Pubdate: Mon, 08 May 2006
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Norm Vinson
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


Re: New Tory sentencing rules would put more criminals in jail at 
hefty cost, May 4.

So Steven Harper says he will reduce crime by introducing mandatory 
minimum sentences and longer sentences. Does anyone seriously believe 
that a longer sentence will lead a drug lord to retire, or a sexual 
predator to celibacy? Criminals are criminals because they either 
don't believe they will go to jail or they don't care. Either way, 
increases in sentences won't deter them.

If longer sentences and putting more people in jail were a good way 
to reduce crime, the United States would be the safest place on 
Earth. It's not. The U.S. keeps about seven times more of its people 
in jail than the average among industrialized countries. According to 
Corrections Canada data for the year 2001, the U.S. has 0.7 per cent 
of its population in jail and the average is about 0.1 per cent. 
Canada has 0.12 per cent of its population in jail.

If more jail time meant less crime, we would expect that the U.S. 
crime rate would be about seven times less than that of other 
countries. Well, it's not seven times lower. It's about average.

About 21 per cent of Americans were crime victims in the year 2000. 
For Canada the number is 24 per cent. These rates are about average 
for OECD countries according to the OECD Factbook 2006: Economic, 
Environmental and Social Statistics.

Putting more people in jail does not seem to reduce crime at all. It 
does, however, cost a lot of money. The Harper government is setting 
aside $220 million to $240 million to build new jails. Corrections 
Canada says it cost $81,000 to jail a man and $151,000 to jail a 
female in 2003 to 2004.

If we increase our incarceration rate by a measly 10 per cent, I 
estimate that it will add another $325 million more per year to the 
cost. That's per year! And for what? For nothing!

Norm Vinson,

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