The ombudsman for federal prisoners says the effects of harsher sentencing laws brought in by the Conservative government are being felt in overcrowded prisons, where interaction between staff and inmates is becoming increasingly rare and rehabilitation is undermined.
“We have certainly seen the impact of the increased number of mandatory minimum penalties,” Howard Sapers, the Correctional Investigator, said Friday in releasing his annual report for 2009-10.
Even though the crime rate has been dropping for many years, “we’ve seen more offenders being directed into federal penitentiaries and, for the most part, staying longer,” he said.
That has had a marked effect on the atmosphere inside the prisons, said Mr. Sapers.
“The climate is increasingly harsh, tense and stressed and it’s undermining the rehabilitation efforts,” he said.
“Current conditions inside our federal penitentiaries are undermining … rehabilitation efforts and are challenging the ability of our correctional authority to deliver a correctional service that is fair, safe and humane.”
The government said Friday it is reviewing Mr. Sapers’s report.
But a spokesman for Vic Toews, the Public Safety Minister, said the government has taken steps to help improve the lot of prisoners.
“For instance, our government has invested more than $50-million in funding to the Correctional Service of Canada for mental health over the past five years,” said Chris McClusky. “CSC has both increased access to services for inmates and training for staff so that they can recognize mental health issues. These are all resources that did not exist before.”
In addition, he said, the government has provided approximately $2-billion over five years to increase capacity within existing prisons. And there is a plan to spend $9-billion on new prisons, as estimated by the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
But, for now, Mr. Sapers’s report paints a picture of aging and crumbling correctional facilities that are required to house more people than intended.
“Offender populations today include a disturbingly large number of those with mental illness,” he said. “Correctional staff are dealing with increasingly complex offender profiles. These profiles include histories of gang membership, chronic illness and substances abuse.”
That has changed the relationship between prisoners and guards and tested accepted notions of good correctional practice, said Mr. Sapers.
Use-of-force incidents, including the use of inflammatory agents such as pepper spray, as well as situations in which firearms have been deployed, are on the rise.
Double bunking – the placing of two offenders into a cell that was designed for one – has increased by more than 50 per cent in the past five years.
And there has been declining interaction between staff and inmates, with more use of barriers, seclusion, and electronic surveillance – a shift that runs counter to the policies of the Correctional Service of Canada.
“We all have an interest in ensuring that our correctional system treats offenders fairly,” said Mr. Saper. “The vast majority of offenders will be returning to society so we all benefit from them having received adequate services and rehabilitation treatments before they return to their communities.”
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
The Government can dramatically reduce the prison population in Canada but
making vitally necessary urgent legislative changes for equity and justice.
First, Canadian men have next to no legal rights. Canadian children have no legal right to know even who their father is. Birth certificates should contain DNA proof that the father named is the father or the DNA made available for checking by any male who suspects they may have been an unwitting Cperm donor.
Second, Canadian children have NO right to equal parenting this drives criminal and family law that puts tens of thousands of men in jail for no other reason than a vindictive woman chose to alienate the children from them.
Third, Child support guidlines are designed by feminists to impoverish men. Child support needs to factor in ANY Access time and factor the incomes of the parties.
A rich mother getting child support and its spousal support component, is classic injustice that is child abuse.
Other jurisdictions do it very differently, Ontario makes it next to impossible to vary an order. In Australia, support is based on Tax returns. Australia also has a legal presumption of equal parenting and an entirely different view and application of "guidlines".
Fourth, our judiciary are famously CORRUPT. They decide which lawyers get paid, Orders for costs, are often just corruptly ordered payouts for their friends.
Judges make decisions "on order", probably the most well known offender is Justice Allan Sheffield who makes arrangements to hold hearings to overturn other judges orders.
Sheffield will make orders for support when no evidence is even alleged of an income, Sheffield will terminate a child's relationship with a father PERMANENTLY and make his decision impossible to appeal or vary for life and guarantee that the father goes to jail.
Sheffield will order costs on even a simple reasonably requested adjournment against of course, an unrepresented male to a female lawyer he knows.
Sheffield and Power in Ottawa together leave a trail of destruction that fills Canadian jails all as a result of their own CORRUPT decisions.
Canada can start reducing prison populations by screening out the psychopaths from the judiciary. Canada needs a POLICE for the judiciary, who are out of control, the most well known flagrant abusers of judicial power do so with impunity and bring the administration of justice, the judiciary and the legal profession into disrepute that makes Canada's legal system international reputation as something that will make any father in the world want to vomit.