Why is Canada in the Dark Ages?

There were 2.2 million people incarcerated in the U.S. in 2013. There were 1.6 million people incarcerated in China in 2014.

Does the United States have the safest neighbourhoods on earth? What is your nightly news telling you?

Daniel Dale is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star, and on May 23rd the paper published “U.S. criminal justice reform gains momentum” under his byline. It continues the saga of a years-long push by both Republicans and Democrats to dump the weathered, worn and discredited tough-on-crime agenda prevalent in American jurisprudence and public opinion since the 1990s for a ‘smart-on-crime’ and ‘right-on-crime’ alternative.

Some argue that for Republicans in particular, money is the motivation. It costs more for the State to kill a person than it does to keep them in prison for life. State spending on corrections in 1990 was 16.9 billions of dollars; by 2013 the figure was 51.9 billion. Regardless, change is coming, and while Washington may not lead the way in spite of the consensus among federal lawmakers, change is coming notably fast at the state level, especially in conservative-led states.

The movement is making for odd bedfellows. The conservative billionaire Koch brothers, liberal billionaire George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul, Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton are all standing for justice and prison reforms. Even Ted Cruz believes mandatory minimums should be slashed and judges granted more flexibility. He wants government to stop creating new crimes, and it should make the plea bargain fairer by forcing prosecutors to disclose evidence helpful to the accused.

Is it any wonder countries like New Zealand, Australia, the U.S.A., and the United Kingdom have been looking askance at Canada over the last few years? When you point a gun at your foot and pull the trigger, you will shoot yourself in the foot. It seems a lot of Canadians don’t know that, and our current federal government sees ignorance as fertile ground for votes.

So, why is Canada in the Dark Ages? You’re not paying attention, that’s why.


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