STOP BILL C-15!: New Drug Law Will Drive Up Prison Costs

A federal bill that would impose mandatory jail time for serious drug crimes would increase the workload of the parole system, and the government intends to inject more than $100 million over five years to ease the burden, according to the commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada.

Commissioner Don Head said at a Senate committee hearing Thursday that if the bill is passed, CSC will receive an additional $116.5 million over the next five years to support an expected increase in cases for the National Parole Board.

The parole board supervises both federal offenders who are sentenced to two years or more, and provincial offenders in some provinces.

Under the proposed legislation, mandatory sentences would be handed out to everyone convicted of a serious drug offence, such as trafficking, production, and possession for the purpose of trafficking narcotics. A person who grows five to 200 marijuana plants with intent to sell would get a minimum six-month sentence. An addict selling heroin to fellow addicts near a park could go away for two years.

Critics of Canada’s proposed mandatory drug sentences compare them to failed U.S. policies and say they lead to prison overcrowding and end up punishing street-level dealers, most of whom are drug addicts who need treatment, not jail time, they say.

Furthermore, the bill would imprison people who do not pose an immediate threat to the public, said Neil Boyd, criminology professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Boyd also said the bill, when applied to the recorded number of British Columbia’s marijuana cultivators, would cost a total of almost $30 million annually for the additional imprisonments.

– Article from Canwest News Service.

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