CCJA SAYS C-10 WILL NOT MAKE STREETS SAFER
Canada's largest and oldest criminology association, the Canadian Criminal Justice Association (CCJA) fears that the “Safe Streets and Communities Act” will do little to improve the long term safety of Canada’s streets and communities . The act places great emphasis on increasing sentences of imprisonment while we know that there is no demonstrated deterrent effect for sentences of incarceration. In this time of declining crime rates and serious fiscal and economic challenges, the additional costs of imposing a prison sentence where it is unnecessary to ensure public safety would be a waste of resources.
The CCJA is supportive of proposed changes to the State Immunity Act but, we believe it unlikely that they will in fact have any deterrent effect on terrorist activity. We certainly support the right of victims to appear and speak at parole hearings and to obtain information about the offender.
CCJA agrees that the term “record suspension” more accurately characterizes the nature of what we now call a “pardon” but, considering that 10% of Canadians have criminal records, we are opposed to extending the wait times for record suspensions as well as the blanket policy of making certain offences ineligible for a record suspension. Parole Board statistics show that the current wait times are clearly sufficient, given that almost 97% of those receiving record suspensions remain crime-free.
The amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act which create mandatory minimum sentences for “serious” drug offences are, in the opinion of the CCJA unlikely to have a significant deterrent effect on the production and sale of illicit substances. Rather than creating mandatory minimum penalties, the CCJA suggests that an alternative may be to create a table of presumptive penalties but, allow judicial discretion so that any deviance from the presumptive sentence would be justified in writing by the sentencing judge. The CCJA applauds the inclusion of the requirement to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of these measures, should Parliament proceed with the creation of these mandatory minimum penalties.
Amendments to the sentencing and general principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act to include denunciation, harsher sentencing, naming violent youth after sentencing and other proposed measures do not address the root causes of youth violence. We would encourage the government to look into more effective methods of crime prevention through social development and develop the capacity to treat and rehabilitate Canada’s youngest offenders.
The entire world has been struggling with economic problems since 2008. The challenges continue as we see many countries and their economies on the verge of collapse. This bill cements an erroneous idea that the problem with public safety in Canada is a lack of “tough” sentencing. While Canada has been fortunate in avoiding much of the angst of our neighbors and partners, our economy too is fragile and this is no time to be hobbling it with billion dollar wasteful expenditures that do not address the systemic causes of crime in society.