Dear Minister Vic Toews,
In yesterday’s Halifax Chronicle-Herald there was reference to government plans to spend $40 million to increase capacity at the prison in Springhill, Nova Scotia. This was announced in a news release by Peter MacKay on your behalf, according to the newspaper.
Mr. MacKay is reported as saying “The early release of criminals onto our streets has a much higher cost than keeping criminals behind bars”. Given that Mr. MacKay apparently represented you with this announcement, I want to know whether you, as Minister of Public Safety, share this view.
It’s my understanding that prison is the most expensive and least effective way of rehabilitating offenders. Studies show that prison is a training ground for deviant behaviour while reinforcing bad patterns of acting and living. Ninety five percent of people who enter prison come out again to resume their lives in our communities as our neighbours. How, then, does imprisoning more people make us safer?
I want to read the studies that support the government’s course of action on prisons. I dispute Mr. MacKay’s assertion and believe it’s unfounded. What is really behind it, in my opinion, is a political strategy to get votes by appearing ‘tough on crime’, a strategy that has worked for past presidents of the United States, among others, when they sought votes in elections. Until I see credible research to back up Mr. MacKay’s statement I will maintain that this is a bogus, politically-motivated claim that is both immoral and counter to the interests of public safety.
Please send me copies of the studies or web links to them. I don’t want to see any glossy government policy documents, unless they refer specifically to credible research.