A call to replace Canada’s incarceration model, which has proven destructive, discriminatory, expensive, counterproductive, and — most of all — 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 society’s part, since it came as a replacement for capital punishment, maiming, and torture.
Our current model — taking away convicts’ freedom and holding them in degrading and unhealthy prison conditions — 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 correctional systems successfully rehabilitate offenders while treating them with dignity and respect. This book lays out the case for a complete overhaul of Canada’s ineffective incarceration model of criminal justice and for a new approach.