Nothing illustrates the essential malevolence of the Harper government more than its transformation of Canadian prisons. Even though crime is at its lowest level in forty years, Mr. Harper's army is dedicated to getting its pound of flesh from the people who live on the margins. Phil Gibson writes:
The atmosphere in Canadian prisons is becoming explosive, as the proportion of visible minorities, mixed with gangs, racists and violent offenders in the general population, sets new records.
“Aboriginal people and women are entering federal penitentiaries in greater numbers than ever before. Twenty-one per cent of the inmate population is of Aboriginal descent and nine per cent of inmates are Black Canadians. Incarceration rates for these two groups far exceed their representation rates in Canadian society at large,” reads the latest annual report of Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers.
“In the last five years, the number of federally incarcerated women has increased by almost 40 per cent while the number of Aboriginal women has increased by over 80 per cent in the last decade. In fact, if not for these sub-groups, the offender population growth rate would have flatlined some time ago,” Sapers reported in June, 2012.
The Harperites say they are building new facilities. However,
the trouble is, new accommodation is being built as cookie-cutter additions and renovations to existing prisons, according to old specifications. The ninety-six bed wings are being grafted onto deteriorating institutions with no provision for mental health care, aboriginal cultural needs or elder care.
What is lost in the hype, says Ivan Zinger -- executive director of Sapers staff -- is the realization "that [as] our criminal justice system increasingly captures disadvantaged segments of the Canadian population, the gradual hardening of conditions of confinement has become a human rights issue.”
And, when it comes to human rights, the Harper government doesn't even acknowledge that they exist.