Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Stephen Harper shows his true colours again: Canadians will spend billions implementing a failed and costly US prison system

Update: Since this is an extremely important topic for Canadians, this piece will remain the top post for the next couple of days. Please note that a new study released on Monday has revealed that 7.3 million Americans were processed through the US prison system in 2007, which is equivalent to S1 in every 31 adults:

SA record number of Americans served time in corrections systems across the country in 2007, according to a report released Monday by the Pew Center on the States. The U.S. correctional population -- those in jail, prison, on probation or on parole -- totaled 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 adults.

This is what Harper wants to do to Canada, turn us into a prison State.

A warning to Canada, Dr Jekyll has turned into Mr. Hyde again, and it didn"t take long.

Stephen Harper has on numerous occasions promised to work with every party in parliament for the betterment of Canadians, but don"t you believe him. He is back to his old ways at the first opportunity that has presented itself, promising to send Canadians back to the dark ages.

On Friday 27 February 2009, the Conservative government revived a bill to impose automatic jail terms for drug-related crimes, Swhich would send people to jail for growing as little as one marijuana plant for the purpose of trafficking. This is the same type of system which has bankrupted the United States and has led to the Sunprecedented decision to reduce the nation"s largest prison system by one-third. Just this month, three federal judges called Sfor California to cut its prison population by as much as a third, effectively ruling that (the) dysfunctional state government is incapable of overseeing the prison system.

A 2007 report from the JFA Institute, a Washington criminal-justice research group, revealed that the US prison system is costly, harmful, and a complete failure, requiring a Smajor justice-system overhaul.

SThe number of people in U.S. prisons has risen eight-fold since 1970, with little impact on crime but at great cost to taxpayers and society It recommends shorter sentences and parole terms, alternative punishments, more help for released inmates and decriminalizing recreational drugs. It said the steps would cut the prison population in half, save $20 billion a year and ease social inequality without endangering the public.

SBut the recommendations run counter to decades of broad U.S. public and political support for getting tough on criminals through longer, harsher prison terms and to the Bush administration's anti-drug and strict-sentencing policies.

Unfortunately for Canadians, the Conservative Government is planning to mimic the present flawed US prison system that this report faults in so many ways, in spite of the fact that Canadian crime rates have fallen over the last few years. This will increase the Canadian prison population and divert billions of dollars from needed social programs.

To give people an idea of the sheer madness of this proposal consider the following data for the United States: Since the mid-1980"s, marking the new beginning of the American SWar on Drugs", the United States prison population has more than doubled. They have over 2.2 million people incarcerated, representing 25% of the worlds prison population from a country that only has 5% of the world"s populace. A staggering $41+ billion is spent annually on corrections alone, even though reports indicate that $37 billion would be saved annually with legalization. They have a private prison industry that is automated for maximum profitability. There is no rehabilitation in the United States because the machine that feeds on these brutal laws is making too much money for the elite. If the majority of Canadians would just review the statistics available from the US Department of Justice"s own website they would be appalled as to what Stephen Harper and the Conservatives are proposing.

In the United States, police arrested a record 829,625 persons for marijuana violations in 2006. Marijuana arrests in the US have topped previous records and are costing taxpayers billions of dollars per year.
US Marijuana Arrests 1965-2006

Based on 2005 population figures for both prisons and cities in the United States, the US Sprison population would rank as the 4th largest city behind New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago while beating Houston out by over 200,000 people. This is what Stephen Harper and his Conservative Government are proposing, to create a prison population that will rank as Canada"s fourth largest city, at a cost of billions of dollars to Canadians.

The beginning of the Canadian "War on Drugs" and the introduction of the American style of mandatory minimum sentencing are just the start of the changes that Canadians are about to buy into. This stepping stone, geared to create the same type of class structure that dominates the United States is the beginning of the process of dismantling Canada.

What makes Harper think that Canadians want this failed system implemented in Canada, especially during the greatest economic crisis since the great depression?

As Canadian MP Bill Siksay (BurnabyDouglas, NDP) pointed out during Friday"s Parliament session:

SWhile tough on crime measures always top the list of potential fixes, there is a growing realization that drug prohibition policies are making the situation worse.

SAlcohol prohibition did not work. Many of the same problems now associated with the drug trade were experienced in the United States during its period of alcohol prohibition. Gang violence that often caught innocent citizens, impure and dangerous alcohol sold in black markets, home stills and underground production, untreated addictions and family dislocation were all serious issues.

SIt took ending prohibition and implementing alcohol control policies to restore respect for the law and make progress on alcohol related social issues.

SWe must apply what we know to be true. We must move from prohibition to drug control regimes modelled on the experience of alcohol prohibition and control. Bold steps to confront our drug use hypocrisy and end the profitability of illegal drugs will make our communities safer.

One final word to all Canadians, including anyone who was foolish enough to vote for Harper, it"s your money that is going to be used to build these prisons, pay the court fees, hire lawyers and judges, and enforce laws which will in turn lead to more violence. The most important thing to keep in mind is that those who consume cannabis are not criminals. They are your brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and your children, and many have been sacrificed to further the agenda of certain individuals and organizations who feed off the profits from the criminalization of this simple plant that has the potential to save us and our environment.

So while we wait for Harper to be removed from office for his complete lack of understanding for what is best for our society, and for his disregard of the mandate of the majority of Canadians that believe the consumption of cannabis should be legalized, why not educate ourselves further by watching three amazing documentaries about the complete disaster known as the War on Drugs" and the prison industrial complex (Please note that the first few minutes of the first movie are in Dutch, but the rest is in English).

War on Drugs: The Prison Industrial Complex

The Union (1:44:30)

Hemp Revolution part 1 of 2

Hemp Revolution part 2 of 2


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