According to Metro the conservatives are planning on cutting youth rehabilitation programs by 20% starting in April of 2013. I can’t say that I am surprised given this government’s previous passed, and planned legislation in regards to criminal justice. This year when the federal budget came out the justice department was told it needed to find and slash $60 million in next years budget. By reducing spending on the youth of this country they will save $36 million (or over half of what they were told to save). If we have to cut $60 million from our justice department, why not cut it from youth? It’s not like youth are still easily influenced, and can still be fixed. Oh wait…
So, as my picture to the right suggests I am going to tell you why this is a load of bullshit. The first reasons is simply science. Youth’s brains are still developing, and therefore they can be shaped, moulded, and helped. In other words: youth are not a lost cause unless you make them so. The federal government currently has three components: a main fund, drugs, and gangs/violence. According to the metro last year:
It spent money on measures to target violent young offenders, to rehabilitate and reintegrate youth in trouble with the law, to deal with less serious types of offences outside the formal court process. It also funded pilot projects, helped train justice professionals and youth service providers and paid for research on the youth justice system.
As I already said youth are still developing. At 27 I am not the same person I was at 16, or 12. My values and beliefs have drastically changed. I came into my own person as a result of a variety of variables. Both environmental, and biological. The nature versus nurture debate if you will. If you have a youth that has got caught up in drugs, or gangs this doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be, or will be their future. It makes more sense to target these problems by rehabilitating, and reintegrating youth into our society, rather then take the write off approach.
So, logically speaking, this means if these types of rehabilitation programs are scrapped, cut, or poorly funded these kids will either end up in jail, or they will simply not get the help they need, due to poorly funded programs. With an end result of ultimately ending up exactly where they started. This leads me to the second reason: money. In the grand scheme of things it will cost us Canadians less to rehabilitate a youth offender than it would if the youth offender ended up getting stuck in the revolving door of Canadian prisons. Actually, it would cost us less even if the youth offender only ended up in prison for a couple years out of their whole life. about $140,000 less. It would only cost us around $10,000 a year/youth to run these programs. However, it would cost us somewhere around $150,000 a year to house them in prison. If they can be kept out of prison, and shaped into a productive member of society why the hell would I want to spend the money it would cost to keep them in prison? It just doesn’t make any sense. Hmmm let us think about this. Rehabilitate the youth who could potentially be a doctor, lawyer, trades person, vet, or any number of things, or stick them in prison and run the risk of creating a career criminal. I don’t know about you, but this seems like a no brainer to me.
Logically the place to save money would be to not have to build, and staff more prisons for faulty minimum mandatory legislation that will cost us billions of dollars while doing nothing to deter crime. Similar laws in the United States has left the state of California facing, the release of thousands of prisoners, turning away those who have been sentenced (sending the message that they can do whatever they want *cough* Lindsey Lohan *cough*) and facing bankruptcy. If the Harper government thinks Canada is immune to these problems they are more naive then I previously thought.
Once again, the government is making drastic changes to our criminal justice system without consulting any experts, and blatantly disregarding statistics, and that thing we like to call math. If anything the government should be increasing dollars to rehabilitation programs, especially when it comes to the youth of this country, and cutting their spending on useless laws that won’t actually succeed in doing what they want it to do. Despite what this government would like you to believe, they are the definition of epic fail when it comes to crime policy. When is the next election again?