More prisons, more costs
Now that the Conservative government has finally decided to take a second look (translation – cancel) at the troubled F-35 fighter program we still have to absorb the financial drain of the new crime bill.
The cost of the new prisons will be borne, it seems, only by the provinces. The federal budget did not include any monies for new prisons even though the auditor general has raised many questions about the cost of following the American way of jailing.
Oh well, we all really, really wanted a raise in taxes to pay for the additional inmates who will now have mandatory long sentences. The cost per day per federal prisoner is a mere $259.05 per day, provincial fellows cost a mere $141.78. A female prisoner costs between $150,000 and $250,000 annually (all that in 2005 dollars).
I could stay at a very nice hotel at those rates. With room service.
In their urge to punish evildoers, the Harper government (don’t blame me, that’s what our PM has demanded his gang be called) has passed mandatory sentencing laws that will increase our prison populations dramatically. Like the F-35, the auditor general and others have sounded warnings, which the Conservatives have ignored. So down the primrose path we go, thank you Stephen.
Now don’t get me wrong. Yes, criminals do need to be punished. Rehabilitated if one can. But while heavy sentences for minor crimes may satisfy the puritan urge for retribution, social scientists and others – even judges from Texas – say we are just asking for trouble. Financial trouble, right here in beautiful B.C. and the rest of Canada.
It seems the Conservatives, while doing a good job following a Liberal foundation of regulations and sound management, have managed to get us through the recession only to punish us into the poorhouse.
I can’t help feeling that fundamentalism lies at the heart of this blunder. A strain of bible-belt religion runs through the Tories these days. They are going to do what is right (to them) and the devil take the consequences. Not as bad as the American Republicans yet but trying very hard to follow them it seems.
So the next time you are travelling and feel the pinch of a large motel bill remember that you are paying less than it costs to house a federal prisoner for one day. Try to remember that at the next federal election…