A report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer of Canada has estimated that the impact of new legislation for sentencing prisoners will result in major spending on new correctional facilities.
The government passed the Truth in Sentencing Act last year and it came into effect in February. The new laws means that judges can no longer give convicted individuals credit for time spent in prison before they were put on trial and sentenced. Previously it has been common for judges to allow prisoners “2-for-1” or “3-for-1” credit days for time spent. In other words, if a prisoner spent 1 day incarcerated before trial and sentencing, then his sentence would be credited by 2 or 3 days for that time. Now the prisoner is only credited with 1 day, or 1 and 1/2 day in special circumstances.
As a result prisoners will be spending more time in prisons, and so Canada will need more prisons to accommodate them.
The authors of the report for the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimate that about $1.8 billion over five years will need to be spent on building new prisons over the next five years. Another $618 million a year would be needed for lifecycle capital expenditures and operations and maintenance.
Authors Ashutosh Rajekar, B.Eng. and Ramnarayanan Mathilakath, say that their report is only a “preliminary set of data for discussion,” since it is based on limited data made available to them by Correctional Service of Canada.
Using 2007-08 figures as a baseline, they estimated that the “Truth in Sentencing Act” will increase the number of inmates from approximately 13,300 to over 17,000.
They say that the increased prison population will either require measures such as more double-bunking, or additional construction of two low-security facilities, 6 medium security facilities, four high security facilities and 1 multi-level security facilities.
The Parliamentary Budget Office is mandated by the Federal Accountability Act to provide independent analysis to he Senate and House of Commons on the state of Canada’s finances, the government’s estimates and trends in the national economy.
To see the report, click here.