A media biz friend of mine recently forwarded to me a news report on "the world's hottest criminal," Ms. Stephanie Beaudoin; a 21 year old nursing student in Quebec. Complete with a fetching photo of Ms. Beaudoin on a boat in a bikini, the story mentions that she's facing 114 criminal charges for breaking into more than 40 homes last summer.
I find it shocking that close to one in four inmates in the federal correctional system is an Aboriginal person. Yet Aboriginal people make up only four percent of our population. They are ten times more likely than anyone else to end up in jail. And that number is climbing. What does this say about our country? I appreciate the complexity of these issues, and the challenges of dealing with them. But denying the facts doesn't make them disappear. This is not the Canada I grew up in. The Canada I know and love. The Canada the world admires.
In recommendations released today, the UN Committee Against Torture slammed Canada's treatment of prisoners with mental health issues. Given that Canada is viewed by many as the "gold standard" in corrections, these findings are also an important reminder that serious problems remain within the Correctional Service of Canada.
According to former Ontario corrections minister Robert Sampson, mandatory minimum sentencing is a great tool for getting people the education and training they need to successfully reintegrate and contribute to society.