Hudak's PCs Propose Get-out-of-Jail Program: Taxpayers Would Pay Extra $3k per Inmate
May 27, 2011 by Paul McKeever
You’ve been worried about not making ends meet; perhaps even worried about losing your job or your business. Gasoline prices are cripplingly high. The McGuinty government seems bound and determined to empty your wallet and make just about everything increasingly inconvenient and time consuming. Thanks to the McGuinty Liberals’ ban on Health Canada approved pesticides, you are now dealing with a season of sneezing and a host of critters that are destroying lawns and gardens all over your neighbourhood. You have decided, firmly, that you want McGuinty’s Liberals gone, and you’re looking for a better party to fill those vacant Liberal seats at Queens Park after the October 6, 2011 provincial election. However, today, you heard that the focus of Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is…wait for it…making you and other Ontario taxpayers pay an extra $20M, every year, so that violent criminals and convicted sex offenders can be let out of prison to get some sun and pick up some litter in your neighbourhood. Huh?
It is common knowledge, among conservative strategists, that there is a small block of voters who never believe that prisoners – ever – are truly paying for their crimes. That block will always approve of just about any additional punishment that any politician proposes. Yesterday, Hudak and his Progressive Conservatives thought they’d try to buy-off those voters by promising that a Hudak government would make convicts in provincial detention centres do up to 40 hours of work each week. On the surface, it sounds like a get-tough-on-prisoners program. Scratch the surface though, and you will quickly discover that it is just the opposite. It is an easy-on-serious-criminals program that will raid the taxpayer’s wallet yet again, and endanger children and others in communities across Ontario.
First of all, it’s not as though these convicts will be pounding boulders with iron mallets. They’ll be picking up litter. Writing as a person who worked through his undergraduate years by taking on a summer job in which I sometimes had to load two full two-man truckloads of trash into a garbage truck each day – I can tell you: picking up a few bits of paper and plastic to clean up a park hardly qualifies as “hard labour”. Heck, the local Scout troop – including members of my own family – does that voluntarily, early in the morning, after nights in which the local fair causes the town park to be covered in paper cups and tins. Truth be told, the litter pick-up is kind of fun, and personally rewarding.
Second, it is not as though the convicts in question are a collection of jaywalkers who refused to pay their fines. Ontario’s provincial detention centres are generally the place to which convicts are sent when they are sentenced to “two years, less a day” or less. Those sentenced to longer periods are sent to federal penitentiaries. You might think that those getting two years less a day (or less) are only those people who do non-violent, relatively innocuous things like failing to pay fine. Not so. The list of people who are sentenced to serve two years less a day (or less) include child sexual predators, thieves, rapists, and other violent offenders.
Third, Ontario already has a voluntary program for some convicts in provincial detention centres, but it is not available to dangerous criminals. It is available only to a small group of non-violent offenders (e.g., white collar criminals). It gives disgraced former paper-pushers a chance to get out of their cells for a while. The rest of the inmates are kept securely behind bars for the duration of their stay. Tim Hudak is proposing to alter that program. He somehow thinks it’s a good idea to put all offenders – violent or non-violent, child molesters and rapists, etc. – into your neighbourhood to pick up litter and remove graffiti. He wants to make it mandatory for all convicts to get out and stretch their legs and catch a few rays in your neighbourhood. That’s about 8,488 convicts roaming Ontario’s neighbourhoods every day.
Fourth, as a special bonus – lucky you! – Hudak is going to charge you additional taxpayer dollars to release these criminal offenders into your neighbourhood. In 2006 dollars, the annual cost of a convict housed in a provincial detention centre was approximately $52,000.00. Inflation (at 3% or higher per annum) brings the 2011 figure to about $60,000 per annum. Hudak yesterday said that his give-convicts-a-walk-in-the-park plan would cost as much as an extra $20M per year: a 5% increase in the cost of corrections. That means that, under the Tim Hudak Progressive Conservative proposal, putting these creeps into your neighbourhood will cost you almost $3,000.00 more, per creep, every year, than it would cost you to keep them locked up safely behind bars, far away from you, your children, and your property.
It is too easy to let ones dislike of Dalton McGuinty cloud ones perception of exactly what Tim Hudak is proposing. Let us put a human face to this, so that you can really understand just how stupid Hudak’s proposal is:
- If you choose to fill vacant Liberal seats with Tim Hudak’s PCs, Tim Hudak will charge you just $3,000.00 extra to put a disgraced priest such as Donald Grecco into your neighbourhood: Grecco “would offer the altar boys odd jobs or take them on trips. Once alone with them, he would initiate “play-fights” that would escalate into the parish priest sexually grinding against the victim”.
- If you choose to fill vacant Liberal seats with Tim Hudak’s PCs, Hudak will charge you just $3,000.00 extra to put a violent offender like Darrell Wayne Connell into your neighbourhood: Connell struck Ken Gottfried, who lost consciousness and fell to the sidewalk where he struck his head, and suffered a brain injury that has left him partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair or walking short distances with a cane.
- If you choose to fill vacant Liberal seats with Tim Hudak’s PCs, Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives will charge you just $3,000.00 more to have Michael Alexander Wood pick up litter and accompany you or your female partner during her jog through your local park: his victim awoke to find him having sex with her.
Are these really the kinds of people you want to allow out of their cells and into your neighbourhood? If you still think “maybe”, consider this: Hudak also explained, yesterday, that he does not envision that these criminals will be chained while they work. How comforting. And should we expect bullets to fly when one of these model citizens decides to make a run for it and hide in our children’s tree houses?
If Tim Hudak’s announced proposal today buys him any votes at all it’s a sad day for Ontario. Political power should never be obtained by making over-taxed taxpayers pay even more, and by increasing the risk that they or their loved ones will be exposed to harm. Ontario deserves a focus on reducing taxes, not increasing them; a focus on increasing safety, not on needlessly exposing our neighbourhoods to violent or sexual offenders.
None of this is to suggest that the Liberals deserve to keep their seats. They don’t. But the last thing Ontario needs is to replace a red set of out-of-touch, spendthrift, interest-group pandering, political opportunists with a blue set.
Paul McKeever is the Leader of the Freedom Party of Ontario, and is the 2011 Freedom Party candidate in the provincial riding of Elgin-Middlesex-London.