Pubdate: Sat, 06 Aug 2011
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2011 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Tom Oleson


THE prison population in Canada is expected to grow by more than 30
per cent in the next few years. Ironically, this is not because the
crime rate is increasing. The crime rate is actually going down. It is
because the federal government has concluded fewer people should spend
more time in jail so that it can appear that Stephen Harper's
Conservatives are getting tough on crime, as they have long threatened
to do but were prevented from doing by their minority status.

Now they are majority and in a parliamentary democracy that means they
can do pretty well what they want. The widely held suspicion is that
the government wants to build mega-prisons to house our dangerous
offenders such as serial killers and occasional recreational marijuana
growers, teen-aged car thieves and violent rapists.

The world has forgotten what happened in Babel Kill yourself if you
must, but don't make me help The Conservatives deny they want to build
mega-prisons, but they are intent on doing everything else by
legislating minimum penalties for various crimes, some of which, such
as drug use or drug sales, do not even need to be crimes at all. Were
those activities to be decriminalized, it would open up a host of
prison cells for the rapists, the muggers, the serial killers, all the
violent criminals who need to be behind bars.

That, of course, would require a minimum of common sense from our
legislators, and that is apparently too much to expect. So instead of
mega-prisons -- politically unpopular -- we are going to get
mini-maxi-prisons built inside minimum and medium security
institutions such as is now planned at the Stony Mountain Institution.
About 2,500 mini-max cells are planned in correctional institutions
across the country at a cost of almost $2 billion.

When you add to that the fact it costs well over $100,000 a year to
keep anybody in any kind of jail cell for any sort of offence at all,
that's a pretty expensive prospect for a war on crime that we seem to
be already winning without it.

Mexico offers a better deal to the Americans that we could probably
get as well. It will take our shoplifters, our weed smokers, our
teen-aged joy-riders, our rapists, wife-beaters and serial killers
and, for about $20,000 per con per year, lock them up in jails that
will truly teach them they don't want to ever go back. That's cheap at
twice the price if we don't care what happens to these people anyway.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.