On March 13, 2012, Canadian lawmakers approved Crime Bill C-10, also referred to the Omnibus Crime Bill. Keep reading and you’ll learn why the passing of the Crime Bill is a big mistake.
The approval of Crime Bill C-10 led to an increase in the amount of time that an individual with a criminal record must wait in order to qualify for a pardon. Individuals with summary offences now have to wait 5 years instead of 3 years to apply to have their record sealed. However, individuals with indictable offences now have to wait 10 years instead of 5 years. Indictable offences range from theft to armed robbery and serious drug offences. Yet, all individuals with indictable offences have to wait the same amount of time. As for theft, two people can have an identical situation, but for subjective reasons, one judge may proceed summarily and another by indictment.
For more information on Pardons (now called Record Suspensions), click this button:Go to Record Suspension Page
Notably, it’s no longer called a pardon. In a shift away from forgiveness and toward penalty, the Parole Board of Canada changed the term “pardon” — which means “an act of forgiveness” — to “record suspension.”
I often tell people the government is no longer in the business of forgiveness. Something as simple as a change in name from pardon to record suspension sets the tone for the kind of relationship the Canadian Government chooses to have with people who are in need of second chances. The U.S. focus on zero tolerance only lead to an increase in drug crimes in the United States.
I’m a firm believer that pardons — or so-called “record suspensions” — are extremely important. Many employers run criminal record background checks and un-pardoned individuals can experience tremendous difficulties as they attempt to re-integrate into society.
A pardon, which effectively seals the individual’s criminal record, makes it much easier to get a job. Common sense tells us that if all avenues for earning a legal, legitimate income are closed off, then individuals will:
• be forced turn to alternative not-so-legal money-making options in an effort to simply survive; or
• they will turn to public assistance
Both options are less-than-ideal for the individual and Canadian society as a whole! Earning an honest wage is the first step toward rebuilding your life. Pardons serve to reduce the recidivism rate, as it makes it easier for individuals who are seeking to rebuild their lives.
There are two components to this idea. First, is whether the conviction is relevant to the position sought. If a person commits, for example, impaired driving, should they be discriminated against if the position they are applying for is in relation to say ‘banking’? The second component is rehabilitation and degree. One person could have one indictable offence (ie. theft) and have to wait the same amount of time to apply for a Record Suspension as someone who was once a career criminal and has say, 20 convictions! The idea that a both parties have to wait the same amount of time is, in my opinion, wrong.
Under the old pardon rules, less than 4% re-offended after being pardoned. This means that the remaining 96% are being punished because of the 4% that re-offend.
There’s another major flaw to Crime Bill C-10. This Canadian Crime Bill serves to put more money toward the criminal justice system, rather than investing in the education system. Crime Bill C-10 pulls resources away from Canada’s schools.
Incredibly, while we spend approximately $8,700 per year on each student, the cost to jail a single criminal is more than ten times higher at approximately $88,000 per year. Take a look at the following video for a very good explanation of how much the Crime Bill will cost taxpayers.
Logic tells us that a well-educated individual is less likely to turn to crime, since they have more (legal) opportunities in life. So wouldn’t it make more sense to invest a bit more in students?
Investing in the nation’s system would mean students would receive a higher quality education. This would leave them better equipped for life after high school and it stands to reason that well-educated individuals would have more opportunities in life. Therefore, we can draw a logical conclusion: crime rates would decrease, since individuals would have more legitimate and legal opportunities due to a better education.
Families raising children will have a compromised standard of living (children raised in lower-income households are at greater risk of offending). Need I say more?
In my opinion, Crime Bill C-10 is counter-productive. In my estimation, there is no benefit from Crime Bill C-10. It doesn’t benefit the nation’s educational system and its students, as funds that would otherwise be allocated to education are spent on the criminal justice system.
Crime Bill C-10 does not benefit taxpayers and society as a whole, as individuals who may otherwise be honest, contributing members of society are driven to public assistance programs or illegal money-making options because they due to further delays in ability to apply for a record suspension. Plus, if the individual re-offends, taxpayers must pay tens of thousands of dollars per year to keep the offender incarcerated. And Crime Bill C-10 certainly does not benefit the offender.
Crime Bill C-10 represents a shift from crime prevention and offender rehabilitation, toward punishment and penalty. The offender is penalized, punished and stigmatized far beyond the end of their sentence And Crime Bill C-10 doesn’t just punish offenders; it’s punishing society as a whole.
Being tougher on criminals only puts them at greater risk of re-offending. Better, bigger jails. Tougher sentences. They are not the answer. Putting more resources into our school system and focusing on rehabilitation programs is. The idea that the new Crime Bill provides better protection to the victim is an illusion.
The resources to jail someone for longer would be better served if the funds went to treatment programs and education instead. Then the issue of relapse is diminished.