Saturday, September 24, 2011
Stephen Harper and the Prison State
I always knew that Stephen Harper would eventually turn this country into a prison state, as sinister as the man himself.
I always knew that his American-style plan to jail even more Canadians flew in the face of reason.
“We’re not governing on the basis of the latest statistics,” federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said this week. “We’re governing on the basis of what’s right to better protect victims and law-abiding Canadians.”
Think about that statement. Statistics are facts compiled by people who are expert in compiling them, such as those who work for Statistics Canada. And the facts are clear: Crime rates are going down.
Yet, in the face of this factual/statistical evidence, the Harper government acts as if crime is going up.
But if all that is deeply disturbing and incredibly scary, this is simply madness.
“This is, to my knowledge, the largest expansion since the 1930s,” said Matthew Yeager, a penology expert and criminology professor at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont. “This huge building campaign represents the Americanization of Canadian corrections.”
“Any time you spend billions of dollars to build American-style fortresses, you are making a statement about where you think we should be spending our correctional dollars,” Prof. Yeager said. “We’re putting all our marbles in the American model.”
An American model that has failed so catastrophically, state governments all over the U.S. are desperately trying to undo the damage caused by draconian sentencing policies.
They don't work, they turn prisons into schools for criminals, they brutalize societies, and they bankrupt governments.
So why is Stephen Harper doing it? Part of the reason is, as Simpson says, the need to satisfy his rabid bloodthirsty base. Another reason I believe is because he just can't help being vindictive. It's in his genes.
But I also can't help noting that the last time we built so many prisons was during the Dirty Thirties, when misery gripped the land, poor people suffered without a safety net, and revolution was in the air.
Stephen Harper knows that his reactionary teabagger policies will produce the same result, so if he can't find the invisible criminals, he will fill his jails with trade unionists or demonstrators. And if provinces are forced to choose between funding prisons or medicare so much the better.
Because this isn't a plan to fight crime, it's a plan to dismantle Canada and turn it into Amerika.
This is truly frightening.
Even scarier is Mr. Nicholson’s assurance that “this is not the end; this is just the beginning of our efforts.” He promises that “we’ll introduce other legislation as well.”
And the message couldn't be clearer. Unless we put our petty partisanship aside, unless we unite, organize, and take our struggle to the streets by the THOUSANDS.
We will wake up one day, in a jail cell, in a country we don't recognize...