I am writing to you today because of questions I have relating to the crime reform package currently before Parliament.
First: Statistics Canada stated in July 2011 that the national crime rate is at its lowest level since 1973, and the Crime Severity Index is falling. In the context of other issues which are clearly becoming more prevalent, or where we are making few if any positive gains, such as homelessness or child poverty, why has the issue of “crime reform” taken centre stage as a funding priority?
Second: Based on the practical experience of similiar laws in the US, we know that this type of change and funding investment is unlikely (at best) to actually make the streets safer. In fact, Texas legislators recently advised Canada to rethink this crime reform strategy. The billions of taxpayer dollars that will be invested in jails and services to support this unproven strategy could instead be used to provide targeted funding towards strategies that we know demonstrate positive impact on community safety and crime reduction (such as increasing services for the mentally ill, rehabilitation programs in jails, reinstating the defunct national housing program and dealing with the growing problem of child poverty). Can you identify how we are investing substantively in the areas which are actually documented to decrease the crime rate?
Third: To date, it has been difficult to understand what the real cost will be in implementing this crime reform package, and this is of particular concern given that spending on corrections has increased by 86% since the Conservatives came to power. Are you able to identify the estimated and real costs of the investments required in implementing this crime reform package? Are you able to provide an analysis of the expected return on investment?
“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” Martin Luther King Jr.