Paula Mallea practised criminal law for fifteen years in Ontario and Manitoba. While in Kingston, she defended inmates in nine different penitentiaries, spending hundreds of hours at MillhavenÂ’s Special Handling Unit, Kingston Penitentiary, and other institutions, in the process gaining intimate knowledge of prison conditions.
A call to replace Canadaâ€™s incarceration model, which has proven destructive, discriminatory, expensive, counterproductive, and â€” most of all â€” unnecessary.
Imprisonment developed in the western world as the punishment to suit all offences, from violent assault to victimless drug use. Centuries ago, incarcerating convicts represented progress on societyâ€™s part, since it came as a replacement for capital punishment, maiming, and torture. However, after centuries of experience, we now need to recognize the ineffectiveness of incarceration and the need for a new approach.
Our current model â€” taking away convictsâ€™ freedom and holding them in degrading and unhealthy prison conditions â€” promotes recidivism and jeopardizes public safety. It is highly discriminatory, with disproportionate numbers of ethnic, indigenous, mentally ill, drug-dependent, poor, and otherwise marginalized people imprisoned. It is also ruinously expensive.
Elsewhere, alternative models successfully rehabilitate offenders while treating them with dignity and respect. The Canadian correctional system does not, and the result is violence, health problems, mental breakdown, fractured communities, and recidivism. This book lays out the case for a complete overhaul of Canadaâ€™s incarceration model of criminal justice.