Court declines to set out sentencing framework for mitigation of anti-Black racism

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TORONTO — Ontario’s top court says anti-Black racism must be confronted, mitigated and erased, but it has declined to set out a framework for taking it into account in sentencing.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario was asked to contemplate the issue in the appeal over the sentence for a 26-year-old man for carrying a loaded firearm.

Kevin Morris was sentenced to 15 months, but the Crown appealed, saying it was “manifestly unfit.”

The sentencing judge had taken into account the disadvantages and systemic anti-Black racism Morris had faced growing up in Toronto.

Some intervenors in the appeal, including the Black Legal Action Centre, called for a standardized framework for sentencing Black people.

The Appeal Court says in its decision today that courts should give a “generous gateway” for admitting evidence about the effect of anti-Black racism on an offender, but the specific sentencing framework for Indigenous offenders does not apply to Black offenders.

The court increased Morris’ sentence to two years less a day, but stayed the sentence, meaning he won’t have to serve more time in jail.