The latest bit of blatherskite from our Member of Parliament landed in my mailbox the other day. It’s called “Taking Action on Justice.”
What’s just as annoying as the canned content and its “tough on crime” prattle is the fact that some part of my taxes went to pay for the delivery of it to my doorstep (well, actually, rural mailbox, since Ottawa took away house-to-house delivery in my area years ago).
“I am pleased to report that in this new session of Parliament the Government of Canada (at least we’re back to calling it the Government of Canada) has introduced Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act,” Cathy McLeod begins.
“This legislation will help ensure the safety and security of Canadians and is part of our governments (sic) commitment to taking tough action on crime.”
This scattergun piece of misdirected policy, insists the MP’s newsletter, will protect children from sexual predators, keep serious and violent offenders locked up and prevent human trafficking.
“These nine pieces of legislation are essential to ensuring justice for law-abiding Canadian families. We are following through on our commitment to them,” says McLeod.
She notes that Canada is one of the safest countries in the world, but then says crime is too high — no doubt due to all that unreported criminal activity.
I’m willing to bet that after the Conservatives have built all their new prisons, the crime rate will be even higher.
My favourite characterization of this crime bill is “Dumb on crime.” Another commentator called it “criminally stupid.”
Some places, like the U.K. and Australia, are seeing political support for more prisons, while others, like the states of Texas and California, are seeing the opposite.
California, despite having one of the highest budgets south of the border for its prison system, continues to have the highest recidivism rate in the country. Seventy per cent of those who spend time in prison offend again.
Criminologists say recidivism increases as the prison population grows. Conversely, as jurisdictions look for alternatives to building prisons, the crime rates don’t go up.
The Justice Policy Institute in the U.S. recently said this: “The total number of crimes reported to law enforcement have been consistently declining since 2007. This year saw an impressive six percent drop in violent crimes, accompanied by a 2.7 percent decrease in property crimes. According to analysis released today by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), the steadily declining crime rate has occurred as states are incarcerating fewer people and spending less money on corrections.”
What does go up is taxes or, if not taxes, the proportion of same spent on health and welfare and other needs.
Before somebody responds otherwise, this does not mean incarceration should be eliminated as a form of protection and rehabilitation. But to spend billions on a system that has proven highly deficient and expect it to have a significant positive effect on our crime rate is nonsensical.
So when our MP, albeit with the best of intentions I’m sure, sends us mailouts telling us that “Just as Canadians have been clear in supporting our efforts to improve safety and security in our communities, so too have we been clear that this legislation would be a priority…” I wonder which Canadians she is talking to.