Sentence increases for ganja in prison

Second conviction could add six months to inmate’s term

Possession of ganja by someone in prison is being punished with a consecutive sentence to whatever term the defendant is serving, but Magistrate Valdis Foldats this week announced his sentencing policy for a second conviction of someone with ganja in custody. 

He was hearing details in the case of Cleve Borden, 28, who pleaded guilty to possession of 162 grams (about 5.7 ounces).  

Crown counsel Candia James said the offense occurred on Oct. 11, 2014, when guards conducted a cell search at Northward Prison. A plastic bag was recovered from under the mattress in the upper bunk. The bag contained two packages, the contents of which were later tested and shown to be ganja. 

Ms. James said Borden and his cellmate were both charged. However, because of the location of the package, the charge against the other man was subsequently withdrawn. That man has since been released on completion of his sentence. 

The magistrate noted that he had sentenced Borden in April 2014 to 30 days consecutive for possession of ganja. He pointed out that he had given the defendant a warning that any further similar offending would be met with a longer consecutive sentence. 

“You didn’t heed the warning,” he told Borden. 

The defendant accepted that fact, but told the court he had “stopped smoking” in December. 

The magistrate asked, “If you were tested right now, would you be clean?” 

“Yes, sir,” Borden replied. 

The magistrate immediately ordered a drug test and a court marshal subsequently confirmed that Borden was clean. 

“I want to focus on what you’ve done right, because you’re a smart young man who has decided he doesn’t want to be in jail any more. That was an enormous step,” the magistrate told Borden. 

He said he had to warn him again – that if he got caught with ganja a third time, the sentence would be even longer. “We have to send a message not only to you but to everyone else in jail,” the magistrate pointed out. He said drugs in prison interfere with discipline and good order. 

Hearing that Borden expected to complete a four-year sentence for drugs in April 2016, the magistrate urged him to focus on a release plan and stay very strong. 

He said the starting point for a second conviction for ganja in prison would be six months consecutive. 

But he could give Borden credit for coming clean. “You did everything you’re supposed to do,” the magistrate said, “so I can adjust the sentence down to four months.”  

Then he gave further credit for the guilty plea, arriving at a final figure of three months, which will be consecutive to whatever sentences Borden is now serving.  

The ganja was ordered to be destroyed.