A monster? Or a mistake?

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Added: Wed, 02/13/2019 - 11:13pm
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Allyson Beauregard
Rédacteur / Managing Editor

A couple months shy of the one year anniversary of the deadly Humboldt Broncos accident, the sentencing hearing of Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the driver of the semi-truck that collided with the bus, was headline news. He will be sentenced March 22 after pleading guilty to 29 dangerous driving offences.
The incident united the country in grief, as people from coast-to-coast left hockey sticks on their porches. It was named Canada’s News Story of the Year by the Canadian Press. No story in 2018 affected Canadians more.
Nearly 80 victim impact statements were read the week of January 28. Some expressed forgiveness, claiming Sindu's life shouldn't be ruined by his mistake, while others labelled him as a monster unworthy of forgiveness.
Sibdu said the accident was due to lack of experience: he was hired three weeks prior to the crash and had been driving alone for just a week. His attention was on the loose tarps covering his load when he missed the stop sign. Inexperience was evident in his logbook: in the two weeks prior to the accident, Sidhu had 70 regulation and inspection rule violations, i.e. incorrect recording, discrepancies, etc.
Clearly a revamp of the trucking industry (mandatory training, electronic logging) is
warranted, considering he was approved to drive solo.
“Everyone in this courtroom wants justice. The question is, what is the right sentence,” said Mark Brayford, Sidhu's lawyer. The prosecution suggested a ten year prison term and driving restriction while the defence requested more leniency. What type of justice is appropriate?
Retributive justice considers proportionate punishment an acceptable response to crime because the offender deserves it and it provides some sort of benefit (protection) and satisfaction to the victim(s) and society. Actions bear
consequences, but will stiff punishment actually serve anyone's interests in this case?
What does Sibdu deserve? It's evident he didn't set out to destroy lives that day. He took responsibility, plead guilty, spared families the trauma of a trial, and is genuinely remorseful – not a text-book criminal. Aren’t he and his
family victims too? Victims of an unintended tragedy many of us have called ‘close calls’.
Restorative and transformative justice address the harms caused by a crime by holding the offender responsible and imposing restitution. They provide victims, offenders, and the community an opportunity for healing, reparation and reintegration by identifying and addressing their needs. Both methods have proven to be effective (recidivism, perception of fairness, victim satisfaction, forgiveness, etc.).
Scott Thomas, father of Evan Thomas who perished in the crash, met privately with Sidhu after stating he would only be able to forgive him if it was requested in person. Although he wouldn't reveal specifics, Thomas said the meeting was definitely good and it ended with hugs. Forgiveness is often more healing and
liberating than knowing someone is imprisoned.
In this case, don't the victims and community need reparation rather than protection - the kind that can't be achieved simply by knowing someone is sitting behind bars?