Canadian government toys with mass incarceration

By Alan Bean

I just returned from a nine-day trip to Edmonton, Alberta.  Whether I was attending my 40th high school reunion or visiting with friends and relatives, the nature of my work brought the conversation around to Bill C-10, “The Safer Streets, Safer Communities Act,” sponsored by the reigning conservative government.  In essence, the plan calls for lots and lots of prison construction

Consider the facts.  The United States currently incarcerates 743 people per 100,000 population; Canada incarcerates 117 per 100,000.  If the Canadian crime rate was on the rise there might be some rationale for prison construction but, as in America, the crime rate north of the 49th parallel has been dropping like the anvil in a road runner cartoon for years.

Is Prime Minister Steven Harper trying to shore up his political dynasty by playing the tough-on-crime card that worked so well for so long in the US of A?  Should we be talking about a “Northern strategy”?

This morning the Grits for Breakfast blog referenced an august gathering in which a number of guests from the lock-’em-up state of Texas explained to Canadian officials why massive spending on prisons is an economic and public safety disaster.  You can find the full article from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation site here. 

Also, over at the Canadian version of the Huffington Post, Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett provides her own critique of Bill C-10.

I am rarely embarrassed by the country of my birth, but Bill C-10 is downright embarrassing.

2 thoughts on “Canadian government toys with mass incarceration

  1. Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party has a majority in Parliament, so as soon as the Justice Committee is through with Omnibus Bill C-10, it should quickly become law. I would expect within a month or two at the most. Mr. Harper had promised to enact these laws during his first 100 days in office, and there are some victim’s rights provisions, like having the right to be present at parole hearings, and to be informed of prisoners’ release from custody, that are mixed in the bill with extremely controversial items which change Canada’s policy direction on crime radically.

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