A reporter's eye view: Janice Tibbetts on Harper's prison agenda
By Janice Tibbetts, Justice Reporter, Postmedia News
The cost and effect of the Harper government's law-and-order agenda is a story that got off the ground in 2010 and promises to evolve in the coming years as more prisoners are sent to prison and and kept there longer.
The government estimates one new law alone will cost the prison system an extra $2 billion over the next five years to build thousands of new cells to house up to 5,000 new offenders. The government's spending watchdog estimates the new law, which strips judges of discretion to give two-for-one credits for time spent in pre-trial custody, will cost roughly three times the federal estimate.
The government also says it "has an idea" of the cost of all its law-and-order initiatives, but for now won't share that information.
Critics say there is no evidence mandatory minimum jail terms deter crime. They also say Canadians deserve to know whether they are getting value for their money.
There are several proposed laws winding their way through the parliamentary system that would impose mandatory jail terms for a variety of crimes.
Postmedia News has written dozens of stories on the government's crime agenda this year - and it will continue to be a theme in 2011.