In principle, an offender is presumed to be rehabilitated once his time has been served. However, the reality is that our prisons have an almost flawless record of failure in this area. Treatment and rehabilitation, more effective and less expensive recourses, are being superseded by the government’s choosing to impose harsher sentences for relatively benign crimes and making it increasingly difficult to obtain a pardon for one’s past wrongs.
Truly, parts of the Conservative government’s omnibus crime bill make a great deal of sense, such as stiffer sentences for violent offenders and mandatory minimums for child sex offenders. However, provisions included in the new laws about pardons, along with these commendable steps, make it unacceptable and diametrically opposed to the most critical purpose of our justice system – the rehabilitation and reintegration of criminals into society and crime prevention.
New laws about pardons resulting from the bill are causing people to ask whether we are becoming a society that extinquishes hope instead of fostering it. The government’s new legislation on pardons in Canada favours incarceration and punishment over treatment and rehabilitation.
Conservatives have been pitted against almost everyone else in coverage of the debate surrounding this bill. Although the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper espouses many of the values that conservatives uphold, policies remain that cause significant rifts, both moral and philosophical, within the party. Many Tories did not vote for the rigorous, severe, and misguided measures in this backward-thinking legislation.
Proposed legislation for a criminal pardon will make it disproportionately difficult to obtain a pardon, which is the only means by which an ex-offender can remove the stigma of a criminal record and move on with life. One of the true measures of society is how it treats those who have made mistakes and paid for their errors, made restitution for their crimes.
Moreover, since those who have served time are more likely to re-offend when released, the bill’s provisions to increase incarceration for what are presently minor offences will only serve to create more of the recidivist offenders the bill is attempting to combat.
Fortunately, there is a course of action for anyone with a criminal record who sincerely wishes to make a new start. One can remove that criminal record by obtaining a record suspension. Pardon Services Canada will handle the entire process, assuring you of results. Call 1-8-NOW-PARDON (1-866-972-7366) to speak with a Client Specialist.