As Crime Rates Fall

22 Jul, 2013

Justice Spending Up

The Harper government said it makes ‘no apologies’ for getting tough on crime following the release of a watchdog report that showed criminal justice spending climbing over the last decade, even as the crime rate fell.

The spending increases are most evident after 2006 when the Conservatives took power. The opposition pounced on the report, saying it shows the government’s tough-on-crime agenda is out-of-step with reality and has been unfair to the provinces, who bear the brunt of the rising costs.

NDP public safety critic, Randall Garrison said boosting criminal justice expenditures in the face of declining crime rates showed the Conservatives were “poor fiscal managers of the public safety system.”

The trend continued in March, he said, citing the introduction of legislation that would impose new mandatory penalties for those convicted of contraband tobacco trafficking and smuggling.

“Since we’ve come to office, we’ve introduced 30 pieces of legislation aimed at keeping our streets and communities safe,” Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said. “The cost of crime, for the most part, is borne by victims.”

Bill Cosby

“Every closed eye is not sleeping, and every open eye is not seeing.”

Since 2002, per capita spending on criminal justice in Canada climbed 23% even as the crime rate fell by the same amount, the report said. It found that $20.3 billion was spent on criminal justice in the last fiscal year—about the same as national defence. The bulk of the spending—about 73%—. was by the provinces and territories.

When expressed in terms of percentage of nominal GDP, criminal justice spending was actually trending downward from 2002 to 2006, but steadily increased under the Harper government.

The report found that provincial police spending rose $2.3 billion over the last decade, while provincial court spending went up
$800 million.

On the federal side, corrections spending climbed $700 million, while police spending went up $600 million. The Conservatives have been pushing a tough-on-crime agenda since coming into power, including mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes.

Thanks to the Harper government, Canada’s criminal justice system has turned into big business.

Source: Postmedia News

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