Government faces hard sell for thousands of new jail cells


From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

Thousands of new federal prisons cells will be created at a cost of more than $600-million to house a population that is expanding as a result of the Conservative government’s justice agenda.

But, unlike the early years of the Conservative mandate when the words “soft on crime” effectively stifled criticism of policies heavily weighted toward punishment, a looming era of fiscal restraint is forcing the government to defend large investments in the corrections system.

With costs predicted to increase in both the short and long term, and as the political opposition grows louder, it may be more difficult for the government to get its crime legislation passed by Parliament – or to convince the public that the expense is justified.

How many new cells will be created?

A total of $150-million in new spending was announced Monday to add 634 beds in Quebec, the Prairies and Ontario. When combined with previous announcements, $601-million will be spent to create 2,552 additional beds at existing institutions.

The Correctional Service of Canada eventually plans to create 2,700 beds at current facilities. But that is just a stopgap measure. The CSC is also working on a long-term plan to build new penitentiaries.

What does the opposition say?

Opposition MPs once met Conservative crime announcements with grudging acquiescence, but fiscal restraints have changed things.

Joe Comartin, the NDP justice critic, said there has been a turning point. “In a period of time when crime rates continue to drop and we are in bad economic times, the sentiment on the street is very negative toward this” expansion of the prison population, Mr. Comartin said.

Mark Holland, the Liberal public safety critic, agreed.

“The big change was when we started to see what the costs were,” he said. “It was one thing to consider these measures when you thought the cost was a few million dollars. But when you start to talk about tens of billions of dollars in expenditure, we just can’t sustain that. Nor is it logical when crime rates are falling.”

What measures have and will increase prison populations?

The law that is most often cited as adding to prison population is the so-called Truth in Sentencing Act, which ended the practice of giving criminals double credit for the time served before sentencing.

Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, estimated that law will require an additional 4,000 prison cells, which cost an additional $5-billion a year to operate – not including initial construction costs. The government disputes those figures.

But there is a myriad of other government bills that, if passed, would also lead to more incarcerations. They include changes to the Criminal Code that would impose mandatory sentences, eliminate conditional sentencing for some types of offences, and end early parole.

One bill before the Senate that would impose harsher sentences for drug offences would alone put 5,000 to 7,000 additional people behind bars, most of them in provincial facilities, Mr. Comartin said.

Will increased prison populations lead to safer communities?

Conservative MP Laurie Hawn says increased sentences are just part of the process that will also include education and rehabilitation.

“But simply put, we believe if somebody commits a crime that warrants 10 years in prison according to a judge’s ruling, then that means 10 years,” Mr. Hawn said, “and I can tell you that that guy, or gal, is not going to be offending while they’re away.”

Criminologists, however, generally agree that incarceration is not the best way to make streets safe.

“It’s going to cost you seven times as much to reduce crime through adding prison capacity as it would to invest in programs that teach effective parenting, programs that help kids get back into school,” said Irvin Waller, a crime expert at the University of Ottawa.

Justin Piche, a PhD student at Carleton University in Ottawa who has done extensive research on prison populations, said: “Any studies that have been done in criminology or sociology have shown that increasing the use of imprisonment has a negligible impact on crime.”




Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre


It's another example of Mr. Harper's "good politics" and "bad policy" decisions that has at first, a knee jerk approval to "keep criminals in jail".

There is an assumption by those who approve of the conservative agenda that "I'm not a criminal and it does not affect me".

The same group fail to ask any questions as to why the conservatives want to dramatically increase jail populations when crime is decreasing?
With crime decreasing, why have not the amount of prisoners decreased? Because the conservatives keep tinkering with the system to make sure that those put in jail stay there longer and longer without ANY benefit to society.

Longer periods of incarceration don't reduce crime, the longer someone is in jail the longer it takes to get back on their feet, the more changes occur and the more institutionalized the prisoner's become.

Increasingly, MEN are being incarcerated not for any criminal offense but being sentenced to long terms in jail "without a trial" simply to stop men being parents.

Real Crime Starts in Family Court

It takes a dead beat judge to create a dead beat dad.

Its enough to make you want to puke.


2-1 continued
That's right, the subterranean part of the Judiciary, the worst of the worst in Ottawa are Justice Allan Sheffield, Denis Power, Cheryl Robertson Aitken and Desousa who make decisions that are tantamount to putting a father in jail simply to ensure he can't be a father, to enable a mother to say.. "you can't have contact with your daddy because he is, well, in jail".

Ontario Fathers are increasingly being thrown in jail for long periods of time for being unable to pay the amount of child support ordered. The orders are generally based on fictitious incomes for which no evidence existed, the orders are made to be "impossible to pay" which result in guaranteed eventual incarceration which only adds more arrears.

Orders for support are next to impossible to vary, the most vile and corrupt of the judiciary like Justice Allan Sheffield make their orders 'appeal proof', that is the orders for support NEVER END and are impossible to vary, for ever.

The underbelly of the judiciary are taking advantage of the Conservative mantra to abuse their judicial and fiduciary responsibilities by habitually putting in jail, not criminals, but innocent fathers whose only crime is to be born with testicles.

IF the conservatives want to put some real criminals in jail, they should go down to 161 Elgin Street Ottawa and sit in any family court room and watch the underbelly of the judiciary, Sheffield and Power do their dirty work.

The conservatives need to bring in a legal presumption of equal parenting, a police for the judiciary, and mental health screening for the judiciary to prevent the now serious problems of psychopaths and borderline personalities habitually flagrantly abusing judicial discretion for their own reasons of hatred and revenge.

Real Crime Starts in Family Court

It takes a dead beat judge to create a dead beat dad.

Its enough to make you want to puke.