Watchdog Says Tories Made Prisons More Crowded, Violent

The ombudsman for federal inmates, Howard Sapers, has recently mentioned in his latest report that overall federal prisons have become more crowded, violent and worse at rehabilitation under the Conservative government, regardless of an increment in the budget of about 40 per cent in the past five years. Spacers delivered a harshly worded speech about the Conservative government’s tough-on-crime policies, commenting on its “mass incarceration,” “arbitrary and abusive conditions of detention,” and the victims’ rights agenda, which is the focal point of program by Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

Addressing a gathering of more than 150 people at a Toronto church on Sunday, Mr. Sapers alleged that the idea that “punishment with no apparent limits is justified stands many of the principles underlying our democracy and our criminal-justice system on their head.” He pointed out that during the period from March, 2003, to March, 2013, the number of federal prisoners increased by 2,100, i.e. 16.5 per cent, even though the crime rates had declined. It was highlighted that though the corrections budget is now beefed up to $2.6-billion a year and more than 2,700 new cells are added in the system, more than 20 per cent of inmates are still double-bunked, i.e. two in a cell designed for one.

Mr. Sapers is tasked to report to Parliament on individual and systemic concerns of offenders. He alleged that the government has been clear about its agenda and he hopes his comments “reflect a fair analysis of the impact of that agenda on the mandate of my office.”

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