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.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sentencing Act to cost billions

New legislation limiting the credit given to prisoners for time served in custody before and during their trials will cost taxpayers $1 billion to implement and billions more to maintain, the parliamentary budget officer said Tuesday.
The construction of new correctional facilities alone will cost about $1.8 billion over five years, the PBO said in a report quantifying the implications of the Truth in Sentencing Act. A further $618 million will be needed annually for capital appropriations and operations and maintenance costs.
"I knew incarceration was expensive," PBO Kevin Page told reporters Tuesday morning. "When we do the simple math in terms of longer stays, which means higher head counts and we know how expensive … incarceration is, you get to big numbers in a hurry."
Page and his team used figures from 2007-2008 to derive their rough estimates because the federal government was unwilling to provide specific data, the report said.
"Undertaking the type of costing exercise without rigorous bottom-up data from the department [and] absent any discussion with [Correctional Service Canada] poses significant risks," authors Ashutosh Rajekar and Ramnarayanan Mathilakath wrote.
As a result, their report, The Funding Requirement and Impact of the Truth in Sentencing Act on the Correctional System in Canada, relied on historical trends, intuition and probability, the authors said. The report "is limited to a high-level estimation" of the costs, Rajekar and Mathilakath said.
That estimation, however, suggests the costs of implementing and maintaining the new sentencing rules will be far greater than the $2 billion over five years the Conservatives cited on April 28.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews quickly dismissed Page's report, saying he didn't "know where [Page] is getting his information from."
"If you indicate that he wasn't getting any information from Correctional Service Canada, he must be making this up," Toews said.
The Act, which went into effect on Feb. 23, limits the credit judges can give prisoners for time served before sentencing.
Such limits have three major consequences, the PBO concluded:
  • Inmates will spend more time in custody.
  • Convicts whose credit might have kept them in provincial facilities will have to be transferred to federal prisons.
  • Those convicted of lighter sentences who might have been directly released into community supervision will instead be sent to correctional facilities.
The act is expected to increase the number of inmates from 8,618 in fiscal year 2007-08 to 17,058, including 9,021 in community supervision, the report said.

New prisons needed

But Canada lacks sufficient space for so many inmates, requiring construction of 13 new federal and provincial facilities at a cost of $1.8 billion, or $363 million per year for five years, the report said.
The additional facilities would include:
  • Two low-security facilities with 250 cells each.
  • Six medium-security facilities with 600 cells each.
  • Four high-security facilities with 400 cells each.
  • One multi-level security facility with 400 cells.
The new facilities would increase the annual cost of caring for inmates — including operation and maintenance expenses as well as capital appropriations — by about $618 million a year, from the current $2.2 billion to roughly $2.8 billion, the report said.
The PBO was unable to project the financial impacts of the Truth in Sentencing Act for the provinces and territories because of a lack of current data.
However, using a simulation, it projected that annual costs of correctional services would more than double by 2015-16, from $4.4 billion to $9.5 billion, and responsibility for funding the majority of this would shift from the federal government to the provinces and territories.
Liberal public safety critic Mark Holland criticized the Conservatives for "a lack of co-operation and disclosure."
"The costs cannot be dumped on taxpayers and the provinces," Holland said. "The Conservatives must sit down with the provinces and territories to address their very legitimate concerns about how these initiatives are going to be funded."

Imprisoning more people for longer periods will not solve any problems. It will cause further overcrowding in prisons, and not acknowledge the poor conditions and overcrowding experienced by inmates in remand, where they are given little access to exercise and rehabilitation. Imprisoning more people for longer periods, fails to address the root causes of crime and underlying factors such as poverty, unemployment, lack of education, mental illness, addictions, etc. Building more prisons will not solve the prison overcrowding. Judges need less reliance on imprisonment and more on alternative sanctions. We also need to abolish mandatory minimum sentences because they allow judges zero discretion in considering all circumstances surrounding an offender and their crime. Only the most dangerous individuals, such as psychopaths and sociopaths should be imprisoned. The mentally ill, addicted, aboriginals, non violent, drug and property offenders should not be in prison. The Conservatives are basing their policies on zero evidence/research and they are only an emotional response to the public's fear of crime, which is irrational since the crime rates has been declining for 25 years now. The media is to blame for sensationalizing the most violent, rare and unusual crimes. We do not need to get tough on crime, we need to get smart on crime. That means looking at the research, and acting logically, reasonably and rationally. Increasing prison sentences does not have a deterrent effect as most criminals are impulsive and not rational. Most criminals do not consider the consequences of their actions or the possibility of imprisonment. 

The prisons are already over crowded. The number of new spaces will hardly solve the current problem let alone address the added numbers the new legislation wishes to add to the jails.

The Harper regime will not listen to experts on any subject.
Ridiculous ideology and Gut feelings rule the decision making process.

Legalize pot and we can pay for all these new prisons with the tax revenue -- but then we wouldn’t need them. Oh, well….such a difficult problem to solve….

Oh you poor people... you can't even see that any time a politician wants to stay in power all he has to do is scare the populace with words like 'crime' and 'terrorism' and then promise security to get voters' consent to strip them of their civil rights and freedoms. All this in the face of facts that point to crime being historically low. It's working out great down South, however...

Canadians, your country is being taken away from you one misguided bill at a time!

It's really bugging me that people are posting about bringing back the death penalty to save money and space.

Do your research people. Many states in the U.S. are considering getting rid of the death penaly because it costs so much. It costs so much to prosecute for a trial with the death penalty. It's actually cheaper to keep them alive in prison. The CBC even did a story on it. For that reason alone, everyone should be against the death penalty.

The costs here are huge. The benefits are insignifigant --- if any. I am for the death penalty --- if it works. It doesn't - so don't do it. I am for putting people in jail for long periods of time --- if it works. It doesn't - so don't do it. I understand the Provincial jails offend the care people deserve and violate human rights --- so fix them. Judges have been just releasing people early for human rights violations. Politicians want to over-ride the judges and put people in inhumane conditions for longer periods of time. It won't work --- you need to build a lot of prisons and staff them --- very, very expensive. Big bills coming our way courtesy of Stephen Harper. But we are supposed to feel good because we got what? Revenge?

If even a portion of these funds were to go to addressing many of the social ills of our country, we would have many fewer people housed in jails. That Harper and co. simply ignore all the evidence about criminology is, itself, criminal! Why aren't we putting more into Aboriginal communitiees, mental health care, support for our immigrants and, especially into education budgets which, at least in BC, have been reduced to abysmal levels since Campbell assumed the throne? Poor, poor Canada. With Harper at the helm we are quickly losing our humanity!

You've gotta love Towes. He immediately dismisses the report from Page because as he says "If you indicate that he wasn't getting any information from Correctional Service Canada, he must be making this up.".

Of course, in the same article, Page is saying that he is only providing an estimate because the government won't hand over the data on how much it currently costs to maintain it's current level of incarceration.

Hey Towes - get a grip. You're blocking the data that Page needs to put forward an adequate budget analysis, then you complain it's not accurate. What a crock.

I'm not "soft" on sentencing for violent criminals, or any criminals for that matter. However, one really has to be careful what one wishes for when this is all said and done. The simple warehousing of people as an approach to sentencing is not very effective.

By now it should be clear that the conservatives DO NOT care about spending money and putting Canada further into debt.

Western European countries have 1/3 the crime that Canada has, but yet has much lighter jail sentences, i.e. prisoners spend less time in jail and the public spends less.

The Conservatives want to get tough on crime, but spend a lot too. It is time that we get "sensible" on crime, and deal with its real causes, poverty, unemployment, lack of education, lack of family time. Afterall, it is cheaper, and far more helpful, to prevent than it is to focus on punish crimes. Crime prevention experts have known this for a long time; why do the Conservatives lag behind, in the past, yet again?
Those who believe violent crime has gone up should look into how the term "violent crime" and "crime" is defined. A threat to cause harm is considered a violent crime and so is a school yard fight. However, I suspect that many would not consider these to be violent crimes. As well, if three people commit a bank robbery, is this one or three crimes? There are certainly many ways to bend and lie with statistics.

It seems odd that knowing full well that jail doesn't really deter, Harper wants to put more people behind bars. A government playing the crime and punishment card is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

This is insane. We are putting bandaids over the problem, rather than trying to cure it. The solution isn't more prisons, the solution is less prisoners.

Is the crime rate higher today than 100 years ago? If so, why? Specifically, which crimes are inflating the statistics? How can these crimes be lessened or averted?

Some crime is inevitable. There are those who steal because they can. Others steal because they see little hope for gain otherwise. It is this category we need to focus on, somehow work with them to provide alternatives. (Yes, I'm going to get plenty of thumbs down for that.)

Get tough on violent crime....really tough. If we can divert so-called victimless crime away from prisons, use that space to give hard core criminals hard time. And make it tough. If it's clear there's no hope of rehabilitation, take away all but the basic necessitiies. Make prison a much less desirable place to spend time than it is now.

And lastly, for God's sake, get rid of jail time for petty drug offenses. Lock up the organized crime drug dealers and throw away the key, but stop putting people behind bars for smoking a joint. For that matter, make marijuana a legal, controlled, substance as are tobacco and alcohol. (I expect more thumbs down.....it's ok.)

Oh, one more thing........put convicts to work. It's the least we should expect from them in return for for their free room and board.

Take $1 billion of that money and do some research.

A couple of points:

- inmates working for free is by definition slavery and takes jobs away from non-incarcerated people

- retribution is petty and does not reform anyone

-in the US incarceration rates are exponentionally higher as are crime rates

- three strikes and your ot largely contributed to the bankruptcy of the stat of California

-politically victimizing a group of people you consider as non-human tends to get you votes because the bloodthirsty are always looking for an easy victim

- people are incarcerated pretrial and found innocent on occasion

-making jailing into an industry encourages system abuse

I wouldn’t trust this government with a penny it found on the sidewalk. They make no cents…

What level of education does Vic Toews have? Hey Vic, how about you give us an educated response along with YOUR numbers? That would be a good start…

It just seems to me that if you beat people up, then you will have more beaten people. Beaten people don’t function that well. Prisons are places where people are seriously abused both physically and psychologically.

I have a friend who is a criminal lawyer. He told me he never saw a kid benefit from going to prison. Any stay over a month became a training ground for a future more hardened criminal.

Sure you need to remove some people from society. Most of the people we need to remove are serious abusers. We do that right now. Any additional set of people we send to prison will be in with serious abusers. Remember they will get out beaten up.

Some Tories believe that the criminals just laugh at the justice system. “Because you laugh at me, I’ll show you?” sounds like the attitudes of the people they want to incarcerate. It would be better to create programs that increase the chance of getting caught and are more effective at rehabilitation. Both are seriously lacking. Put some money there and forget about the extra prisons.

Tories want to bring in a private prison system. The Liberals / NDP will at some time form a government and will immediately suspend the Tory prison program. Will the tax payer be stuck with a bill for empty buildings or will these private “entrepreneurs / Conservative Party donors” be hung out to dry?

Finally, I wish the conservatives actually believed in their own rhetoric. If they want to introduce “conservative” policies to lower the crime rate, then they should decrease the divorce rate and do everything in their power to reduce the number of broken families and increase the chances that kids grow up in stable two parent families. I don’t hear anything about this.

In my humble opinion that is backed by more than a decade spent on the administrative side in the criminal justice system, Harper and company are intent on moving Canada ever closer to the American philosphy of locking em up more and more-not only at the adult level but unfortunately juveniles as well.

This, inspite of the fact that the more progressive systems utilized in Europe have proven indisputably that rehabilitaion of the less dangerous offenders (which constitute 85% of incarcerated individuals) is much more beneficial to society as a whole-not only in terms of $ spent but also in lowering the rate of recidivism.

Funny how now we're imitating U.S. policy, almost down to the letter.

Even failed policies, like the "Tough on Crime" policy which has their prisons overflowing with people - in fact, the largest prison population in the world (over 2 million) and highest incarceration rate in the world.

And is the U.S. safer for it? Not really. Demographics have helped by reducing the numbers of 16 - 25 year olds as a percentage of the population. But I don;t think there is any public perception of safer streets in the average American's minds.

Meanwhile you have an excellent college for criminals in each and every one of those prisons, especially for the younger offenders who should not be there.

What does this say about our government? Surely not that they'd rather play to voter's fears and anxieties in exchange for votes than to have a sensible approach to law enforcement?
Jail is a negative place

Negative stimuli over a extended period of time tends to have a negative effect on humans.

If you legalized drugs you could cut down on the number of people in prison by 50%

the CONS....the party of prudence and frugality

a $BILLION here and a $BILLION there.....and a $12BILLION surplus turned into a $56 BILLION deficit.....a fake lake here....some more spent over there

I think they need a new slogan

Once again, Harper spends billions of other people's money trying to solve a problem by doing the same thing we've always done. Maybe it's time to revisit some of the laws that are putting people in jail...say, for example, non-violent drug offenses.

Our prisons are full, our taxes are ludicrous, and our policies are increasingly Bush-era American. I think we need to "stand up for Canada" like Harper's campaign ads suggested...by getting him and his neo-con, fundamentalist old boys' club out of office!

This legislation has got nothing to do with making Canadians safer. It has everything to do with making a few Canadians and some Americans richer. All you have to do is look down south and see the mess. The US has one of the largest percentages of the adult population in jail in the world. It is a huge industry with private sector interests making billions.

I shudder to think that 30% of Canadians are once again going to vote PC.

Conservative Party of Canada.....making us more American, one day at a time.

This has got to be collectively the stupidist parliament that Canada has seen since confederation. Every piece of legislation tabled is bought and paid for by some special interest group and has NO benefit for Canadians...

How far do I need to move to get away from the 30% of the country who think they know best how the rest of us should live?

Something terrible has happened to the education system in this country...the Conservatives have reduced spending on education to make future voters dumb enough to believe the CRAP they're serving up...

Oh well it's been a good run....140 years is pretty good...but it's sad to say now its over. The Americans are running the show. Goodbye.

Hey crime has been going down year over year for 15 years. So why not be a "fiscal Conservative" and spend billions more on a problem that doesn't exist? It's only borrowed money that carries interest after all!

Tough on crime? More like tough on our debt! Back to two seats for these clowns!

The gov't's need to appear to "be doing something" is more than the need to justicy the spending. Hey - there's a chance of getting a single point up in the polls ... and the taxpayers are going to pay for it !!

Selling the desire for retribution is easier than selling good gov't - and that's obvious in this story.

When, as a society, are we going to start rejecting the conservative's get tough on crime approach and realize that in so many ways it is really a getting stupid approach?

The only reason conservatives support it is because it is so popular with their base support ... stupid, ineffective, and costly .. but hey, at least it's popular.
Another poorly-planned conservative measure to address a problem that doesn't exist in the first place... must be an election coming soon

Shocking waste of funds and it is of little surprise that Harper has lied so astonishingly about the real costs.

Billions of dollars to service a falling crime rate at the expense of our financial health and any number of other programs like health care that could use the funds badly........

more dishonesty from Harper and once again.....thanks Kevin Page for the reality check.

Time to put the money where the mouth is.

Rightists have been decrying the Leftist system of Justice and now have the pieces in place to institute a system of their own design.

One that is based on stigmas and beliefs rather than research and facts.

But who cares we can always blame the Liberals and NDP when we realize that harsher criminal punishment increases crime and that longer sentences only breeds a stronger criminal industry.

Harper should pay for this retrograde revenge attitude. His lack of knowledge of criminology and basic psychology is abysmal . He will create more hard core criminals than ever and start a vicious self perpetuating circle of human carnage. Great work Stevie. Calling him an idiot would be a compliment.

I have said from the start this act will do nothing but cost us loads of money we do not have: more jail time does make for less crime: it just makes for more time for petty criminals to become really good ones.

Well, we always wanted to be more like the states. The U.S. has one of the highest incarceration rates of the world. I'm sure this will help us on our way.

Man, I could not like this plan less. Whatever happened to putting money towards prevention? The call themselves Conservatives, but they aren't even fiscally conservative.

Investing in social services saves you money in the long run. Lower crime rate, less unemployed, less in the system in general. Start investing in the Canadian people!!

Imagine the good that money could do if it were spent on measures that prevent people from getting tangled up in the law in the first place. That money would amount to a decent university education for over 250,000 students per year. There are very few graduates in prison.

It could take a dent out of child poverty, and help people to become self-sufficient at an early age (which the right-wingers should love even more than having packed prisons).

Unfortunately, our myopic Conservative government would rather appease their tough-on-crime base by recklessly spending our tax dollars on methods that are proven failures, when there are far better solutions. The best answers just require some vision, which we'll never see from this government.

This is typical of Harper's Reform/Conservative Party agenda. He wants to get tough by keeping inmates in jail longer but he has no idea of the cost of doing so. He seems to be hell bent on becoming a GWB clone regardless of the cost to Canadians.

Prison time makes people more disturbed, more traumatized and more prone to behavior problems and addiction.

Do we really want to go bankrupt for drug crimes and mental health incarcerations as California is doing?

More treatment centres for trauma and addiction, please. Save the real prison time for the true baddies. (That is why we have "Classification" and Pre-Sentence Reports, for sorting out accused and inmates.)

Instead of being tough on crime, the Harper Conservatives posture themselves as being tough on criminals. They are choosing to abandon the rational, results-based model that has proven to be successful in Canada, in favour of the emotional, revenge-driven model that has been a disaster for the United States, with a lamentable track-record of 30 years of failure. The cost: more crime, not less, and billions of dollars --- that we don't have --- spent on this disastrous policy.
The courts, will now, have to give shorter sentences, so that jails will not be overcrowded. This will probably not lead to the desired objectives. It can take a long time to build new jails and then threr is the need to staff and provided supplies for these institutions.

This is seeming to become a habit of the cons. Spend billions in the name of security, where it is not required. Our crime rate was continually dropping until the cons got in power. Wanna bet it keeps going up?

The consequences of this Act are, as reported, that
'Inmates will spend more time in custody', 'Convicts whose credit might have kept them in provincial facilities will have to be transferred to federal prisons', and 'Those convicted of lighter sentences who might have been directly released into community supervision will instead be sent to correctional facilities.'

Sadly, the easy conclusions drawn by simple-thinking Canadians are whom Harper targets to boost votes with a tough stance against (blue-collar) crime, while ignoring important details such as the fiscal implications, but more importantly, how we regress towards a society that all-too-easily calls for retribution rather than conciliation. Where is the kinder, gentler and humanitarian Canada that we once dreamed of?

I guess the Conservatives love the American model. Oh wait, the American model has the worst recidism rate in the so called free world. Now that makes sense.

I had thought that the credit reduction would help curb the numbers of "criminals" held in pretrial custody - sometimes the accused will opt to stay in jail because every day spent in jail meant two days knowcked off the actual sentence. That in itself is a huge expense, as well as being morally wrong.

However ... de-criminalize pot, administer it like alcohol, and you would probably save a huge amount of money; and if fines were imposed instead, we could make money. Target the behaviour that is occurring and modify laws to create punishment that fits the crime - but we have to look at what we define as "crime". Should smoking pot be a crime? - producing it? - selling it? - exchanging it for cocaine from Mexico?

Billions of dollars for more prisons? Ridiculous.

So this is the secret announcement where Harper unveils his plans for turning our country into a joke facsimile of the US's failed prison system.
You can tell they don't actually give a damn about the people when their statistics float the economics over the effectiveness.

We don't need more prisons. We need better programs to get troublemakers away from being problematic. We don't need mandatory minimums. They're bad laws that don't do anything except convince criminals to try harder to not get caught. For average people, they're pointless and stupid.

Who does he plan on putting in these prisons?

Canada's love of money is probably the only topic which stirs emotions at a level that is greater than their love of tough justice. I, for one, do not agree that tough justice works; the historical evidence is overwhelming that it does not, nor do I agree that stiffening sentencing is worth billions of dollars when greater issues of no money to rescue health care and a deteriorating educational system exist. This money would be better spent on transfer payments.

Getting tough on crime wields a double edged sword. Play the voter by passing tough legislation and in the aftermath tell them its going to cost a billion dollars, and that is just for starters. Where is the money going to come from, increased taxes. I hope the opposition parties have good policy analysts; they could have a field day with this come an election - Harper the overspender.

The US has found out that putting people in prison doesn't lower crime rates.

Making sure people are gainfully employed cuts crime rates.

Having meaningful drug rehabilitation programs cuts crime rates.

Both of those cost a fraction of what new jails cost.

Reallocation of jail sentences so that violent offenders are locked up, and non-violent offenders do realistic, long-term community service will also help.

I hate this new law. What most of you are not thinking about is the ramification. This law only pertains to people who have not yet been convicted of an criminal offence. Technically they are still innocent until proven guilty. If they get acquitted, then they spent time in jail for a crime they were never convicted of. The old law justifies their detention by saying if they are convicted they will receive 2 to 1 for time served in pre-trial. So my point. We lose the justification defence to detaining people. what really worries me now, is all the potential law suits that will follow of the people that end up getting acquitted. They are going to want an explanation (ie. cash settlement from government at tax payer expense) as to why they spent time in prison despite not being convicted of any crime.

The only people this is bad for, is the law abiding tax payer. This is very dangerous.

This whole thing is a crazy quilt. First, make the Provinces fix the jails so there are no human rights violations. This will remove from the judges a reason to give extra time credit for time served in terrible conditions. Yes, Ontario we mean you too. Once you have done that you can back to 'truth-in-sentencing'. The sentence given can be the sentence served. This will cost billions. Then you can decide to keep people in jail longer --- but in many cases I do not think longer sentences are a deterent. You only up your housing and maintenance costs substantially. Costs more billions. This 'tough-on-crime' ritual in not intelligent and is massively expensive.

It's really sad how our government can waste billions of dollars taking our country and our society backwards.

Instead of investing this money to improve the lives of our people and preventing the root causes of crime, such as poverty (lol), our government is sending more people off, all expenses paid (by the taxpayer) to the University of Crime, aka federal pen.

I seriously doubt this will cause much of a reduction in crime in our country ...it will probably just produce more hardened criminals

There are progressive, modern, intelligent ways of dealing with most of the people incarcerated. The hard core criminals are another matter and very few.
You will not see progressive and more cost effective methods until we get rid of ALL CRAP party members whether cons or liberals.
Everyone except these people know that they are lying about the costs.
All great many people also realize their draconian methods will eventually fail.

If you're in jail, you're in jail. Why should the ineffectiveness of the justice system result in extra jail time? If we're going to spend more money, let's spend it making the justice department more efficient. In that way, justice would be served and jobs would be created.

Harper's retribution-at-all-costs approach is wasteful and seriously medieval.

Do the prisons need to be expanded because they are significantly overpopulated now or is it because there will be more inmates? I a probably wrong here but aren't most criminals who are in jail serving after comitting several crimes already? The new jails and expanded housing for inmates was a necessity and maybe this forces them to find increase space at prisons. Perhaps better facilities could be built at the same time to better educate and rehab these inmates? Give them an education in life skills and they may just have a chance to make productive mebers of society; whether it be as cleaners or labourers, why not give these people a chance?

I get it, because it won't cost as much to lock up a perp for less time we it makes sense to let him/her out early.

While you raise a valid argument, it's not one the Conservatives want to have either. Yes, the cost should not be the primary determinant as to how long to imprison someone, but then the question must be asked: Is there any evidence that society will reap any benefit from this investment in imprisoning more people for longer? We're going to pay to keep 10,000 people in jail an extra 500,000 days (or something) at say $200/day/person. How many fewer crimes will we see for that cost?

The Conservatives have no evidence to this end. Point us to the studies that show a high reoffending rate among these people out on credit-time or who went to less severe institutions because of the shorter sentence. Where is the study or trial of longer sentences that shows an improved reoffending rate or a deterrent effect on the populace?

There aren't any. This is just pure reactionary knee jerk "tough on crime" pandering for those who don't even bother to look up any actual crime stats which show a declining crime rate.

The US has found out that putting people in prison doesn't lower crime rates.

Why do we need to double our spending on prisons when the numbers show the crime rate in Canada has been on a long term decline since the 1970's? This is ridiculous.

The top ranked comment says this will increase the number of jobs in prisons. Well, sure, but if you threw that much money at pretty much anything involving any sort of infrastructure project you'd also be creating jobs. Just think of what this much money could do if you used it for incentives for small businesses.

Prison is a breeding ground for criminals. You throw an 18 year old kid in there and he comes out with a PH.D in violence. Way to go Harper. You might be the one to actually increase violent crime in Canada with this travesty of a law.

I find it amazing that we have the capability of effectively assessing criminals and in doing so could easily become more efficient at ensuring that the most dangerous offenders be incarcerated or incapacitated for longer periods while systematically offering effective interventions for those who are most likely to benefit from programming or are low or moderate risk offenders. This approach would actually save money and make society safer.

Instead, we have a goverment that is willing to focus on punishment for all offenders. They are well aware this practice increases the probabilty of future criminal activity and makes us less safe. However, it will buy votes.

The idea is NOT letting criminals out to save a buck. What this change in policy fails to address is the reason WHY criminals are given two-for-one credit in the first place, which is to ensure speedy trials (i.e. to protect the innocent).

In all the screaming about our 'hug-a-thug' justice system, people seem to have lost track of the fact that despite the occasional sensational headline, our justice system has been proven to be one of the most effective in the world. Our crime statistics, especially violent crime, are about as good as it gets on this planet.

Longer sentences simply DO NOT reduce crime in any way. All they do is cost money and produce more hardened criminals. Yes, there needs to be punishment. But increasing the punishment time beyond where they are simply does zero to decrease crime. We tend to look at this like rational people and think, "If five years scares me, then ten years scares me more". But violent criminals are not rational people. In the first place they don't believe they will be caught. In the second place, anyone willing to risk five months of their life, let alone five years, has ceased to use reason and is working purely on passion and impulse.

We need to punish those who go over the line. But it has been proven again and again that what REALLY reduces crime is preventing people from becoming criminals in the first place, rather than punishing them afterwards. That $1.8 billion put into sports, education, rehab, music, mentoring, etc., will reduce crime a hell of a lot more than in punishing the ones who are already criminals a little longer.

Don't these people cost out any of their plans in advance? Nothing Harper's Conservative government has done seems to have been properly assessed for anything other than vote-buying potential.

Why stop at decriminalizing pot? Let's put an end to the futile and costly fa├žade called the "war on drugs."

If someone's inclined to use a particular drug, they're going to do it, whether it's legal or not. The real harm to society is the burglaries and muggings committed by users to support their expensive drug habits. The government should be giving drugs to anyone that wants them, free of charge.

You'd end up with the same number of people using drugs, a sharp reduction in crime, an end to organized crime's involvement in a now worthless commodity, and a huge reduction in workload for police, courts, jails and prisons across the country.

With the tens of billions of dollars saved every year, we could easily eliminate inflated credit for time served without having to build any new prisons.

"Tough on Crime" doesn't work. Anyone who researches this will find that out. Mandatory minimums in the upcoming legislation haven't even been factored in yet and those costs will certainly be in the billions of dollars.

Crime has been decreasing in Canada. Why would anybody advocate moving toward a US style failed system that is bankrupting state after state. A system that they are moving away from.

Are the Harper Cons stupid enough to support Harper as he flushes Canada down the toilet by fear mongering to the ignorant to get a few votes? Judging from some of the posts here the Harper Cons are just that ignorant. I can see separation movements gaining ground in the West again to try and get out from under the self serving, corrupt, anti-democratic, stupid Harper government.

I love how Con supporters get all righteous and indignant when it comes to this stuff. They get up on their high horses and talk about murderers, and violent criminals, and the victims, and re offenders, and how we need to keep them off the streets. All the while ignoring the facts.

FACT: Canada has had a steadily dropping violent crime rate for over 2 decades after we changed our justice system to reflect rehabilitation over punishment.

FACT: Our re-offender rate has been decreasing the same as fact 1.

FACT: These new rules will not target dangerous offenders, or violent crimes. The people who will have increased sentences are ones guilty of smaller non violent crime. Often Marijuana possession (or trafficking as the new Conservative bill has now dubbed possession.)

FACT: Cost analysis in the U.S. (who have the very system we are trying to emulate) have proven beyond a doubt that there is absolutely no benefit to this course of action, but the costs are bankrupting the nation.

FACT: The U.S. has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world which has also caused them to have one of the highest crime rates.

FACT: California and many other states are letting thousands of people out of prison early because these laws have lead to the bankruptcy of the state.

FACT: American for profit prison companies have the most to make out of this, and are known contacts and supporters of the CRAP.

FACT: People who instead of getting community service or provincial prison will go to federal prison, which is much more dangerous and will require them to become very hardened people. Most will be forced to join a gang, and most will come out worse more educated, much harder criminals.

But as I have said before, the CRAP don't listen to facts or the truth.

Sounds like were are moving towards a U.S. type of justice system and thats not a good thing. I hope to god that the Conservatives dont get voted in for a looong time. They have seriously failed misserably when it comes to Canadian policy. It probably wont be long before Canadians are back at the polls.

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