Decades of evidence on Canadian prison policy is being trumped by ideology and populist pandering, says an independent report on the Conservative government’s corrections road map. “Raw wedge politics – in place of studied evidence – is the new face of public policy for Canada,” Graham Stewart, one of the study’s co-authors, said Thursday. Stewart, the retired head of the John Howard Society of Canada, and Michael Jackson, a law professor, have written a 235-page deconstruction of the Harper government’s 2007 blueprint for revamping Canadian corrections policies, reports the Canadian Press.
Their scathing analysis contends that the government road map starts with what they call an ideological “myth” – that human rights are at odds with public safety. Over the last three decades, the per capita rate of U.S. prison incarceration has skyrocketed compared with Canada, the authors noted, yet the two countries’ crime rates have risen and fallen together. Financially strapped American state governments are now desperately seeking ways to reduce their prison populations, including rescinding exactly the kinds of tougher sentencing measures the Conservatives are pursuing.