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
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’.
Remember back in September when I talked about this story on the legalization of prostitution debate going on in Canada? If not the gist was that sex trade workers argued last year that the laws, as they stand now, prevent them from working in doors or in their homes, and prevent them from properly screening clients before they leave with them. Possibly putting them in danger. In June of this year a 5 panel committee of judges heard the case as the federal government appealed the September 2010 ruling focusing heavily on the safety concerns sex workers had regarding the laws in place in Canada. The panel grilled the government lawyers on the issue of safety. The judges on the panel challenged the government lawyer, Michael Morris, telling him that they find it “hard to understand why it is not self evident that these provisions harm the ability to carry out prostitution safely.”On June 17, 2011 the panel ordered a stay on the provinces laws surrounding prostitution stating: “”The stay will remain in effect until we say something different.” A ruling from the supreme court is not expected until this fall.
After weeks of presenting arguments, back in June, by both sides the appeal court announced their decision at 11 am local time. So what did the courts decide? According to CBC news the court agreed with the majority of Himel’s rulings last year. This comes as no surprise given the line of questioning the government lawyer faced. First, that provisions prohibiting common bawdy houses are unconstitutional in the form they are currently in. Second, they also found that not allowing people to live off the avails of prostitution was also unconstitutional. However, they found that communication for the purposes of prostitution law is not in violation of women’s rights.
However, the judges also ruled that living off the avails of prostitution law will remain in effect for the next 30 days, and that the bawdy house laws will remain in effect for the next 12 months allowing the government of Canada to draft appropriate legislation.
This decision from the appeals court in Ontario will have an interesting effect on laws across Canada. I suspect that other provincial laws will start to be called into question in regards to sex work. Paving the way for a re-structuring of the laws in Canada. I can’t wait to see how the Harper government will handle this one!
Before posting some important information for women in the city of Calgary. I just wanted to say that I hope to be back to regular posts again soon. Had some unexpected health issues arise in December and am just finally starting to Catch up with school.
In the mean time please check out this news story I found on CBC.ca… buried on CBC.ca. Police suspect the above individual of being responsible for 5 sexual assaults in the SW area of Calgary. The description given to police was: white, 45- to 50-years-old, clean-shaven, tanned and had shoulder-length dark-grey hair. He had a thin build.He was wearing a dark jacket, blue sweat pants and black toque.
So I keep sitting down to write this blog post, and every single time I just delete it, and sigh to myself as I realize that it would make no difference anyway. The bottom line is that the conservatives are going to do what the conservatives want to do, and they really don’t care what kind of consequences their actions could have, or what the Canadian people think of what they are doing.
But then I saw this article on the CBC website a few days ago (and have seen that since 3 other provinces have spoken out) and I thought maybe, just maybe there is a point to speaking out. So for those of you who have been living under a rock let me give you a run down of this new omnibus crime bill tabled by the Harper government (also know as the Safer Streets and Communities Act). There are roughly 9 key changes this bill would bring:
- The Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act
- The Increasing Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act
- Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders Act
- The Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes by Serious and Violent Offenders Act
- The Increasing Offender Accountability Act
- The Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act
- The International Transfer of Canadian Offenders Back to Canada Act
- The Supporting Victims of Terrorism Act
- Protecting Vulnerable Foreign Nationals against Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation Act
To know that this bill is scary all we need to do is look to our neighbours to the south of us. States are coming close to bankruptcy, California has introduced a policy to release a tone of their non violent offenders. People are currently sitting in jail in Califorina, who has the toughest 3 strikes legislation to date, whose third strike was stealing a doughnut. Others, are sitting in prison for life with no history of violent crime. But they broke the law three times, and can no longer be trusted in society. Not surprisingly so, most of these people are non-white, or of lower socio economic status, but that’s a whole other post.
The federal government says that this bill will cost Canadian tax payers 78.6 Million dollars over the next 5 years. This is of course just their federal costs and doesn’t include the costs to the provinces or the 2 billion it will cost to build and operate new federal prisons to handle the increase in the population. It is also only an estimate and depends on how many people end up in jail due to the new laws. In other words its a shot in the dark, and criminologists argue a low estimate.
In Canada we do not have the 3 strikes law as in the USA but this type of crime bill that the conservative government is introducing is going to drastically increase our prison population, with the same results. Just by eliminating the 2 for 1 credit we will increase the population by 4000 inmate you add mandatory minimum sentencing into this mixture and you have a much larger prison population that needs to be housed and taken care of. Several provinces have come out against this bill and have demanded that the government help pay for it, or rethink the bill (Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland, and Labrador) while others have expressed concern about money (BC and MB).
BC is particularly worried about this as they already face overcrowding in their jails and have had to let people go free due to a backlog in the courts. This could be a reality across Canada. Currently the justice system is already crunched. There aren’t any crown prosecutors being hired, and support staff has also been cut, and budget freezes is what most departments are facing. Currently our justice system handles 90% of cases either by dropping charges, or through plea negotiations. Only about 10% of cases actually go to trial. Well with people facing mandatory minimum sentences do you think that they will take a plea negotiation? Probably not. You are going to see an increase in people invoking their right to trial and yet the justice system doesn’t have the infrastructure right now to handle it. What will happen when the demand goes even higher?
When it comes right down to it these laws are bad for policing, and ultimately bad for our criminal justice system. You might now be sitting there wondering how it could possibly be bad for policing. It’s bad for a number of reasons. The main is man power. Police will be expected to enforce such new laws but budgets will not be increased to actually cope with such needs (similar to why you won’t see cops jumping out at you to catch you texting at a Red light) they won’t have the tools they need to actually do their jobs, and we’ll be spreading them even thinner then they already are.
Another thing that is rather odd in this bill is the proposed changed for youth crime. For starters they propose that youth 14 years or older should have stiffer penalties for their crimes. But the laws that already exist around this issue are enough as they already allow for crown prosecutors to apply to move these violent youth to adult court, and then if the judge finds it appropriate they move them to adult court and can face up to life in prison for their crimes. The other thing that the Harper government wants to do is allow for the publication of youth names for violent offenses. But, the current laws already allow for this. Any youth who is convicted of an adult sentence can have their name published, an youth 14-17 who is convicted of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, aggravated sexual assault, is a repeat violent offender, or if the youth is at large and a judge feels they are a danger to themselves or others. So if these laws are already in place what is the big deal? The big deal is that it makes the government look incompetent. These laws already exist why are they making new ones? We have sufficient laws already in place to deal with these crimes the government is so worried about.
We are seeing all these problems in the USA right now. Backlogs, people being released, court systems being tied up, states on the verge of bankruptsy. California has started to release prisoners because they can not house them all, and people who are being sentenced to prison are having their sentences cut. For example, Lindsey Lohen was sentenced to serve 60 days but only served 5 hours and was released due to space. This doesn’t deter her, nor does it allow for rehabilitation programs to work for her. The message that was sent to Lindsey last weekend was, we know you didn’t do your community service and that was wrong, but we can’t actually put you in jail either because we have no room. So therefore in your case there are just no consequences do whatever you want. There is also already talk today about Dr. Murray (who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the Michael Jackson murder trial). He may not serve as much time as he will be sentenced to. Why? Again, because there is no room in California jails. All these issues California has because of three strikes laws, and mandatory minimum sentences is just foreshadowing the types of problems Canada could face.
I am not saying the entire bill is bad. There are some good points. For example the increased sentences for child molesters. But it seems like the government is using that part of the bill to cover up their political agenda (the war on drugs). It just doesn’t make sense to me. If this bill is supposed to be about making the streets safer, and helping victims get justice why is it that someone who is caught with pot plants face a harsher penalty then the child rapist. I just don’t understand.
The fact is that crime is at it’s lowest level since 1966. Crime in
Canada is not on the rise. This bill is not going to make our streets safer, it isn’t that great for victims, and it’s going to cost us all a lot of money. Or as the Huffington Post put it “The last time Canada’s crime rates were as low as Statistics Canada says they are now, The Sting and American Graffiti played at the movies; Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon ruled the airwaves, and M*A*S*H was tops on TV”