A Mohawk man has been designated a dangerous offender and sentenced to a period of imprisonment of 8 years in addition to the 769 days he has served since his arrest, followed by a Long-Term Supervision Order for 8 years. The protection of the public was paramount but it is not required that the offender should be subject to external controls for the rest of his life, as would be the case with an indeterminate sentence.
Edward Hall, a Mohawk man, has entered guilty pleas to the offences of aggravated assault, break and enter, choking, and failing to comply with probation. Mr. Hall is 51-year-old years old. At the time he committed the offences, he was bound by two probation orders relating to two convictions for aggravated assault.
Mr. Hall has a criminal record in both Canada and the United States. Between the two countries, he has been convicted of approximately 60 offences. His Gladue report provided a detailed history of Mr. Hall’s childhood. His mother was a registered Mohawk of Akwesasne band member and former resident. His father was half-Mohawk. Both died in 2019 while Mr. Hall was in custody. Akwesasne is a nation of Mohawk people situated along the banks of the St. Lawrence River. It straddles the border between the United States and Canada, and includes territory within the jurisdictions of New York State, Ontario, and Quebec. The Mohawks of Akwesasne have been severely impacted by policies of assimilation aimed at eradicating Indigenous cultures. The intense suffering these policies have caused have had intergenerational impacts that continue to be felt today.
The impacts of this intergenerational trauma are evident in Mr. Hall’s history, including the physical and emotional abuse he suffered as a child; his early addictions to alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine; his loss of his connection to his community; the lack of employment skills, education, and functionality; and the racism he has faced in various communities and institutions. Mr. Hall states that the trauma that he experienced as a child has stayed with him, where he has nightmares and flashbacks of abuse.
The Waseskun Healing Center [“Waseskun”] is recommended as an option for residential treatment that has a culturally focused approach. However, Mr. Hall’s prior history of community supervision is noted to have been poor in almost every instance. In addition, he breached the last probation order imposed upon him, both by committing the index offence and by engaging in smuggling to support himself.
Public protection is the general purpose of the dangerous offender provisions. The protection of the public is an enhanced sentencing objective for individuals who have been designated dangerous, even while sentencing judges retain the discretion to “look at the whole picture”. The sentencing judge must impose the least intrusive sentence required to achieve the primary purpose of the legislation (R v Boutilier, 2017 SCC 64; R v Spilman, 2018 ONCA 551). Mr. Hall’s most serious offences have occurred while he was in his 40s. This pattern, however, does not place him outside the statistical pattern in the literature that sees persons who share his characteristics significantly diminishing at least the frequency of their offending in their 50s and 60s.
Mr. Hall committed a vicious assault in the context of a planned home invasion offence while he was on two probation orders relating to two recent convictions for aggravated assault. He used a weapon and choked his victim to the point of unconsciousness. The public must be protected from conduct like this by Mr. Hall in the future. On the mitigating side, the Court considered Mr. Hall’s diminished moral blameworthiness for the offences given the impact of Gladue factors, and that he pleaded guilty to the predicate offences.
Mr. Hall is designated a dangerous offender. The custodial sentence of 8 additional years will bring Mr. Hall to the age of roughly 59.5 years. The Long-Term Supervision Order [“LTSO”] will continue until Mr. Hall is 67. The custodial portion of the sentence will provide Mr. Hall with time to take the treatment offered to him and demonstrate that he can apply any lessons he has learned to reduce his risk. Parole will be available to him if he makes sufficient progress. A lesser sentence will not adequately protect the public. The need to protect the public militates against awarding enhanced credit to Mr. Hall for his presentence custody of 769 days. Awarding enhanced credit would reduce the period of time for which Mr. Hall will be subject to outside controls. On the totality of the evidence, this is the least intrusive of the options to adequately protect the public against Mr. Hall’s future commission of murder or a serious personal injury offence.
As for the importance of treatment with a cultural component such as that offered at Waseskun, if Mr. Hall has access to treatment that incorporates Indigenous culture and values, this is for the good insofar as it may assist him with certain personal issues and in reintegrating into the community. In the event Mr. Hall makes sufficient progress with his skills-based treatment for anger management and substance abuse and reduces his risk of reoffending, he may apply to and be accepted at Waseskun. If Mr. Hall does not make progress during the custodial part of his sentence, he can expect that this opportunity will not be available to him, even while serving the LTSO, because he will be ordered to reside at a community correctional centre.