Saturday, October 23, 2010

Canada's New Crime Legislation (Bill C-25)

Canada’s new ‘get tough with crime’ legislation, costing billions in new construction, is going ahead despite an ongoing debate on the validity of locking up large numbers of people in the US. The argument of Tory minister, Stockwell Day, in face of the declining crime figures in Canada, is that there is an increase in ‘unreported crime’. That logic escapes most people with brains. More, and longer, prison terms for misdemeanors only seems to result in wasted lives, angry people on the street on release, and more disrupted families. Neal Pierce (Toronto Star, August 15, 2010) tells the tale of the 65 year old Texas orchid importer who was accosted in his own home by armed police in flak jackets, frisked, held incommunicado for four hours while police ransacked his home and then charged with smuggling flowers. He was thrown into prison with murderers and drug dealers and sentenced to seventeen months, and then, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, was put into solitary confinement for 71 days for bringing prescription drugs with him to prison. Another consequence of higher rates of incarceration will be higher rates of homeless people on the street as it means higher numbers of released prisoners coming out of jail without money, contacts, or jobs. It’s just another form of intimidation by the state.

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