Even Texas Says Harper’s Crime Bill Won’t Work

Since their election to a “strong, stable” majority government in May, the Harper government has set about taking care of all the business they vowed to take care of for the last five years: dismantling the gun registry that was established in the wake of a massacre, maintaining corporate tax cuts and building expensive prisons in order to fill them with the perpetrators of a vast wave of unreported crimes. (We’ll leave alone for a moment the question of how you can justify building prisons for crimes we don’t know about.)

There’s only one problem with building the prisons: Texas has already done it. And they’re telling Stephen Harper that chucking people in prison doesn’t work.

Within the last 10 years, Texas had the highest incarceration rate in the world. One out of every twenty residents of the state was involved in the penal system at any given time, whether they were incarcerated, on probation or on parole.† Texas also executes more criminals than any other state in the USA.† Texas was tough on crime. And yet, despite this? The crime rate in Texas fell far more slowly than it did in the rest of the US across three decades. The costs of being “tough on crime” were just getting higher, but Texans weren’t really any safer. And the money was running out.

So Texas took a long, hard look at whether or not chucking people in prison was really having the intended effect. They discovered that Texas had diverted money from drug treatment programs in order to build prisons — yet, offenders who participated in drug treatment programs were far less likely to reoffend than those who simply went to prison. So Texas changed their approach. Instead of building yet more prisons, they spent less than 1/4 of what they would have spent there and filtered it in to drug treatment programs instead. Costs fell. Crime fell. And Texans realized the error of their ways.

Now, they’re trying to tell Stephen Harper not to make the same mistakes.

“You will spend billions and billions and billions on locking people up,” says Judge John Creuzot on the Dallas County Court. “And there will come a point in time where the public says, ‘Enough!’ And you’ll wind up letting them out.”

Republican Representative Jerry Madden, the head of the Texas House Committee on Corrections, says “It’s a very expensive thing to build new prisons and, if you build ‘em, I guarantee you they will come. They’ll be filled, OK? Because people will send them there.”

“But, if you don’t build ‘em, they will come up with very creative things to do that keep the community safe and yet still do the incarceration necessary.”

Let’s get this straight: Even Texas is saying Harper’s Crime Bill won’t work.

Will Harper listen?

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Canada Has Voted and It Isnít Pretty: Conservative Majority


Photo Credit: MikeCogh on Flickr.


Marjaana V.
marjaana v6 years ago

well, we have one pro-profit superjail a couple of hrs north of toronto.

it's understaffed, the prisoners are locked in most of the time, the food is minimal and of poor quality. at least two inmates have died from negligence - one from an infected cut on his FINGER!

it's managed from.... minnesota, i think.

harper is aN ABSOLUTE MENACE TO THIS COUNTRY! [damn caps are stuck again...]

Avery Ecklein
Avery Ecklein6 years ago

In Canada, only federal government can pass crime-related laws. In USA, both states and federal governments can pass crime bill. So, states has power to pass crime-related bill provinces does not have.

Todd K.
Todd K6 years ago

Anyone who didn't understand what Emperor Harperius Mandatorius Minimus meant when he said "You're not going to recognize Canada when I'm through with it..." well, you threw the dice...now it's time to learn what unthinking results in.

Canada is turning into a mini-USA at an exponential rate. Our health care has been whittled down, our education has been eroded for decades, our food/nutrient quality is pathetic, our jobs are being shipped to everywhere on the planet but the USA (they need jobs even worse than we do!), and whenever you hear about a problem in the USA, you can be damned sure it's coming soon to Canada if they haven't found a way to import it already.

Luckily for the bankers and politicians, the people simply refuse to look at reality and THINK ABOUT WHAT IT REALLY MEANS long enough to understand what's really going on.

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

OMG Texas saying a right wing plan didn't work!

Dominic C.
Dominic C6 years ago

Stephen Harper only wants to prepare an inevitable population increase sent from the Courts. The Canadians do have one of the better and civilized criminal justice systems in the world. I think we should not be overly concerned with Harper's comments. Canada does have many alternatives to imprisonment and the Courts have been very rational about the way sentencing goes. Perhaps politicians do have a way they frame their statements but definitely Canada need to build prison systems perhaps to alleviate overcrowding, better classification systems and better run penal methodologies. I am sure Harper is clear about having lock prisoners up and throw away the keys.

Its laughable that Texas wanted to mention about criminal sentencing since Texas itself is priding itself as a state with the highest execution rate in the development world apart from Japan. Anytime today I still preferred Harper's crime bill than that of any politico suggestions from Texas.

Jim Gayden
Jim Gayden6 years ago

George B. says "The only way to lower the rate of crime is...". I will have to challenge your solution, and say that there is so much criticism everywhere, from an early age. That is what needs to be addressed. We need to make life more liveable, and equal for everyone. If people are happier to be alive, then chances are they won't even consider turning to crime as an alternative. Of course there will always be those who want to condemn everyone for every reason. Sociopaths like those (possibly you also) are the ones who need to be dealt with in the way that you suggest, until we can discover a healthy, positive way to deal with these people.

Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

A lot of the 'duh' factor here....

Geoffrey Y.
Geoffrey Y6 years ago

"The costs of being 'tough on crime' were just getting higher" - it is real, but out society cannot let our moral standard fall because everyone who is no a crime is part of us. Cost effective is one to way to go but cost of living should be adjusted to a forwardable. In other words, the society and individile should know how to "de-leverage" if already leveraged; should adjust living standard to "normal". I see North Amercian is no doing well in social/moral balance. Resession is good those who are not accountable to their own moral or social stantands.

Winn Adams
Winn A6 years ago


Marg Wood
Marg W6 years ago

I miss Jack Layton he was one in a million! He was 10 times the man Harper is.