jordan’s father, Lou Van de Vorst, expressed outrage this week after McKay was transferred to a healing lodge for Indigenous women one month after she received her sentence.
“We’re hurt. We’re angry. We’re upset,” said Van de Vorst. “To me the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Something’s not right there.”
Rehabilitation the goal
McKay’s lawyer, Leslie Sullivan, said the sentence was the most severe in Saskatchewan history and one of the most severe in Canada.
She said healing lodges and other alternative justice measures make society safer.
“Inmates eventually are released back into the community. Therefore, one of the goals is they be rehabilitated,” Sullivan said.
“Any form of healing, rehabilitation process, restorative justice process that assists in that goal is a good thing.”
Programs still a prison, says lawyer
Sullivan said victims’ families might feel differently if they knew exactly what healing lodges and other facilities are like.
She said they’re still prisons, and some say the intensive programs and therapy can be more daunting than serving time in a penitentiary.
Sullivan, who is an advocate for zero tolerance of…