Pubdate: Wed, 08 Oct 2008
Source: Peterborough Examiner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Peter Ouimet


Re "Candidates bicker over fighting crime" (Oct. 3)

The article quoted MP Dean Del Mastro as saying it was time "to stop
this whole notion of rehabilitation and reintegration" and "it's so
easy, if somebody's bad that's what we have prisons for." This
attitude reflects the Conservatives' "tough on crime" policies.

Sounds so simple. Except it doesn't reduce crime. In the U. S. in
1985, prior to President Ronald Reagan's "war on drugs" and strict
sentencing laws, there were 200 prisoners for every 100,000 people. In
2004, the rate was 723 prisoners for every 100,000 Americans -almost
seven times the Canadian rate. If harsh prison sentences deter crime,
American crime rates should be a lot lower than Canada's. However,
exactly the opposite is true and many states are backing away from the
harsh penalties.

In 2005-06, the annual average cost of keeping an inmate in a Canadian
penitentiary was $88,067. It costs substantially less to maintain an
offender in the community: $23,105 per year, with comparable or better
outcomes. Abolition of statutory release will require about 2,310 new
cells, at a construction cost of around $924- million and annual
maintenance costs of $203 million. Do we want policies that don't work
and are enormously expensive? I don't think so. Canada's health care
system and transportation infrastructure are in need of major investment.

A number of community agencies successfully reintegrate men from
prison back into the community. Their goal is community safety and the
reduction of crime. I fear that MP Del Mastro and the Conservatives
will not support and may even hamstring these efforts in the future.
My hope is that voters will keep these comments in mind on ballot day.

Peter Ouimet

President, Peterborough Community Chaplaincy
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin