The Canadian Government has proposed that the cost of applying for a pardon be raised to $631, after only recently raising it from $50 to $150. Some people feel that those who commit crimes should have to pay for their own rehabilitation, whereas others feel that if getting a Canadian pardon proves too difficult or expensive, many will never be rehabilitated.
Quite interesting is the fact that, for pardoning criminal records, the price is under debate at the same time as the general requirements: Is the pardons process strict enough, or should it be made more difficult?
This raises two important questions for discussion:
Raise the price? The Government claims it would offset the cost to the taxpayer – a claim that defies logic to some degree. Consider that taxpayers’ money is used to administer the justice system. Raising the cost of a pardon – and quite significantly - would prove obtaining a pardon prohibitive for many, most likely because their criminal records are currently preventing them from becoming gainfully employed. Not being gainfully employed results in the individual NOT being able to contribute to the public purse, and in some cases actually taking more away from it by relying on some form of public assistance. These people want to work. They are willing to pay taxes. Why stop them?
Make the process more difficult? One might well wonder what end this would serve. Take economics out of the equation. People who are legally entitled to receive a criminal pardon and are well rehabilitated or certainly have learned their lesson should not be further tripped up with another stumbling block. These are people who are working hard and are contributing members of society. The Canadian pardon process is already fair and effective, although it requires accuracy and thoroughness both on the part of the Parole Board of Canada and the applicant. Many people seek the assistance of Client Specialists to assure accuracy & thoroughness to better guarantee success with their application. But why make the process more complicated? A person who is working hard at life and contributing to society is not planning crimes. Do they really need more paperwork in Ottawa?
Because the spectrum of crime in Canada is so great, the likelihood of the average person knowing and/or associating with someone who has a criminal record is actually very high. Many everyday people have a minor conviction along with a criminal record. Most of these convictions are usually the result of a lapse of better judgment rather than an outright strategic criminal endeavor.
To make pardons more expensive or more difficult to obtain would be harsh and counterproductive to the average person.
Ultimately it will take more money away from the Government through lost future employment taxes than is collected from a one-time increased application fee. Rather than serving as a significant deterrent to the intended criminal, it hinders the productive rehabilitated individuals and looks more like an immediate, non-logical cash grab by the Government.