Crime Bill C-10 — from the Inside

Posted: June 27, 2012 by Ed Griffin in Prison, Reform
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Another blog from a man in prison in the Fraser Valley Area, one we’ve heard from before. He’s a thoughtful man and a leader in his prison:

New bulletins put out on the units a couple of days ago explained more of the changes that are coming as a result of Bill C-10 (Harper’s crime bill). The impacts of the euphemistically titled “Safe Streets and Communities Act” are going to be felt here for some time.

Prisons for CanadiansWith all the talk that I hear on the unit, or complaining to be more accurate, I don’t hear many men saying that they are done with crime or with drugs, because of the new mandatory minimums and other draconian measures being put in play by the Harper government.

Why, you might ask, would people not make an immediate decision to change their behaviour in the face of these harsher consequence for their actions? There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which is that most of us don’t plan on being caught. We labour under the delusion that we will get away with it forever or that we only got caught because of chance, an informant, bad luck, etc.  What a lot of men don’t face up to is the fact that they are in jail as the result of their own actions.

Another stumbling block to the idea that harsher sentences are going to act as a deterrent is that this doesn’t take into account the desperation of an addict who will disregard the thought of consequences, due to their addiction. For these offenders there has to be another way to engage them in their own rehabilitation. Increased sentences – where  they will spend even more time in a toxic environment – isn’t going to do it.

In the Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator for 2010-11, it was reported that the CSC (the prison administration in Canada) allocated a mere 1.8% of its planned spending on nationally recognized correctional programming. The government is so concerned about public safety that only 1.8% of the corrections budget goes towards the actual rehabilitation of offenders. I could hardly believe the number myself, and I live within the system. I, for one, think that there should be more money spent on all types of programming than the pittance that is being spent on rehabilitation right now.

Our government has allowed itself to be deluded into thinking that locking people up and throwing away the key is the answer to crime. I hope that the public can see past this crazy idea and call on the government to rethink the way it thinks about crime.

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  1. Joanne says:

    1.8%, eh? If that doesn’t say it all, I’m not sure what does. And I wouldn’t doubt if it was possible to reduce the amount spent on rehabilitation, this government would.

    More people need to complain–and that includes people on the inside–so that those in power will take any notice. This needs to become an issue that is talked about in the media, and at dinner tables across the country. We actually do have the numbers, we’re just not that vocal. Let’s forget what people might think and just make more noise. Noise in the form of what is this neglect of rehabilitation doing to public safety?

    Thanks for the great post!

  2. James Inglis says:

    While deterrence has always been the aim of law making and sentencing, the flaw in “specific” deterrence is that only the foolish commit an offence believing they are going to get caught and “general” deterrence likely only influences those that wouldn’t have committed the act in the first place. Ultimately, the Conservatives appear to be focused on the punishment factor of incarceration and the accompanying protection of society from the convicted. With less focus on rehabilitaion I believe the “protection” lapses upon the offender’s release where personal circumstances have not changed while inside. Incarceration remains a justifiable punishment, but the cliche of locking them up and throw away the key remains as counterproductive today as it has always been. Offenders must be held accountable and drug addiction while clearly contributory to many offences must not be used as an excuse for avoiding culpability. However, Canada must return to a philosophy where rehabilitation is the focus of incarceration rather than the current focus which appears to be societal revenge.

    • Ed Griffin says:

      Thank you, James. I will pass on your comments to the inmate who wrote the blog. Your views remind me of restorative justice, a concept I totally agree with.
      Thank you for your comment

    • Ed Griffin says:

      Thank you, James, for your thoughtful post. I will pass your comment on to the inmate who wrote it. Your views put me in mind of restorative justice, a concept I heartily agree with.

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