Monday, 26 October 2009

Picking another Nit

The federal government said Monday it will introduce legislation to crack down on early parole for non-violent offenders, a move it says will augment proposed tougher sentences for white-collar criminals.

I can spot the contradiction in that article, can you spot the contradiction?

[Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan] said under the current laws, criminals such as fraudsters and drug dealers are routinely granted [early] parole [after serving just one-sixth of their sentences and full parole after serving one-third of their sentences] , unless the parole board believes the parolees might commit violent crimes.

Van Loan proposes changes that will require criminals to demonstrate they have earned their parole.

Question: Isn't that the fucking point for having a parole board? Parole isn't automatic, you have to earn it. "Show remorse" and "display good behaviour" are the terms that immediately come to mind.

Quick aside: This issue isn't limited to our brand of conservatives.....

If longer sentences keep people safer, I want to see the studies that prove that. This study will probably be cited by conservatives as proof of their view, but the details are not what they seem:

The remainder of each prisoner's sentence was suspended, but not forgiven. The law stipulated that a former inmate who commits a new crime within five years will have the suspended portion of his sentence reinstated and added to the sentence for the new crime. As a result, a repeat offender can expect extra jail time equal to the suspended portion of his sentence—anywhere from one month to three years.

In short, if you do release them early, threaten to reimpose the sentence and add it to any sentence applied if the released prisoner commits another crime. It does not support keeping them in jail longer. If anything, it argues the opposite. Give them the carrot of early release, and keep them in line with the stick of a longer sentence if they recommit.

And then there's the Government of Canada's own study:

Fifty studies that examined the effect of imprisonment and longer sentences on recidivism were analysed.
The 50 studies involved over 300,000 offenders. None of the analyses found imprisonment to reduce recidivism. The recidivism rate for offenders who were imprisoned as opposed to given a
community sanction were similar. In addition, longer prison sentences were not associated with reduced recidivism. In fact, the opposite was found. Longer sentences were associated with a 3% increase in recidivism.

Another common argument: if they're in prison, they can't commit crimes. True enough, but then the logical conclusion is all sentences should be life imprisonment. Since that is practically impossible, all sentences should therefore be the death penalty. You can't recommit if you're dead, and we don't have to pay to keep you in prison for up to 70 years either. Steal a bag of nachos from a corner store, Bang! We shoot you in return.

There's a fine line between protecting the public, punishing the offender and rehabilitating the offender. Approaching the complex issue of criminal behaviour with ideological blinders on is more damaging to society long term. Making prisoners angry by denying them parole doesn't make me feel safe.

1 comment:

ADHR said...

Well said, but it's the Conservative party. What did you expect? "Tough on crime" BS is red meat to their base.