Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You be the judge

The Harper government is moving to expand the prison system, and toughen Canadian corrections policies, including pushing for longer, harsher prison sentences.
• Statistics Canada report: "Police-reported crime in Canada continues to decline. Both the volume and severity of police-reported crime fell in 2009, continuing the downward trend seen over the past decade."

• UBC professor Michael Jackson and former John Howard Society head Graham Stewart in their report rebutting the Harper government's proposals: "This is a vision that offers a false promise of public safety, obscuring its great detrimental impact on the protection of human rights and effective corrections."

• Ian Brodie, Prime Minister Harper's former chief of staff: “Politically it helped us tremendously to be attacked by this coalition [of sociologists, lawyers and criminologists]. So we never really had to engage in the question of what the evidence actually shows about various approaches to crime.”

The Economist article: "In 1970 the proportion of Americans behind bars was below one in 400, compared with today’s one in 100. Since then, the voters, alarmed at a surge in violent crime, have demanded fiercer sentences. Politicians have obliged. New laws have removed from judges much of their discretion to set a sentence that takes full account of the circumstances of the offence. Since no politician wants to be tarred as soft on crime, such laws, mandating minimum sentences, are seldom softened. On the contrary, they tend to get harder."

Wikipedia item: "According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) 7,225,800 people at year end 2009 were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole — about 3.1% of adults in the U.S. resident population."

• Former prisoner and now ordained United Church minister, Rod Carter: "If long harsh prison sentences worked, the United States would be the safest country in the world. This is certainly not the case."

Washington Post article: "In 2005, Texas began implementing sentencing changes and poured money into drug treatment and probation programs. The overhaul slowed the state’s incarceration rate, led to a 12.8 percent drop in violent crime since 2003 and saved the estimated $2 billion that would have gone to building new prisons to house inmates, according to a 2010 state report and advocates. Lawmakers in Florida and Georgia are considering similar changes. "

1 comment:

  1. I haven't paid any attention to this issue since the hysteria over Stockwell Day's comments about needing more prisons because of all of the 'unreported crime' in Canada. Didn't know it was still on the table.