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

The problem with pardon reform legislation

On May 11, Vic Toews introduced new legislation in bill C-23, The Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act. There was a huge flurry of debate over this legislation, but that died down soon afterwards and has been almost completely forgotten by the general public. Yet it is important that the public carry on the debates, as the bill is being prepared for a second reading as I type. As a refresher, here are the main points of the pardon legislation changes:

· The term ‘pardon’ would be changed to ‘record suspension’

· Eligibility time periods to apply for a pardon/record suspension would be increased from the current 3-5 to 5-10 years

· Individuals with more than 3 indictable offences, and individuals convicted of certain sexual offences against minors would never be eligible to apply for a pardon/record suspension

· The National Parole Board (NPB) would be given greater power to look into the details behind each conviction when deciding whether to order or refuse to order a record suspension

A recent poll conducted by Angus Reid found that 63% of respondents wanted their MP’s to vote in favour of the bill. Yet this bill could be potentially hazardous for the overall health of our country. It’s common knowledge that people with criminal records often experience more trouble when trying to get a job, travel, volunteer, and even entering into certain education streams. A criminal record creates a barrier that prevents these individuals from moving on with their lives and becoming law abiding citizens.

This is where our government’s main focus should be;

a) looking at how to prevent the crimes from occurring in the first place by creating more funding for community and social programs, and

b) providing more resources and assistance to those with a criminal record. People with a criminal record are limited in many of what the rest of Canadians consider basic choices, and because of this, many are driven back to crime.

It is going to cost taxpayers more in the long term to support these individuals while they are in jail. Additionally, according to statistics released by the NPB, over 96% of individuals who get a pardon do no reoffend. This shows that the vast majority of people who get pardons go on to live as law abiding citizens. Is it logical that we should make it more difficult for these people to move past their criminal record?

This article was contributed by www.pardons.ca.

No comments:

Post a Comment