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Early in his career, Judge John Reilly did everything by the book. His jurisdiction included a First Nations community plagued by suicide, addiction, poverty, violence and corruption. He steadily handed out prison sentences with little regard for long-term consequences and even less knowledge as to why crime was so rampant on the reserve in the first place.
In an unprecedented move that pitted him against his superiors, the legal system he was part of, and one of Canadas best-known Indian chiefs, the Reverend Dr. Chief John Snow, Judge Reilly ordered an investigation into the tragic and corrupt conditions on the reserve. A flurry of media attention ensued. Some labelled him a racist; others thought he should be removed from his post, claiming he had lost his objectivity. But many on the Stoney Reserve hailed him a hero as he attempted to uncover the dark challenges and difficult history many First Nations communities face.
At a time when government is proposing new tough on crime legislation, Judge Reilly provides an enlightening and timely perspective. He shows us why harsher punishments for offenders dont necessarily make our societies safer, why the white justice system is failing First Nations communities, why jail time is not the cure-all answer some think it to be, and how corruption continues to plague tribal leadership.
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John Reilly was appointed to the bench at age 30 and had the distinction of having been the youngest Provincial Court Judge in Alberta history. At age 50 he made a promise to himself that he was going to improve the delivery of justice to the Stoney Nakoda First Nations at Morley, Alberta. After 35 years in public service, Reilly retired in 2012. He lives in Canmore, Alberta.Review:
Bad Medicine is an insider s look at the failure of the justice system in its dealings with Aboriginal law-breakers. Alberta Provincial Court Judge John Reilly spares no one, including himself, in his belief that a different and non-racist approach would serve First Nations more effectively. He makes a compelling case for good medicine to replace the bad. A must read for anyone connected with Canada s legal system." --Catherine Ford, author of Against The Grain: An Irreverent View of Alberta
"Judge John Reilly demonstrates an uncommon understanding of the complex issues and problems confronting Canada's Aboriginal peoples. Were everyone in Canada to share his perspectives we would be much further ahead in overcoming these challenges." --The Honourable Patrick Brazeau, Senator and former National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP)
"[John Reilly's] crusade has touched off a nationwide debate about government policies that are designed to foster native self-determination but may condemn another generation of Indians to lives of dependency and despair." --Steven Pearlstein, The Washington Post
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