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Some Interesting Facts About Criminals And Prisons In Canada
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Does crime pay or does it not?

Recent murder cases such as the case of former colonel Russell Williams and the most recent one of the Shafia so called honor killing led me to do some research on the actual situation in prisons. I was just curious to know what kind of life would such criminals lead while serving their time, and I felt rather surprised and uneasy at what I found out.

The first thing that interested me was the number of inmates actually in prison in Canada. According to “Juristat, Statistics Canada”, the average number of inmates serving their time in prison on a daily basis is 153,000. This is a huge number considering that the population of Canada does not exceed 34,000,000 (about one criminal out of every 215 people).

In the year 2004-2005, the average cost for incarcerating a federal prisoner per day was $259.05. The cost of incarcerating a male prisoner per year was $87,665 while the cost for a female prisoner was between $150,000 and $250,000.

In the year 2005 to 2006, correctional services expenditures totaled almost 3 billion dollars, of which 71% was spent by federal and provincial prisons, and if my calculations are right, that should represent something like 2.13 billion dollars. Of course, this money includes prison administration, safety, maintenance, staff salaries etc.

Another interesting fact is that the prisoners are paid wages. They are paid between $5.25 to $6.90 tax free money a day just for having the decency of following the correctional plans that have been set for them. That is how a spokeswoman for the Correctional Service of Canada puts it: “It’s an incentive to invite them to actively take part in their rehabilitation.” And those who are belligerent and refuse to do anything at all are still eligible to receive one dollar a day.

This money is also said to be necessary for the prisoners because they have to pay for their own cable, phone calls, snacks, pens and paper, coffee, tea, etc. While at the same time, they receive free meals, free boarding, free professional training, free education, free dental and health care etc. This is in fact a life that is better than a certain number of poor people, the only difference is that the poor have freedom, the criminals do not.

Now let’s come back to the numbers: 153,000 inmates cost the taxpayers 2.13 billion dollars every year. I do not feel comfortable when I think that, as a taxpayer, my hard earned money goes in part to pay for the support of all sorts of people who are paying for their crimes only by the loss of their freedom. In prison, they do not do any contribution to the society that they have harmed.

Let’s take the Shafia trio killers for example. They are said to be a very wealthy family. Now they are in prison serving their terms. The taxpayers have to pay for their food and lodging, health care, rehabilitation program, and on top of that we also have to pay them wages for being nice enough to follow the correctional plans that are set for them. And during all the time of their incarceration, their own money will lie in the banks making interests and waiting for them to come out and return to their life of luxury.

A Canadian of low income or of no income at all, when reaching the age of 65, can receive a pension and supplement from the government. But, to my knowledge, if the applicant has an income lower than the full benefit from the government, his income is deduced from the full benefits and he is only given the balance. In the case that the applicant has no income but has some money in the bank, he must first finish spending what is in his account before being able to qualify for government benefits. The law being such for the good Canadians why should it be different for the bad ones?

Why should murderers like the Shafias be exempt of paying for their board and lodging, their meals their rehabilitation training and all other benefits they get in prison. Why should we indeed pay them a salary even? On the contrary wealthy criminals like them should be asked to pay for themselves until they have sold their last asset and spent their last penny in the bank before the government gives them anything free.

As for the less fortunate criminals, who unfortunately form the majority of the incarcerated inmates, they should do just like everybody else does in society, that is work. They should be requested to work for all they get for free in the prisons. There is absolutely no reason why people out of prison should work for their living while those in prison get everything for free. There is absolutely no reason why the good people should work hard and pay taxes in order to support the bad ones that commit crimes and harm the society. All this does not seem to be fair........, perhaps the system should be reviewed and reforms should be made.

Perhaps the prisons should be redesigned into factories with solid walls and security. The prisons could set up all kinds of factories. Cheap labor would make goods manufactured by inmates very competitive on the market and sell well, and there would be a very low risk for the prisons to go bankrupt. .

The inmates would have to work for their living just as we do. Their work would pay for everything, from the administration to their board and lodging, the surplus money would be put in personal accounts and just some pocket money would be allowed to them for their phone calls and coffee.

Wealthy criminals like the Shafias should work like the other inmates, but they would have to pay for all their expense with their own money, the money they would earn through their work would go to a fund for the improvement of prison conditions. These measures if adopted would dramatically cut down expenses and the taxpayers' money could be used on other things such as education, health care, old age security,etc

For criminals, loss of freedom should be accompanied by compulsary labor. Prisons should be places feared by criminals, not a place where they lead a comfortable life and enjoy all sorts of benefits from the government.


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