And this with the crime rate going down.
Stephen Harper has come up with a policy about crime – and what incarceration should be all about. He feels, even though that crime is on the way down, so this means the judicial system is actually working, he feels that he has to electioneer that he will bang people up more. Why?
If a system is working and the judges are happy with it – why change it? For changing it just for the sake of it?
The system which we are talking about is conditional house arrest. Stephen Harper wants to change it so that judges must send people to prison. Now am I at odds with him? Well in some ways yes – I could understand it if the crime rate was going up and people needed to be taken off the streets, that is how it should be. But, again, this isn’t the case.
The old adage applies “If is ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Speaking in Saskatchewan, Harper said his government’s past attempts to end house arrest were thwarted by the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc Québécois during the last session in Parliament.
“Unlike the opposition parties, we don’t believe that house arrest is a suitable punishment for those who commit these kinds of crimes, and Canadians don’t believe it either,” Harper said during an appearance in Saskatoon while campaigning for the Oct. 14 federal election.
The Conservatives say more than 11,150 criminals were serving conditional sentences in 2006, including 2,791 convicted of violent crimes.
So, is Mr Harper stating that prison is to become a place of punishment? If that is the case that isn’t the Canada I know and love. Rehabilitation of the offender has been something I have admired from far away about Canada. I have said many times in the past that I wish the UK would take on a lot of the Canadian viewpoint in rehabilitation. Rehabilitated prisoners are far more productive than men and women who have been simply punished. Not only that – you have to house prisoners if you are going to put them into prison. That will mean – by taking away the judges option, people will fill those prisons and more will have to be built. That, and then the cost of having a person in prison doesn’t make economic sense.
At home, on conditional house arrest, and as far as I know – all the heating, feeding, etc – is at the criminals expense, in prison it is at the governments expense. But I could be wrong.
Harper also dismissed questions by reporters over concerns by some criminologists and police who say the Tories’ previously announced measures are heavy-handed and won’t make Canada any safer.
“Yes, we believe they’re wrong,” Harper said. “We’re listening to ordinary people, not people who work in ivory towers, but people who actually work on the street and deal with crime on a day-to-day basis.”
Studies in the U.S. have shown that the states with the toughest prison sentences had the least success in driving down crime rates in the 1990s. One result of longer sentences is costlier prisons that absorb resources that could otherwise be spent on more police officers or crime-prevention programs.
What ordinary people? And who is it that is working in ivory towers – I am a bit lost on that one.
“Our party believes that the foundation of our criminal justice system should not be the welfare of criminals, but rather, the protection of honest, hard-working citizens and their families,” he said.
“We believe that offenders do have rights, but they also have responsibilities, and that victims also have rights.”
But the system is proving that it works as of now – so why change it? Victims of crime do have rights – that is a given, victims should have as many, if not more resources pumped their way – but I ask this, if you are going to punish people by locking them up when there isn’t any real need to, that take away the justification that victims get more because they have seen the perpetrator punished.
If they are at home and can do something to pay back the victim and be rehabilitated that way, isn’t that a better way of fulfilling what you want to achieve?