Pubdate: Thu, 13 Sep 2012
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2012 The Toronto Star
Author: Lisa Kelly


Public Safety Minister Vic Toews last week stated that the practices
of double-bunking are appropriate in Canadian prisons and said he will
not take any steps to ensure a decrease in this serious issue.

I denounce Mr. Toews for even suggesting that double-bunking is an
acceptable form of accommodation in Canada. Researchers, experts and
academics have time and time again demonstrated that double and triple
bunking is considered a safety violation and breach's safety standards
outlined in UN's Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, to
which Canada is a signatory.

Anxiety, fear, depression, stress and ultimately violence and assault
are the result of the pressures associated with double-bunking, which
are taken out on correctional guards, staff and inmates. In addition,
the spread of contamination and communicable and infections disease
are increased as a result of closer and elongated contact.

Mr. Toews had made an additional claim; that the newly passed omnibus
crime bill will not create criminals. I say, quite the contrary. The
Safe Streets and Communities Act has created new offences, enforces
mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes, and criminalizes new
and specific behaviours and activities.

For example, the bill introduces a mandatory minimum sentence of nine
months for anyone caught growing six or more marijuana plants, which
can spill over into the same sentence for someone found sharing a
joint, which could be categorized as trafficking.

The Conservative government has now made it easier for non-violent
activities to be criminalized, thus creating a wider carceral net for
young and first time offenders to fall into.

This bill has not been in place long enough to see the effects
manifest themselves in Canadian prisons. It is too early to declare
that the Conservative punishment agenda is succeeding, as cases and
trails take months, even years to reach court rooms - and ultimately
decisions given the circumstance with each case.

With time, Canada will witness the economic and social costs of Bill
C-10 overwhelm the correctional system and society in turn.

Lisa Kelly,

Crime Prevention Ottawa
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