September 13, 2011, Ottawa, ON – A disproportionately large volume of crime in this country is committed by a disproportionately small number of offenders. Dealing effectively with these repeat offenders is central to improving the public safety of Canadians according to the latest instalment in the Macdonald-Laurier Institute's newest series, Straight Talk, in which crime-expert Scott Newark evaluates Canada's corrections and parole systems in dealing with repeat offenders.
Newark concluded that "the reality of the prevalence of repeat offenders in crime is not reflected in our current parole eligibility laws."
Newark described the current system as a "disjointed, one size fits all approach to crime". As an example, Newark describes how offenders that have repeatedly committed crimes while on parole are still eligible for parole on the same basis as a first offender.
He offers several recommendations:
1. Convert statutory release into earned parole. Currently, offenders have a presumptive right of release (with rare exception) after not more than two-thirds of their sentence no matter how often they broke the law or breached parole. Parole must be a privilege to be earned, not a right to be demanded.
2. Legislate escalating future parole ineligibility consequences for people who commit crimes while on parole.
3. Breaching parole conditions should itself be a crime that Correctional Services of Canada (CSC) and the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) are required to take into account in making their decisions.
4. The CSC and PBC should be required by law to consider the availability of post-sentence supervision for high-risk offenders in making their decisions.
5. The Parole Board should be authorized to order electronic monitoring of high-risk parolees.
6. A public analysis of correctional programs to measure re-offending impact should be undertaken with resources re-allocated to more effective programs.
7. The government's platform in the last election included an attempt to create a drug-free environment in prisons. This is a huge challenge, but would pay enormous dividends.
8. Amend the Immigration Refugee Protection Act and the International Transfer of Offenders Act to expedite the removal of non-citizen criminals convicted of crimes in Canada.
Newark stated that "implementing these eight recommendations will yield immediate, meaningful, and real public safety dividends for our country and its citizens."
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