Monday, January 18, 2010

Incarceration on the rise in Canada

Though crime rates in Canada have been dropping steadily, incarceration rates have been on the rise since 2004. According to Statistics Canada’s 2008/2009 report, 117 of every 100, 000 Canadians were in custody.

With the cost of living for an inmate reaching anywhere from $160 to $255 per day, long-term sentences cost the country lots of money. Money that Toronto Star journalist Jim Rankin thinks would be better spent in youth programs for at-risk communities. Rankin created a website that documents the history of crime in Canada and the social state of high-crime neighbourhoods.

Prime Minister Harper’s “tough-on-crime” stance favours severe sentences, which lead to higher incarceration rates, and an economy that is increasingly reliant on the prison system. Places like Michigan are already experiencing the downfall of prison economies, yet Canada continues to head in that direction.

The Canadian government is ignoring the fact that locking up petty criminals does not serve as a deterrent for crime. Social studies show that the best way to prevent crime is through educational and social programs for young people in high-crime communities - programs with sustainable funding that is not being diverted to the jail system.

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