Saturday, December 29, 2012

Crime and Punishment Canadian style

Sometimes you find out stuff from the strangest places.

I was reading an OHS Canada magazine article where they were discussing the increase of inmate and inmate on corrections officer violence. In it they mentioned that double bunking is an indication of overcrowding and increases inmate on inmate violence. That's when I realized my view of prison is very coloured by movies in spite of actually seeing holding cells in my youth. I had to pick my brother up from the cop shop when he was picked up, almost passed out in his vomit, by the police. I saw 2 small cells with one bunk in each. There may have been more cells but I'm sure nothing like the empty cage you see in the movies.

I'm not for omnibus bills but I am for the changes these bills will bring. We need more prison space in Canada. Not because there are so many more criminals - crime is trending downward - but because we've closed a lot of prisons and many remaining ones are aging. People, perhaps criminals more so, need their own space where they don't have to interact directly with others. We also need to stop sending people to prison unnecessarily (which should be an effect of the bill passing). If we can deter people from getting in too deep before they become entrenched, it's worth a try to me; especially youths/young adults.

People are happy to think (if they think at all) criminals become law abiding citizens if they are just thrown in jail as often as necessary, or just leave them there to rot. But that is not the role of the justice system in Canada. After punishment, people have to be re-integrated into society. I don't want jail to be a form of social assistance for the violent or asocial.