Saturday, April 16, 2011

Money for more Prisons

There is no question that our prisons are over crowed and need more funds. The question is how much more and how do we balance that need with the need for more funding for schools, hospitals and courts.

Headlines in the Surrey Now and the Surrey leader this week read: Delta school board faces $3.49M shortfall and No cash for courts. The first is self explanatory. The second is part of an editorial series called justice denied.

I am very skeptical of giving judges and lawyers more money. That could well be the beginning of the end of our society. Yet my point is, every public program wants more money. Logic dictates that we balance and prioritize those needs.

Prisons need more money as it stands. Changing legislation to put more prisoners in jail will cost more money. Some changes for violent crime are without question needed. Yet to what extreme we want to go is a valid question governing fiscal responsibility.

There is a new court decision in Ontario that some thinks paves the way for the legalization of pot. Not quite. The courts said that if people have prescriptions for medicinal marijuana, then they need to be able to fulfill those prescriptions.

I don't support the legalization of marijuana I support the decriminalization of marijuana and I think it's dangerous if not bizarre that we let courts tell us what kind of laws we can and cannot have in a democratic society. Smoking pot is not a charter right. If you have a prescription for medicinal marijuana that's different.

Anyways, my point remains that rightfully doing away with the 2 for 1 pretrial credit will cost us more money as will implementing mandatory minimum sentences for violent crime which is long over due. Mandatory minimum sentences for the possession of pot is too costly and problematic. Do we really want to close more schools and even courts to pay for more prisons for people who smoke pot? To me that is not being fiscally responsible.

Ignatieff argued against mandatory minimum sentences completely. He said they don't work in the United States so we should not copy and import that failed model in Canada. I'll admit I'm softening towards Ignatieff. I was very concerned about his position on torture but there are indeed more than one issue on the table.

I think his point that we shouldn't copy everything the Americans do because some of their systems don't work is valid. Kinda like Enron. Privatizing everything including our prisons and Energy has proven to be problematic and in Enron's case down right corrupt.

Yet I do think mandatory minimum sentences should exist for violent crime and for selling crack, meth or date rape drug. We also need mandatory minimum sentences for prolific offenders. The VPD is asking for 30 strikes and you're out illustrating how insane the current situation really is. The more property crime someone does the less time they spend in prison. Most describe it as a joke.

If a drug addict commits a prolific number of crimes to pay for their drug, they should have a mandatory three month sentence in prison with no access to drugs whatsoever and no statutory release. That would be in everyone's best interest including the offender.

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