Tories’ crime bill repeating ‘costly and ineffective U.S. prison policies’

Dear editor,

The most recent mailing from MP John Duncan's office was most disturbing.

Dear editor,

The most recent mailing from MP John Duncan’s office was most disturbing.

The cover featured a waif-looking child, with a caption questioning whether she should have a childhood.

At first sight it would seem that the  pamphlet  would be giving news of financial and social supports to give every child a reasonable chance to meet his/her potential.

However, on opening it I discovered a defence of the government’s proposed crime bill, which apparently will make this child safe from abuse. We need truth in government advertising, not propaganda.

In January 2011, Newt Gingrich (former speaker of the U.S House of Representatives) co-authored an op-ed piece in the Washington Post that urged prison reform.

The cost of prisons in the United States has risen 300 per cent in 25 years but recidivism sees inmates  returning to jail within two or three years of release. His conclusion was that the prison system was not working.

Can we not learn from these costly and ineffective U.S. prison policies? Studies show that most non-violent crime is best dealt with by restorative justice programs in the community. Young people who are active in their communities and receive a variety of supportive programs do not become criminals.

We often speak of the social determinants of health having more influence on wellness than health services. It is time we considered the social determinants of crime.

Assessing and rectifying these will make a civil and safe society far more likely than increased prison cells and a punitive justice system.

I hope the Government of Canada will take a leaf from Mr. Gingrich’s book and revise the present bill before the house.

Joy Johnston,

Comox