January 29, 2015 - 12:00 am
In recent years, the government has implicitly – and often explicitly – suggested that increasing the use of imprisonment is an effective method of addressing crime in this country. This view of the relationship of crime rates to punishment rates is a break from Canada’s past. Previous governments – both Liberal and Conservative – have been much more pessimistic (and realistic) about the beneficial effects of imprisonment. In addition, I would suggest that the manner in which the current government views offenders constitutes a break with the past. Previous governments have tended to develop policies based on a simple reality: most people who have committed offences are, or will soon be, living amongst us. Hence the reintegration of offenders was seen as an important priority. These – and other changes in the manner in which the current government sees crime and punishment – provide a framework for understanding recent changes in the criminal law.
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