Mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes

In 2013, Pivot released Throwing Away the Keys, a comprehensive report looking at the harms and social costs of mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes. Since then, Pivot has intervened in several successful challenges to specific mandatory minimum sentencing provisions. Our goal in those interventions was to ensure that the perspectives and experiences of people who come before of the courts as a result of their addiction, Indigenous people, and vulnerable women were considered when assessing the constitutionality of specific sentencing provisions. In April 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada and the BC Court of Appeal delivered decisions in two of those cases, overturning specific minimum sentencing provisions for certain drug offences. Later that year, Canada’s federal Justice Minister announced that her government intends to cut widespread use of mandatory minimum sentences and give judges back their discretion.