Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Harper government moves to impose "earned parole"

OTTAWA — The Harper government intends to table legislation that would force offenders to earn their parole instead of being released into community supervision before serving their full sentences.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Monday he will introduce a bill that makes good on the longtime Conservative election promise of imposing "earned parole."
"Our government is moving toward, very simply put, you have to earn your parole, you have to justify being out on parole and we will be taking steps fairly soon in respect of that particular issue," he said.
Toews plans to hold a news conference Tuesday morning after tabling his legislation in the House of Commons.
As it stands, release is virtually automatic after prisoners serve two-thirds of their sentences; they complete the remainder under supervision in the community.
Prisoners serving life or indeterminate sentences, however, are ineligible and statutory release can also be denied if an offender is believed to be dangerous.
The government also tabled a bill last fall to end "accelerated parole," in which offenders convicted of non-violent crimes, such as white-collar crime, are eligible for day parole after serving one-sixth of their sentences and full parole after completing one-third.
That bill died when Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament in December.
Chris McCluskey, a spokesman for Toews, did not respond to an email request Monday to clarify how far the government will go in its new bill — whether it would include abolishing statutory release, or accelerated parole, or both.
The House of Commons is expected to break for its summer recess as early as this week so it is one of the government's last chances until September to introduce legislation.
In late 2007, a key recommendation of a government-appointed panel was to eliminate statutory release in favour of earned parole tied to following a corrections plan.
In a counter-report last year, prisoner-rights advocates Graham Stewart and Michael Jackson quoted an estimate from the John Howard Society that ending statutory release — which would mean offenders would spend 50 per cent more time incarcerated — would cost at least $1 billion. There were no further details of the cost estimate in the report.
Stewart and Jackson noted that one of the justifications for adopting statutory release in the first place was to better protect the public by ensuring prisoners would be supervised in the community for a period of time rather than leaving penitentiaries with no strings attached.

Abolishing stat release would have detrimental effects. First of all, it is very expensive because more prisoners will be spending longer portions of their sentence in prison. This also creates further overcrowding. Mandatory supervision in the community is essential in facilitating successful reintegration and rehabilitation of offenders. Without it, offenders who did not earn parole would be released with no supervision, conditions, assistance or support, and this would increase their rates of re-offending. This is NOT in society's best interests or in the interests of public safety.

Those who cannot be rehabilitated and don't deserve to live a normal life should be kept in jail (and I am more than okay with paying taxes for them to do so) and those who can should get proper rehabilitation services for them to become contributing members of society. At this point we really have neither, and thus brings us to the ridiculous amount of crime we have.

Most inmates in Headingley are there for crimes of stupidity or they are victims of drug prohibition. Criminal masterminds are pretty thin on the ground. Lots of gang members having stupid contests, riots being the acme of that art. You live under the law of the jungle, the toughest guy is always right. Whoever has the highest level of violence on tap runs the place, with the tacit consent of the staff. Bullies give workshops in their art at the slightest provocation. The guards generally get there too late or not at all.

Think jail is a great place to be? Then you're merely flaunting your ignorance. I feel sorry for anyone who's life is so pitiful that they would think jail was an improvement. All those great facilities? First off, they're not so great. Second, you have to be ready to fight for these privileges. Since you're going to be seeing these people at close quarters for a while, not a good strategy. It's generally best to leave that sort of thing to the gangs and just keep your head down and read a book.

Some people belong in jail but most don't. Maybe the commenters that are designing schemes to have their revenge on anyone that runs afoul of the law could instead bend their wit to coming up with a way to deal with these non-criminals. Something like a halfway house might be the answer. Helping is a lot better for the soul than hating.

This is a tough situation for Mr. Toews. I do think that parole should be earned, but for the ones that don't earn it, this will only make it more likely that they reoffend when they get out. There should still be certain conditions for those that are released after serving a full sentence. Hopefully Mr Toews addresses this issue as well.

generally we don't send people to jail for non-violent crimes. Except for maybe drug crimes, which I don't quite agree with. Most of the time people in jail have committed some sort of violent crime, and then jail is justified. However like I said, there should be better rehabilitation services. I'll admit a big problem is gang members getting together and plotting things out in jail, and I'm not sure what the best solution would be to that, but I think it would help to have options for them. You can't force treatment or rehabilitation on them, so if the options are there and they still choose to lead the gang life, even in jail, then that's their call. They can continue down that life and so long as they are kept in jail, then it's not really a worry of society's.

Jail is probably the biggest obstacle to rehabilitating the criminals that could be rehabilitated. All it teaches is things like might is right. Weapons help. Violence pays. I have no problem with locking up violent people but jail has nothing but a negative effect on non-violent people. We shouldn't be throwing them in for the bullies and misanthropes to feed on.

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