Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace


Posted by strattof on May 19, 2008


                                                       PRISONS ARE NOT THE ANSWER

                                     SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE TOUGH ON CRIME BILL


Last week, on February 27 2008, the Canadian Senate passed into law the government’s tough on crime bill, officially known as Bill C-2, The Tackling Violent Crime Act. This law introduces higher mandatory jail terms and tougher bail provisions. It means more Canadians will spend more time in prison.


·         Imprisonment is a very expensive means of dealing with offences. It costs anywhere from  $50,000 (using the most conservative estimates) to $350,000 per year to keep a person in prison in Canada. Currently, there are about 32,100 prisoners in Canada.


·         Imprisonment is a very ineffective means of addressing social problems. Funding incarceration means that resources are cut from social services, education, health care, and job creation programs. If even half of the $7 billion currently spent annually on imprisoning people was invested in social spending, there would be an enormous benefit to whole communities. 


·         There is very little in the way of rehabilitation services in Canadian prisons. Skill training is at a minimum. According to CBC ‘s The Current, “Prisoners applying for parole are finding it impossible to qualify because they cannot get into the programs they are required to complete in order to earn parole.” Access to computers is limited, making it difficult for prisoners to take correspondence programs. The libraries at both the Regina and Saskatoon Correctional Centres are closed due to over-crowding and under-funding.


·         Some prisoners suffer from a substance abuse disorder. In many cases, their substance use contributed to committing the crime that resulted in their incarceration. Yet there are very few drug rehabilitation programs in Canadian prisons.


·         Over the last decade, the number of mentally ill prisoners has more than doubled in Canadian prisons, yet the level of mental health services has remained the same or diminished.


·         The Canadian justice system is an ineffective, alien, and inappropriate system for the resolution of conflict in Aboriginal communities. The legacies of colonization and residential schooling have resulted in cultural discontinuity and oppression in Aboriginal communities that have been tied to high rates of depression, alcoholism, suicide, and violence. In a Saskatchewan study, treatment centre staff ranked lost cultural identity as the single most important factor for drug and alcohol abuse among Aboriginal people. Incarceration does not address or solve these problems.


·         The prison readmission rate in Sasktachewan is 45% within 4 years.


·         Poor people are more likely to be convicted and to spend more time in prison than more well-to-do people who can afford legal representation. The disproportionate arrest and conviction rate of minorities is a reflection of the racism in our society.


“Prisons do not make us safe, but instead reinforce conditions that produce violence and insecurity.” Julia Sudbury, Canadian Roundtable on Prison Abolition


Sources:,,, CBC, Globe and Mail, Statistics Canada



In support of prisoners, a Regina group has started a Books Through Bars program. The program sends books to institutions throughout Saskatchewan. For information on how to donate books or to get involved, please e-mail or call 337-2420. 

For information on a Social Justice Conference being held on March 15, visit




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