Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Cons' copycat crime bill

Tories are copying U.S. crime laws that failed, expert says
2.3 million Americans behind bars
"The Harper government is embracing tough-on-crime policies even as the United States backs away from similar approaches that have produced record levels of incarceration, huge costs and racialized prisons, says an American expert on sentencing policy.
"We've had this get-tough movement for three decades now," says Marc Mauer, head of the Sentencing Project, which promotes reforms in sentencing law and alternatives to incarceration.
"If that's the best way to produce safety, we should be the safest country in the world, and clearly that's not the case.
Mauer's observations are relevant because the federal Tackling Violent Crime Act echoes the punitive approach to crime adopted in the U.S.
The Harper government pushed the bill through even though crime rates in Canada are falling and are now at their lowest level in 25 years."

You know, we used to know better.

Here's a page written by the head of Corrections Service of Canada, in Sept 2000 :
"HTTP Error 404 - Not Found
In an effort to serve you better, we have redesigned the Correctional Service of Canada website. As a result, many of our webpage addresses have changed and some links may be unavailable.
Date Modified: 2008-01-04"

Well, never mind, as it happens I have my own copy :
"American politicians have often found it in their self-interest to use fear of crime as a strategy to win elections, by promising to wage war on crime.It is ironic that in the United States, as in Canada, crime rates have been declining since 1991. However, by waging war on crime they have managed to double their prison population without making the United States a noticeably safer society than Canada. We would do much to advance the public interest if we can better manage the fear of crime than our American neighbours."

Currently one out of every 100 US citizens is behind bars.
Americans spend $44 BILLION a year on corrections -- six times more than they do on higher education.


Cliff said...

Actually crime rates have been dropping since a high in the 70's. It takes a mass media that goes into a feeding frenzy over the fewer crimes that do take place - particularly if they can get all weird and sweaty with 24 hour coverage about a dead or kidnapped pretty white girl- to give the mass of the population the idea that things are worse than ever.

Of course a huge surge of convicts hit with discriminatory mandatory minimums during the crack panic in the 80's are about to all get out at once after seething in the monster factories of the American prison system for years...

West End Bob said...

Glad you posted this, Alison.

The articles I've read and some broadcast news regarding Canadian incarceration had me thinking the same thing. ReformaTories (I love that term!) are once again following failed US policies.

If they're going to blunder along, why can't they be more original ? ? ? ?

RossK said...

"(W)hy can't they be more original ?

Maybe because they aren't.

Original I mean.

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