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.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is it worth spending billions to incarcerate more people? No, it is a complete waste of money!

New government legislation is expected to increase the prison population. Is it worth spending more taxpayers' dollars on the increased costs?

Out of 732 votes
15.2% said yes 
83.5% said no 
1.4% said unsure

Imprisoning more people for longer periods, is a quick fix, not a long term solution. Why are we emulating the US's expensive, failed and ineffective tough on crime justice system? It has not increased their public safety so what makes us think it will magically work here? Longer sentences have been proven to have adverse effects on inmates, cause further overcrowding issues, increase the chances of re-offending due to the negative prison environment, influences and subculture and decrease the chances of successful reintegration when released, because offenders are provided little assistance and support and often become institutionalized, lack life skills and are not rehabilitated. This does NOT increase public safety. Spending money incarcerating more people is not a solution and is a waste of taxpayers' dollars. Longer prison sentences do not deter, prevent or reduce crime.. in fact in some cases, they increase crime rates. What we need to do, is spend money on crime prevention programs, and addressing the root causes and contributing factors of criminal behaviour, such as reducing poverty, unemployment, addictions, spending money on education, revitalizing impoverished neighbourhoods, addictions treatments, and mental health services. Judges need less reliance on imprisonment and more on community alternatives or shorter prison sentences in minimum security facilities. We also need to provide more assistance to prisoners when they are released and implement more prevention programs and initiatives. The Conservatives' tough on crime ideology is only based on emotional responses, not research, logic or reason. It is only centered on revenge, retribution, vengeance and punishment when we actually need to place more emphasis on rehabilitation, prevention and restoration. We need justice, forgiveness and compassion/sympathy for the marginalized individuals in our society. 

Harper is simply pandering to the uneducated voters regarding crime and justice issues and is only catering to those seeking revenge against criminals by imprisoning them longer. That is not justice. Stop taking ideas from the philosophical theories of the classical school of criminology and look to the modern research and evidence that it doesn't work. Harper is completely ignoring the knowledge and expertise of the criminologists. Revenge may seem sweet, but it is very expensive and unnecessary in modern day criminal justice systems. 

There are too many people in remand awaiting trial or sentencing, who are innocent. Double time credit needs to be reinstated to help lower prison sentences and reduce overcrowding. We also need to grant more people bail. Legalizing marijuana would also be a positive step, as it would take drugs out of the hands of violent gangs where they could be regulated, would reduce prison overcrowding, and help to free up court space. Marijuana users are non violent offenders and should not be imprisoned under any circumstances. They should have the freedom to use marijuana, just like we have the freedom to consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes. We need to focus less on punishment and more on rehabilitation. We need to focus on successful reintegration and helping offenders to become productive and law abiding citizens and members of society one day. We are moving closer to the US model of justice which has been proven ineffective and expensive. There are better models in other countries such as Finland, which we should be emulating. Harper is setting up a law and order agenda similar to that of the United States, which is dangerous. Their ideological approach to justice in Canada has undermined human rights. There is a difference between a justice system and a revenge system. We are moving in the direction of a revenge system, not a justice system.  

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