Pubdate: Tue, 24 May 2011
Source: Chilliwack Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011 Chilliwack Times
Author: Kelly Carter



Letter to the Editor in response to John Martin "Things just got a lot
better," Chilliwack Times, May 17.

As a resident of the "Prison Capital of Canada" I would like to
address Mr. Martins's celebratory tone in regards to the promised
crime bill omnibus. I would like to suggest that instead of "things
just got a lot better," things are about to get a whole lot worse, Mr.

Although the Bill has not been introduced yet we are fairly certain
that much of the language the Conservatives have been trying and
failing to pass (for very good reasons, by the way, Mr. Martin) will
be included in the omnibus. The language I refer to is mandatory minimums.

A proven policy failure in the United States, mandatory minimums are
now being abandoned there. Why would Canada even consider such a
fiscal and human tragedy? Building new prisons and filling them with
people is good business for some. The contracts here in Kingston are
already being awarded to large corporations outside of the area. I
think it would be very interesting to know who is investing in the
future of the Canadian prison industrial complex in Canada. We know
the taxpayers will be paying in the long haul. Corrections Canada is
estimating prison population to increase by 300 per cent in just three
years. Does Mr. Martin really think this will make for safer
communities? Quite the opposite will be the outcome I'm afraid.

The prisons that will be built in order to house the newly "created"
criminals of Canada will be a financial burden for generations to
come. The costs to the taxpayers will be astronomical. Once the crime
bill omnibus is passed, ground will be broken, the prisons will be
built and there will be no choice but to fill them. Is this the future
landscape you want for your children?

Probably the most contested bill, the Organized Crime Bill will set
mandatory minimum sentences of six months in prison for growing six
cannabis plants. This is ludicrous. It will destroy families, give
young people criminal records for the rest of their lives and
potentially create ongoing criminal behaviour. The further irony of
this bill is that it will in fact work to the benefit of organized
crime gangs by potentially decreasing competition in the cannabis
cultivation industry. Gangsters love prohibition, as their profit
margins increase. The 2.5 million admitted cannabis smokers are not
going to stop consuming, but their neighbourhood-friendly growers will
be gone sooner than they think.

Conservatives like what makes sense monetarily. Mandatory minimums are
a disaster financially and for society as a whole. The Crime Bill
costs will never be revealed because they will go much deeper than
dollars and sense.

Kelly Carter

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