A survey seeking those who are 18 years, and older, to answer a survey about sexual victimization they have experienced. The survey is also seeking male participants. See the link below. This is 100% anonymous.
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?
Welcome to Alberta, where you are presumed guilty until found innocent. Where police, and prosecutors can decide your sentence via the charge they will administer. Yup, starting July 1, 2012 you will be found guilty during a road side breathalyser test, by an Alberta law enforcement agent, if you blow over .05. criminal charges placed when you blow .08 and above. Meaning, you will be guilty, until proven innocent. No longer will the onus be on the prosecutor to prove you are guilty. The onus will be on you to prove you are innocent (good luck with that).
Personally, I don’t drink and drive period. Even if I have one, this is because I know my body can’t handle it and although my blood alcohol level might only be .02 I am still in no condition to drive. So the law makes no difference to me personally. I am also all for getting drunk drivers off our streets. However, in this country the last time I checked people are innocent until proven guilty, at least in a court of law- in the court of media this is a different story. However, under this new law brought forth in Alberta you are guilty until proven innocent. That is, the police, and RCMP, can immediately take away your driver’s license, and impound your vehicle. Not just for a set amount of time but until the charges have been cleared up! In other words, the police officer is judge, and jury. This means that you will be without a car until your case is cleared in court. Anyone who knows anything about our justice system should have alarm bells going off here. What happens if a person needs their vehicle for work? Without it they loose their job based on an alleged DUI- that could take the courts over a year to prove. In fact, 12-18 months is the average. Alternatively what if the person is found innocent in a court of law after all. We have now taken their vehicle away, cost them their job (and probably other jobs in the same field), based on guilty until proven innocent. This doesn’t sit right with me.
The government say that they are not targeting those who have the occasional drink with dinner. But given the stiffer penalties for a blood alcohol level of .05-.07 (which btw is not illegal) social drinkers could be targeted. And given that breathalyser have continuously been under scrutiny in regards to reliability, I would be concerned about having a glass of wine and getting behind the wheel. Breathalysers are not a perfect science, they are still technology. Errors with the technology could occur under any of the following circumstances:
- The skill and experience of the tester (in other words new police officers that aren’t familiar with the technology)
- Quality of the equipment used (is it old? Properly kept?)
- Were you exposed to paint fumes, or gasoline? This could cause false blood readings (at least according to the US supreme court)
- The temperature the equipment is kept at (think Calgary, mid December, equipment thrown into the back of police vehicles for 12 hour shifts)
- Calibration of machine
- Recent consumption of alcohol. False readings have been known to occur if someone has drank alcohol within a 15 minute period and then been breathalysed.
In other words erros may be magnified if police do not follow proper procedures, such as calibrating the machine correctly, testing, and environmental factors.
Some have argued that since BC brought in similar laws to this one, a year ago, that drunk driving has decreased 40% (in other words the deterrent is working). Unfortunately, this stat doesn’t take into account that drunk driving has steadily been decreasing in the last decade due to alternative attitudes to drinking. It also doesn’t take into account that this is one of those things you can measure in a year. To see if this law has a real effect they must do a longitudinal study on the data.
Seems to me that other things could be done to catch more drunk drivers. For example, more check stops. I know people that haven’t been through check stops in Calgary in 10+ years. These types of programs are underfunded. Personally, I have been through check stops and the police only, in my experience, mostly just pull over those who appear to be under 30. Because you know, those over 30 never drink and drive. Not to mention check stops are seasonal. They are mainly present between mid Nov-Mid January, and again July-Aug. The rest of the year you never see them, and you definitely don’t hear about them. Maybe let’s fund these programs instead of spending more money on more useless legislation. But alas, useless legislation that violates rights seems to be the Canadian way lately.
Here are some details on the law:
Starting July 1, 2012
Starting September 1, 2012
Starting July 1, 2012
**It is important to know you are entitled to a second test on another device at the scene. And you can also request to be taken to the station to receive a more accurate test**
This law comes into effect July 1, 2012.
Other links to check out
Update: April 26 3:11 pm: PM Harper has told CBC new that he will not be supporting this motion brought forth to reopen the debate on when life begins. He says that he can’t stop the motion from being tabled, but that he will not be voting in favour of it. According to CBC this will go up for vote either in June, or September. Let your MP know that it is unacceptable for them to be making decisions about your reproductive system! Thursday April 26 9:00 am: The Liberal party of Canada has started a petition to tell the Harper government to keep their hands off our reproductive rights. __________ According to CBC a motion has been put forth by a conservative MP, Stephen Woodworth, wanting to reopen the debate on when life begins. Despite Harper saying numerous times that his government would not reopen the debate. The government is allowing this one hour of debate in the house of commons tomorrow then it will head to the bottom of the pile. Once they come back around it will be allowed another hour of debate. This is a slippery slope to say the least. Right now the US is in a contraceptive debate of its own. The personhood movement has been strong in the US prompting huge political figures to back motions that would not only make abortions illegal, but also make some birth control illegal. Now personhood has a Canadian counterpart found here . This is some scary stuff. Every time I turn around, some old white guy is trying to legislate my body. Some MPs are saying they want to consult their constituents before doing anything. Others are calling for all parties to allow for free “conscience” votes. So I urge everyone to contact your MPs and stand up for a woman’s reproductive rights. MP Jason Kenney was among those that told CBC he would be consulting his constituents today. Well Mr. Kenney I am one of those, and I urge you to do what your government said it would and not reopen this. My reproductive system is my own. A woman’s body is her own. And frankly I believe that people need to make their own moral choices, and the government needs to stay out of it. If this government is true to its word it will shut this down. “we will not be reopening this debate”- PM Harper This is one debate I’m going to be watching closely. I just can’t help but wonder why it is that old white men keep trying to get all up in my reproductive system.
Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything else to title this blog post. The public safety minister, Vic Toews, might actually be a moron. Today the minister announced that Kingston prison will be closing. As someone who is familiar with the justice system, the announcement to close Kingston comes as no surprise to me. Towes was quotes as telling the media:
Institutions built in the 19th century are not appropriate for managing a 21st century inmate population,The time has come to recognize its crumbling infrastructure, costly upkeep and severe limitations in effectively managing a population of maximum security male offenders, and in the case of Leclerc Institution, medium-security offenders.
This should be of no surprise to Canadians either as Kingston was constructed in 1833-1834. I could get into the back and forth about whether or not the open prison concept is good or bad for corrections. The crumbling infrastructure in Kingston, the dangerous area’s that exist, or the potential for violence etc. This is an on going debate in criminology, as well as between correctional workers. What I want to talk about is the next arguement Toews made for closing this facility:
Despite tough new law-and-order legislation many thought would result in a spike in the prison population, Toews argued the projected increase never materialized.
Toews is not referring to the Safer Streets and Communities Act (AKA- Bill C-10, Omnibus Crime Bill) he is refering to the increase that was expected with the “The Truth In Sentencing Act”. If you are unfamilar with this one, it passed last year and took away the two days for every day served in remand. Meaning that those people who could not get bail would no longer
receive time off their potential sentence for awaiting trial in a remand centre. Basically what Toews is arguing here is that everyone was wrong about the prison population increasing because it hasn’t happened yet due to legislation that was passed less then one year ago? In addition to this Tows took to Twitter to discuss it some more tweeting:
Opposition claims $19 billion price tags for new prisons. In reality we are saving $120 millions by closing needless prisons” and “we aren’t creating new prisoners- just closing revolving door of the legal system
I have several problems with these claims. First, you can’t say that new legislation is not increasing your prison population one year after you introduce it. Why you ask? The answer really is a simple one. Because the justice system doesn’t work that way. Justice is slow and there is no way we have prosecuted enough people under the Truth in Sentencing Act to truly measure the effects it will have on our prison population. Second, it is not just one policy that the problem lays with. It is the combination of new policy that is the problem. In particular is the minimum mandatory sentencing legislation. That only passed the senate on March 12 of this year. There is no way that we will see the effects of all this new legislation for at least 5 years.
To know that these policies will have dire unintended consequences all we have to do is look at the sorry state of the American justice system. California has been ordered by the US supreme court to release 30,000 prisoners, they are on the verge of bankruptsy, and they are currently trying to pass legislation that will ease up on certain drug laws (such as possession of cannabis). Meanwhile in Texas they are closing down prisons, and introducing new rehabilitative approaches to crime in order to curb their own problems that emerged as a result of the same types of legislation. Texas has also come out to warn Canada against Bills such as C-10 warning that it will only cost billions, and won’t do a thing to deter, or reduce crime.
With the introduction of all the minimum mandatory sentences in Bill C-10 that will bring Canada from 29 MMS’s to over 60. You can’t introduce such legislation and not expect a spike in your prison population, and a back log of court cases in your justice system.
A new report just released by the University of Toronto encourages the cities to consider building safe injection sites similar to the one currently operating in Vancouver. Advocates for safe injection sites argue that they save lives, reduce sharing of needles and other equipment, prevent the spread of diseases such as HIV, produces reduction in public injecting, neighbourhood litter (of needles), provides a safe disposal for needles, and that they increase access to treatment for people who are marginalized. Critics argue that the sites encourage drug use, and that the money spent on such facilities would be better used for drug treatment centres.
These arguments critics come up with are a common misconception about the safe injection sites in Canada. They are not simply places for people to go so they can just shoot up. Before they are allowed to shoot up they must speak to nurses, and health care professionals about the potential risks of the drugs they are using, they must address their mental health issues with a counsellor, and they receive information on drug rehab centres in their areas.
There were six reccomendations provided in the report about establishing these safe injection sites:
- Both Toronto and Ottawa would Benefit from Implementation of Supervised Injection Facilities.
- The Optimal Model for a Supervised Injection Facility is a Fixed Facility that is Integratedwithin an Existing Organization
- A Strong Evaluation Plan is anEssential Component of anyImplementation Plan.
- There is Insufficiency Evidence toSupport a Recommendation toImplement a Supervised Smoking Facility
- A Supervised Injection Facilityshould have Clearly Established Rules.
- The Process to Establisha Supervised InjectionFacility Should be Part of aComprehensive Drug Strategy
All of this said, it will be much harder to set up such a site in Toronto, and Ottawa. In Vancouver drug use is pretty much contained to the east side and as such the centre went up on the east side. However, in Toronto and Ottawa drug use is spread out and not as contained therefore advocates will undoubtedly run into the NIMBY issue (not in my back yard), and even possibly the NOTE issue (Not Over There Either). This is because people are not going to want these safe injection sites anywhere near their neighbourhoods, or anywhere they might possibly go in the vicinity of one day.
Personally I think the push back to the safe injection sites shows the ignorance of some people. We’ve stigmatized drug use, and labelled the user as a criminal and therefore we, as a society, would be perfectly OK if they OD’d in a ditch, or back alley somewhere. But god forbid we set up a facility where they could go to safely get their fix, and possibly get into the appropriate drug rehab program.
Besides, I think it is pretty clear the war on drugs is an epic failure. If we can somehow contain the situation, reduce the risk of spreading disease, and help some addicts in the process why wouldn’t we have these sites? I mean you people do realize that alcohol is legal and causes just as many problems as drugs… right? And in regards to cannabis, I would argue that the consequences we see from alcohol is worse.
Think about this: a 2002 study, cited in the Safer Streets and Community Act (more commonly known as the omnibus bill, or Bill C-10) stated that substance abuse cost Canadians $39.8 billion. Tobacco accounted for $17 billion (42.7%), alcohol accounted for $14 billion (36.6%), illegal drugs for $8 billion (20.7%), health care costs amounted to $8.8 billion (22.1%), and the cost of law enforcement to deal with this was $5 billion (13.6%). So, illegal drugs cause half as many issues as Tobacco, and almost half as many issues as alcohol? Even if we legalized drugs, and had a 50% increase in drug related costs it would still be less then the amount of money tobacco costs us yearly? Interesting.
I encourage everyone to start doing some research on this issue before screaming about safe havens for ‘criminals’.
AB Law Enforcement, and Other Emergency Workers, Should be Partially Subject to Distracted Driving Laws
So, since this distracted driving law came into effect in Alberta I have been watching emergency workers. What I have noticed is that police still use their cell phones frequently while on the road. Yes, I am aware that under the new Alberta law emergency personal have an exemption. Last Aug Calgary’s chief of police told media in Calgary that police officers are exempt because they use the equipment for work and have advanced driver training. While, as of yesterday I would tend to agree with the chief today I have decided that this is a weak argument.
I was sitting in a study room exchanging stories with other students about the dumbass things we see people do behind the wheel, you know it seemed more fun then studying. One of the girls made a comment about how she doesn’t understand why emergency personal are not exempt from the law. After a bit of conversation one of the women, who’s husband happens to be a police officer, stated (to my surprise) that it is a bunch of crap that they are not exempt and there is no reason why police officers, and other emergency personal can’t use blue tooth in their vehicles.
I think she may be onto something here. I understand that police need to be able to dial their phones, even when they are behind the wheel (if they are not on duty with a partner). But I am curious why law enforcement officials, who claim that texting, or talking while driving is extremely dangerous, are not utilizing the technology available to them to keep their workers from being distracted, and by extension keep us all, and our roads, safer.
What does everyone else think? Should cities, the government, and policing organizations do everything possible to ensure our emergency workers are going hands free?