Crime Bill could hurt Prisoners

10 Jan, 2013

Canada’s omnibus crime bill will lead to more physical and mental ‘degradation’ among prisoners and risks their reintegration back into society, warns an article in Canada’s leading medical journal.

Bill C-10—which increases mandatory minimum sentences and changes eligibility for conditional sentences—will inevitably produce more prisoners serving longer sentences, Adelina Iftene and Allan Manson, of the faculty of law at Queen’s University in Kingston write in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

The fallout will be dramatic increases in already overcrowded prisons, “more stress, more volatility and the likelihood of more violence,” as well as increased spread of hepatitis, HIV and other infectious diseases, Manson said in an interview.

“From both an ethical and public safety perspective, one needs to consider a simple fact,” Manson and Iftene write in the CMAJ, noting most prisoners in Canada will eventually be released. “The intrinsic difficulties of reintegration after a period of incarceration should not be compounded by physical and mental health challenges.”

“We’re in an era where jails are becoming the asylums of the past for many people with mental health problems,” Manson said.

Without more resources, more prisoners will overwhelm already overburdened prison mental health services, he said.

And as the numbers of prisoners increase, fewer prisons will be able to offer the correctional programs necessary to motivate inmates, “stabilize their mental status” and give them a purpose, the authors write.

Source: Postmedia News 

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