Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
The rising cost of crime and punishment
The Free Press has written numerous articles in the last few days on the rising cost of corrections, and concerns by the Manitoba Government Employees Union about prison overcrowding. I weighed in with a column pointing out that maybe it was time for the strident law-and-order advocates to figure out a way of paying for the increased costs of longer sentences and new criminal code offences. The provinces claim it will cost them billions of dollars to pay to administer and incarcerate the increased numbers of prison inmates that will accrue from the federal government's omnibus crime bill, expected to become law later this year.
The focus of the MGEU story was on prison overcrowding, but that is, of course, only one part of the total justice portfolio. Policing, court administration and prosecutions all have their own budget lines.
The following is information provided by the Manitoba government on the increases in spending for the four main areas of justice programs:
|COPS (RCMP, WPS, BPS, Dakota Ojibway)||$72,223||$81,789||$86,978||$92,994||$104,273||$112,132||$120,794||$126,601|
The quick analysis shows that total justice spending has gone from $231.1 million to $384.7 million over the period used above. That is a total increase of $153.6 million, or a 66.5 per cent increase. In individual line items, funding for policing went up 75 per cent ($54 million increase), courts by 28 per cent ($11 million), prosecution rose 61.3 per cent ($10 million) and corrections, the current cause celebre, increased by a whopping 76 per cent ($78 million).
Submitted for your consideration and debate.
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About Dan Lett
Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.
Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.
In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.
He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.
In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.
Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.
Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.
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