Monday, June 28, 2010

This truth won't set you free ...

The Globe and Mail published an interesting article on Wednesday, June 22nd. It’s called, “Truth in sentencing must come with truth in spending”. (Unfortunately, the Globe will only allow non-subscribers a limited time to view on line articles.) The article notes that Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page estimates that by 2015 – 16, the cost of running federal and provincial jails will rise to 9.5 billion dollars. Those costs are currently about 4.4 billion. Mr. Page believes that these increases will come as the result of changes to the prison population expected in the wake of the Truth in Sentencing Act. The government denies this will be the case. However even Public Safety Minister Vic Towes has also more than doubled his estimations on prison costs from an initial 90 million to 2 billion over five years.

“Why would the government not tell the truth about the Truth in Sentencing Act?”, states the Globe and Mail? That is a good question.

When the government, (any government) has an agenda, it seems that money is no object. The tough on crime agenda, which means putting more people in prison through laws like “Truth in Sentencing”, is like a speeding freight train gathering more and more steam. It is taking us on a ride that will cost us not just financially but socially as well.

Another good question is, when it comes time to pay for the tough on crime agenda, will the delivered goods be what we want?

This is not the first time the government came up with, what it thought was a good idea, only later to regret what it did. If the Government of Canada could turn back its clock, would they have created residential schools? In five or ten years down the road, when Canada’s prison population has exploded, will the government also want to turn the clock back to today?


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