Canadian Prison Construction Moratorium
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1) Prisons fail to meet their own stated objectives, notably with respect to rehabilitation, deterrence and fostering justice that provides a measure of healing for those impacted by criminalized acts;
2) Prisons reproduce inequality by pushing Indigenous peoples, the poor, the racialized, women made vulnerable by patriarchal structures, LGBTQ2, individuals with mental health and substance use issues, and others further to the margins of Canadian society;
3) The construction of prisons diverts funds from community infrastructure such as social and affordable housing, education, health and mental health care, cooperative businesses, public transit, and the like that promote our collective well-being and safety;
4) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mandated the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould to conduct a review of penal reforms initiated by the Conservatives during their decade in power, with a particular focus on increasing the “use of restorative justice processes and other initiatives to reduce the rate of incarceration amongst Indigenous Canadians”;
5) The Government of Canada allocated $56.6 million to build the 112-bed Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre to replace an existing territorial prison in Nunavut – a jurisdiction that had the highest adult rate of incarceration in the country (534 per 100,000) in 2014/2015, with Indigenous peoples representing 100 per cent of the territory’s prison admissions that fiscal year; and
6) Several other provinces and territories are planning to build new ‘correctional’ spaces in the years ahead and may also seek federal support to fund their penal infrastructure initiatives.
We the undersigned call upon the Government of Canada to enact a federal prison construction moratorium, while encouraging Canadian provinces and territories to do the same. Additionally, the federal government should refrain from funding provincial and territorial prison construction projects at least until the conclusion of their review of the criminal justice system so that viable community alternatives can be seriously considered. A prison expansion moratorium, coupled with the use of carceral divestment strategies and justice reinvestment strategies would build capacity in Canadian communities for restorative and transformative justice responses to criminalized acts.
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