In the Globe and Mail article, “Coalition of churches condemns Ottawa’s justice plan” CCJC was interviewed on the topic of our letter to the Prime Minister in which we asked him to reconsider the government’s decision to spend more on prisons and to make Canadians increasingly reliant on incarceration.
Lorraine Berzins was interviewed during the program “As It Happens” on CBC radio. Lorraine discussed our letter to the Prime Minister, and the negative impact of prison construction for our communities. If you missed the broadcast you can listen here.
CCJC is encouraged that our message is beginning to resonate. Canada’s criminal justice system is severely flawed. We believe most Canadians will not want to put more people in prison for non-violent crimes when they realize the impact it will have on the most disadvantaged, its lack of effectiveness, and its serious budgetary implications. Victims and communities are getting the short end of the stick.
Mr. Steve Sullivan the former Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime has been quoted stating:
“The research tells us, and in my experience in working with victims for over 15 years, what matters most to victims is the process. They expect information from those involved in the process and the system. They expect to be respected, they expect information, and they expect to have a voice and for people to listen to that voice. If we do all those things well, what the research tells us is that victims are actually less focused on the outcome, which means the sentence. So if we do better by victims throughout the process, they are less concerned about what the sentence is. They certainly expect people to be held accountable, and they expect appropriate sentences, but they will no longer judge the value of the harm done to them by the time we put somebody in prison.
As my final recommendation to the Prime Minister and to the government, we have asked that the government refocus its efforts and its priorities on trying to meet the real needs of victims of crime. Sentencing and the “get tougher on crime” agenda will not meet the real needs of victims of crime, who are suffering every day, who call our office every day, who have trouble making their mortgage payments because they have lost their job, whose kids are acting up in school because they can’t get counseling. These are real challenges that victims of crime face every single day. Obviously we need to have prisons, and we need to have programs for offenders who are in prison. I think we need to spend, as the Prime Minister talked about yesterday, an equal amount of effort and time on the needs of victims as we do on the needs of offenders.”