Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hell Must Be Freezing Over

First Flaherty introduces legislation which I can actually support.

Then we find Conrad Black pointing out what's horribly wrong with the HarperCon$ approach to crime and punishment:

This Roadmap--which was released in 2007, and which the Harper government began officially responding to in its budget in 2008, setting out a five-year plan -- turns the humane traditions of Canada upside down. It implicitly assumes that all who are convicted are guilty and have no remaining claim to decency from the state, and that treating confinees accordingly is in the interest of the legally unexceptionable majority.

The Roadmap does not mention prisoners' rights, beyond basic food, shelter, clothing and medical care, and assumes that they are probably not recoverable for society and that the longer they are imprisoned, the better it is for society. Almost no distinction is made between violent and non-violent offenders.

I won't profess any great love or respect for His Lordship - frankly I think he's no better than that great fraudster Charles Ponzi, but he is certainly much more articulate than most of Harper's cabinet seems to be.

The Roadmap holds that anything beyond the necessities for physical survival must be "earned." Traditionally, the punishment is supposed to be the imprisonment itself, not the additional oppressions of that regime, and the proverbial debt to society is paid when the sentence has been served; it does not continue as a permanent Sisyphean burden. In the interests of eliminating illegal drugs in prison, the authors of the Roadmap want all visits to be glass-segregated, no physical contact. This is just a pretext to assist in the destruction of families and friendships.

The importation of contraband by prisoners' visitors can be stopped by strip-searching the prisoners before they leave the visitors centre, as happens to us here, unless the prison staff, who have the unfathomable delight of inspecting us au naturel, are on the take, which is, of course, the problem, as correctional officers in many prisons are frequently caught smuggling, and aren't well enough trained to command higher salaries to make them more resistant to temptation. It is a problem, but it will not be solved by targeting unoffending relatives of inmates. The Roadmap also has naively exaggerated confidence in certain types of scanning devices.

No surprise here, really. Harper and his band of reactionaries are completely oblivious to the long term consequences of their actions. If nothing else, this "roadmap" is one more step on Harper's unstated agenda of making Canada into a right wing, totalitarian state. Taking the worst of prison practices around the world and through history will do nothing to improve public safety.

The whole concept of prison should be terminated, except for violent criminals and chronic non-violent recidivists, and replaced by closely supervised pro bono or subsistence-paid work by bonded convicts in the fields of their specialty. Swindlers and embezzlers, hackers and sleazy telemarketers are capable people and they should serve their sentences by contributing honest work to government-insured employers.

Hmmm...interesting. When you've lost one of the godfathers of right wing ideology in Canada, I'd say you're way off the course you should be on.

No comments: