Lately, Tasha Kheiridden has been aiming her barbs at the government she once supported. Her most recent target is Corrections Canada, which has decided that more double bunking is appropriate for Canada's inmates. There are at least two reasons why the policy is not a good idea. The first is that double bunking is more expensive than housing one inmate in each cell:
Putting two inmates in a cell originally designed for one is a recipe for spreading disease, straining facilities, increasing stress, and making prisons more dangerous places. Over time, this money-saving measure may end up costing taxpayers more.
On the health issue, prisons should take their cues from hospital designers, who increasingly are abandoning double-occupancy rooms in favour of single ones. Why? Because in the long run it costs less, due in large part to the reduction in the spread of communicable diseases between patients.
Secondly, double bunking puts inmates in a pressure cooker, increasing the likelihood of prison violence:
Roommates without criminal records have a hard enough time getting along; why should one expect that two offenders will coexist peacefully in a 10-by-7 foot cell? According to the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, “an estimated 90 per cent of all prisoners have a mental health problem, including personality disorders, and /or a substance misuse problem.”
Recently, Canadian federal correctional investigator Howard Sapers attributed a rise in violence in western prisons to overcrowding. Sapers told the Calgary Herald that “crowding has that effect: it creates tension and it increases opportunities for interpersonal violence because people are in closer proximity.”
Conservative prison policy is based on the fervent conviction that what inmates need is more punishment. Such policy underscores the fact that, while the Harperites live and breathe ideology; they have very few good ideas.
What John Stuart Mill wrote in the 19th century remains true in the 21st century: "Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."