By John Hulton, Executive Director, John Howard Society of Manitoba, Winnipeg, in Globe and Mail Letters to the Editor, March 31, 2011
While it is true that programming offered in federal prisons can be an effective tool in terms of rehabilitation (of prisoners, as suggested by D'Arcy Jenish in "Harper Judged It Right: Fixes Are Needed," March 30, 2100), there is already a shortage of resources for programming and these new laws are making a bad situation even worse.
Figures recently released by Correctional Service of Canada show that 40 per cent of offenders requiring programs in 2009-2010 did not get them.
In his annual report, Canada's Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers expressed concern over this and predicted the situation will worsen as prison populations increase due to new legislative changes (brought in by the Harper government.)
We have only to look south of the border to see that when the number of prisoners inreases, programming is the first thing to go; prisons become nothing more than warehouses which do little if anything to rehabilitate inmates.
This is one of the reasons why Newt Gingrich, a prominent U.S. conservative, has spoken out publicly against the very kind of changes the Harper government is promoting because they simply aren't effective.
Longer incarcerations, for more prisoners is simply not the way forward for Canadian law enforcement, even if there is a small band of arch-conservatives, forming the base of the Conservative party, that self-righteously supports such moves. As the crime rates are falling, by all statistical evidence, across the country, there is only the twisting of the evidence to justify the ideological approach to "evil" in this case represented by those whose actions are considered criminal, in order to eliminate that "evil".
Basing decisions on the empirical evidence, of course, is counter-intuitive to the way the Harper government operates...they seek to create new reality, like faux lakes, when the real one is less than one kilometer from the site of the G-20 meetings, at a cost of $2million to Canadian taxpayers...Movie producers create new realities for their audience. The Canadian government is not and must not become another Hollywood movie production house, creating new realities for their own dramatic inflation of their own ego's.