Pubdate: Mon, 11 Jun 2007
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Susan Arlitt


Re: California prisons bursting at seams; inmates live in hallways, gyms,
June 4.

I hope Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former justice minister Vic
Toews read this article. Obviously, the Conservatives' approach to
their get-tough-on-crime policy by emulating the American system of
building more jails is destined to be a crashing failure.

I cannot understand why this government refuses to listen to the
experts such as criminologists who have said the same thing. Building
more and bigger jails and prisons is not the answer.

In California, the incarceration rates are ridiculously high, keeping
inmates well past their crime-committing ages. Does it work? No!
California's recidivism rate is also the nation's highest.

As Michael Jacobson, director of the Vera Center of Justice in New
York, and a former New York City corrections commissioner says, "It is
a big, complicated, sprawling, expensive, chaotic prison system, and
you are not going to make it better by making it bigger." Why? Because
the mandatory sentencing regime, similar to that originally proposed
by Mr. Toews, "focuses less on rehabilitation and alternate sentencing
than on warehousing prisoners."

Why must our government continue to ignore the advice of the experts
and pander to public fear? Canadian taxpayers will not look back on
the crime policies with affection when their tax dollars result in
more -- not less -- crime and less -- not more -- money to spend on
our languishing health care.

Susan Arlitt,

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