August 10 is International Prisoner's Justice Day, which began in Canada 37 years ago. In 1974 a Canadian man, Edward Nalon, died in the segregation unit of an Ontario prison, resulting in a day of mourning for prisoners across the country. This is an important day to consider how we treat people behind bars, and to remember the goals of incarceration. It is also a day for us to ask many questions about our prison system as a whole, and to assess how some of the recent actions of the Canadian government may affect these conditions
Canada has always been recognized as being one of the safest countries in the world, boasting exceptionally low murder and violent crime rates, particularly in comparison to our American counterparts. However, a recent rise in gun violence on the streets of Canada's largest city has left many Canadians concerned about how safe our communities truly are. This violence has left many Canadians wondering whether we should advance tough-on-crime agendas. But having worked with many vulnerable populations I firmly believe that our time and resources would be better spent in addressing the issue of youth violence by investing in long-term preventative solutions and programs.
After Statistics Canada reported that police-reported crime was at its lowest level in 40 years, Vic Toews tweeted "Crime rate down 6% -- shows CPC tough on crime is working." I couldn't really understand how Bill C-10, which doesn't even begin to come into force until August 9 of this year, could somehow be responsible for a drop in crime in previous years. But then I realized...Toews must be the MP version of The Terminator: "A human-looking, apparently unstoppable cyborg (or in this case, Public Safety Minister) is sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor (or in this case, crime)."
For those of us who understand exactly where Conrad Black has been (the big house) we understand. He is, at the end of the day, just a human being, the frailty of ones existence always hanging in the balance no matter how high up the ladder one finds oneself. And now an 11 person advisory council is considering revoking his Order of Canada?
Time for prisoners to start paying their own way, says the Minister for Public Safety, Vic Toews. This will invariably lead to the reduction of community corrections programs that have been shown to best promote successful rehabilitation and reintegration. What if instead of trying to break the cycle of poverty-to-prison-to-poverty, we actively embraced it?