Sunday, January 20, 2013

Canada's prison plans - Following a failed US example?

It has fallen off the radar of late, our current government's plan to increase Canada's prison population by expanding the prison system.  Capacity is being increased substantially while laws have been changed to ensure more people are incarcerated and for longer periods of time.

Much of this happened without much in the way of debate or discussion, due to the Conservative majority win in our most recent election. 

Given our current Prime Minister's seeming love for all things American, I read with interest a recent article published in the Jan/Feb edition of The Saturday Evening Post:  Jailhouse Blues.

The article makes the point that the United States represents five per cent of the world's population yet houses twenty five per cent of the planet's prisoners.

Is this a model we're looking to follow?  Obviously Canadians have concerns about law and order, and we want our communities kept safe.  That obviously means removing certain members from the overall society.  But are we interested in returning rehabilitated individuals to society, or merely looking to warehouse people until they're released, giving them little hope of succeeding on the outside?

The issue is obviously complex, and almost certainly without a perfect solution.  But incarcerating offenders is expensive, whether they be violent or non-violent offenders. 

Given that our federal government is running large deficits year after year this is likely a discussion worth having.  For fiscal conservatives such as myself I'm not thrilled when I see hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars being spent to further an agenda based on what may very well be flawed reasoning. 

Check the article out and share your comments. 

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