Since 2006 when Prime Minister Stephen Harper first took office, his governing party has passed numerous bills designed to reinforce his "tough on crime" approach. Stressing that crime in Canada was on the rise and strong countermeasures were needed to keep offenders in prison longer, the bills passed into law have revised the Canadian Criminal Code, expanded the Federal prison system, and changed minimum sentencing laws.
While just a partial list of the different "get tough" bills passed or being considered in recent years, the Federal government has also ordered a radical restructuring of the Federal prison system. This includes expanding prison capacity and reducing rehabilitation programming for prison inmates.
Prisoner access to mental health services, chaplains, and vocational retraining programs has been drastically reduced. While cost-saving measures advocated by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews have faced controversy (including the recent decision to eliminate non-Christian chaplains for federal inmates), the federal "get tough" philosophy is unlikely to change.But how much scientific justification is there for "getting tough" on crime? To read more, check out my new Huffington Post piece here.