Churches to Harper: more incarceration won’t solve crime

The Anglican Church of Canada’s long-time partner, the Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC), has criticized a federal plan that would increase prison capacity and rates of incarceration. CCJC has prepared an information packet for churches and is encouraging all Canadians to consider the implications of this plan.

“Proposed new federal laws will ensure that more Canadians are sent to prison for longer periods, a strategy that has been repeatedly proven neither to reduce crime nor to assist victims,” wrote CCJC president Laurent Champagne in a recent letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“Increasing levels of incarceration by marginalized people is counter-productive and undermines human dignity in our society,” he wrote. He encouraged the government to consider other methods of dealing with offenders, including well-supervised probation or release, bail options, reporting centres, and supportive housing programs.

CCJC also argues that incarceration is a more expensive option. They have produced an info graphic titled “Prison Facts: The Co$ts,” which notes, among other facts, that it costs $101,666 to keep an inmate incarcerated, compared to $24,825 when an offender is maintained in the community.

A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews responded to the CCJC letter in the Jan. 27 Globe and Mail. “Under the previous system, criminals—including convicted terrorists—were sometimes released the day after their sentencing,” said Christopher McCluskey. “This is unacceptable to Canadians.” He also noted that the government has extended financial support to victims.

CCJC was founded in 1972 by 11 church organizations, including the Anglican Church of Canada. Their work includes helping to organize Restorative Justice Week, which considers the human impacts of crime. For more information about their work, visit their website.

Download CCJC’s information packet for use in your church:

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