The Conservatives are now beginning to implement their help the prison-industrial complex agenda which is easy to sell since the public for the most part will always buy into a be harsh on crime program. Some Liberals may object and the NDP but they will do nothing. Not only do they not want to bring down the government but they do not want to appear as soft on crime. Of course jails are tremendously expensive and conservatives always worry about govt. expenditures and entitlements. But criminals need not worry about their entitlements to go to prison! That is safe and even expanding.
Tories propose tighter parole rules
Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan says non-violent criminals such as fraudsters and drug dealers should have to earn the right to parole. (Canadian Press)
The federal government said Monday it will introduce legislation to crack down on early parole for non-violent offenders, a move it says will augment proposed tougher sentences for white-collar criminals.
The new legislation will change existing laws that allow non-violent criminals convicted of a first offence to be eligible for early parole after serving just one-sixth of their sentences and full parole after serving one-third of their sentences, said Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan at a press conference in Montreal.
He said under the current laws, criminals such as fraudsters and drug dealers are routinely granted parole in these circumstances, unless the parole board believes the parolees might commit violent crimes.
Van Loan proposes changes that will require criminals to demonstrate they have earned their parole.
"This will move us one step closer to a system of parole in which early release is a privilege granted only to those who have shown they are committed to rehabilitation rather than a right granted to every criminal," he said.
Conservative push for tougher sentencing
The Conservative government has introduced a number of bills to lengthen prison sentences for people convicted of crimes. In June, the government introduced legislation to repeal the "faint hope clause" that allows people convicted of first- and second-degree murder to apply for early parole.
Parliament gave approval last week to Bill C-25, which does away with a judge's ability to give two-for-one credit to criminals for time spent in pretrial custody.
And Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has also proposed tougher measures for white-collar criminals, including two-year minimum sentences in fraud cases involving more than $1 million.
Van Loan said while tougher sentences for white-collar criminals are welcome, they won't be effective unless parole laws are also changed.
"It’s one thing to increase sentences," he said. "It’s another thing to make sure criminals actually serve out their time before they’re released back into our communities."
Van Loan said the new measure will cost taxpayers about $60 million a year to pay to keep the non-violent criminals in prisons, but he described the cost as a bargain relative to the amount of money fraudsters have reportedly stolen from individuals.
The move to impose harsher penalties on white-collar criminals comes after a number of high-profile cases in Canada this year.
In Alberta last month, two men were charged in a scheme that police say robbed about 4,000 investors of up to $400 million. And in Quebec, Montreal investment dealer Earl Jones is facing fraud charges over an alleged Ponzi scheme that led to the disappearance of over $50 million in investors' savings.
Critics of the Conservative initiatives have suggested they will do little to actually discourage white-collar crime.
Duff Conacher, a coordinator for Democracy Watch, said last week that the U.S. experience shows that high penalties do not decrease the rate of corporate crime, even in countries with a national securities commission.
"The regulators either don't have the resources or the tough enforcement attitude to have a high chance of catching fraudsters," Conacher said.