Saturday February 5, 2011

Voices

Canada's Tories Are 30-Years Behind The Times

Tough-on-crime approach is even tougher on taxpayers

Submitted Dick Harrington, Hope BC

 

ne of Harper's central campaign platforms in the next Federal election will be his so-called "tough-on-crime" agenda.

 

In this, Harper will try to prove to you that only the Conservatives are being tough on crime. They will point to their plan to spend billions of your dollars to build new prisons.

The intent of this is, that by putting more people away for longer periods of times, the crime rate will fall and all those "dastardly" criminals will be away from us.

This unbelievably simplistic agenda is not only 100% wrong, it is ridiculous to the extreme.

If a "tough on crime" agenda works, then why is it that every "right-wing" state in the United States has come to realize the folly of this approach? Why is it that over thirty years ago, Americans began to realize that filling the prisons does not alleviate crime, it in fact increases it.

As NDP MPs Don Davies and Pat Martin recently pointed out in the Canadian Parliament, U.S. conservative politicians are calling for rehabilitation and investments in community services. Even former Republican U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote a piece in the Washington Post suggesting U.S. prison policies are too expensive and don't lead to effective rehabilitation of criminals.

Gingrich noted that it cost $68 Billion to run U.S. prisons in 2010 and that the prison population is growing 13 times faster than the population of the U.S. Yet, half of released prisoners will commit another crime within three years. Many Americans are advocating initiatives such as drug-courts, mental illness treatments, and keeping the prisons only for dangerous offenders by putting low-risk offenders into community supervision.

It has been pointed out in various media sources that, in Texas, such initiatives have saved the state $2 Billion in prison costs and reduced the crime rate to record low levels.

Pat Martin has stated " The Conservative right-wing ideology of trying to lock up a whole generation of aboriginal youth is outdated". We all know that aboriginal youth make up a disproportionate percentage of the prison population in Canada.

So, as you see Harper pushing this antiquated crime agenda, please remember that even in very conservative U.S. states, they have come to realize the folly of their past ways and are looking for initiatives that really work. Don't you think that it is time that we did the same in Canada?

Dick Harrington is the campaign manager for NDP Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon candidate Gwen O'Mahony.

 

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