EDMONTON—The federal government announced over $150 million in funding to expand federal prisons across Canada this week. The expansion is to address the expected increase in prison population as a result of the Tories’ law and order initiatives.
The funding will be used to build additional cells in federal institutions in Ontario, Quebec, and the Prairies.
Laurie Hawn, MP for Edmonton Centre who made the announcement for the portion of the funding committed to the Prairies institutions Monday in Edmonton, says the funding to increase prison capacities is part of a larger justice agenda.
“What we’re introducing … is a broad range of justice bills that are designed to basically respect the right of the victims over the rights of criminals,” she said.
“It doesn’t include just sentencing and so on, but it includes education, it includes rehabilitation, and all aspects of the challenge.”
The Prairies’ portion of the funding is $55 million, which will be used to expand facilities in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Appearing before a parliamentary committee last October, Don Head, the commissioner of Correctional Service of Canada, said the implementation of the new tough-on-crime legislation—the Truth in Sentencing Act and the Tackling Violent Crime Act—means there will be more prisoners that the system has to accommodate.
Head said without the new legislation, the projected prisoner population would be 14,856 by 2014. With the new legislation in place, the projection has gone up to 18,684 offenders.
The Truth in Sentencing Act limits the credit for time spent in pre-sentencing custody from two days for each day in detention to one day, or under exceptional circumstances, 1.5 days.
The Tackling Violent Crime Act toughens mandatory prison sentences for serious gun crimes and raises the legal age of sexual consent, among other things.
“We believe when a judge says 10 years, it means 10 years,” Hawn said, explaining the motivation behind the Truth in Sentencing Act.