Stephen Harper's Omnibus Crime Bill, C-10, passed a couple of days ago. This bill imposes mandatory minimums on non-violent criminals, fewer conditional sentences, harsher sentences for young offenders and will, by all accounts, lead to a higher prison population in Canada.
This Has Already Been Tried - And It FAILED... Miserably
The United States has already gone down this path and there is clear data that these policies have had a negative effect on rehabilitation, recidivism, spending, and society. United States officials have tried to warn Canada and prevent us from making the same mistakes but Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has ignored the sound advice.
Many government officials in Canada have acknowledged that Canada's correctional services are ALREADY under strain and are struggling to provide proper rehabilitative services and health services to the current population. When (it's no longer a matter of 'if') prison populations swell as a result of this bill, the situation will become worse. That is, we will have even MORE prisoners we are unable to rehabilitate and service. We will be sending greater numbers of young, non-violent offenders into a hardened, violent atmosphere that is already to properly rehabilitate the population they already have.
Tough On Crime? Or Dumb On Crime?
The US has warned the Conservatives about the danger of C-10. Eric E. Sterling, who once served as counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, said imposing long jail terms for minor drug offenses has been a mistake in the U.S. and won't work in Canada. All data agrees with this supposition.
Correctional officers have also been vocal in their opposition to C-10. The president of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), James Clancy, recently voiced their position, "When people talk about Harper being tough on crime, I think Bill C-10 demonstrates that the Harper government is dumb on crime."
Democracy Is Endangered By C-10
Experts are against C-10. Correctional officers are against C-10. Most Canadians are against C-10 (CBC voting on the issue has showed that the vast majority of Canadians are opposed). LEgal professionals are against C-10 and warn about the eroding of democracy and public safety. The data unequivocally show C-10 to be a horrible idea. Yet, in the face of all this, C-10 was passed.
One has to ask WHY? Upon asking myself this question, the answers I returned are two-fold.
1. "Tough on Crime" is an easy political score. It's a politically popular stance. It's a great buzzword. And those who voted against C-10 will and have been accused of being "soft on crime".
2. In the United States, one of the main forces behind the mandatory minimum legislation was the Private Prison Industry. They've spent millions of dollars lobbying congress to pass such laws and have made millions more housing prisoners when the government ran out of places to house inmates.
This is a subversion of democracy. As learned in the U.S., these laws have hurt the inmates, state budgets, correctional officers, and society. Yet these laws were passed after private corporations saw a way to profit. All of society suffers while an industry laughed their way to the bank while subverting democracy.
We can expect the same to happen in Canada as the federal justice minister assures us, that “this is not the end; this is just the beginning of our efforts.” So you can expect the Private Prison Industry to begin re-writing our Criminal Code to ensure overcrowded prisons and maximum corporate profits.
Although I have yet to see the connections between MPs supporting C-10 and personal investments in the Private Prison Industry, I am absolutely certain they are there and implore the mainstream media to investigate and uncover these ties.
Our government has made a horrible decision that flies in the face of all reasonable analysis and the only logical reasons are driven by politics or personal gain at the expense of our country. Our Democracy and Public Safety are threatened by the passing of this bill and there is only one way to protect them - Repeal C-10.