Think California!

Even if we don’t accept the overwhelming evidence that crime rates are lowest in countries that promote restorative justice and highest in the tough-on-crime United States, the public cost of tough-on-crime legislation is indisputable.
California is the poster child for tough-on-crime gone wrong! Between the three-strike rule and the privatization of the prison system, California has figured out how to bankrupt itself.
Under the three-strike rule, if you’ve been convicted three times, you’re on your way to jail. Three DUIs (driving under the influence) or three marijuana possessions means jail time.
In restorative justice jurisdictions, three DUIs would get your driving privileges suspended for a lengthy time period and a recognition that possession of marijuana isn’t the problem, it’s the criminal element behind production and sales.
The privatization of prisons and enactment of the three-strike rule has been a financial bonanza for a select few corporate buddies in California.
Because there is only a single payer, California taxpayers, it is simply a non-risk, state-sponsored corporate handout of mammoth proportions funded through an ever-increasing government deficit.
In prison systems there are no paying customers. We don’t send an invoice to the prisoner or his family. Quite frankly, what are we going to do to them if they don’t pay, release them?
In a true market economy, private businesses create opportunities to offer products or services. If they mismanage or don’t attract paying customers they won’t stay in business. It’s their risk and reward.
To be successful, private businesses eliminate or better the competition, increase their customers and profit.
In Canada, we’ve also ran up the government deficit by adding tough-on-crime legislation while adhering to balanced budgets and low taxes simultaneously.
The former Alberta government balanced their books often on the backs of the civil service. In the case of our criminal justice system, there has been a hiring freeze on crown prosecutors, court clerks and judges since 2006.
As a consequence, in the last four months more than 100 criminal cases were stayed in Edmonton and Calgary including fraud over $5,000, break and enter, vehicle theft, carrying a concealed weapon, trafficking in stolen property and DUIs.
Our courts are missing mandatory deadlines for hearing cases because they don’t have enough staff.
The provincial ND government just announced an investment of $14.5 million to hire 50 new crown prosecutors and 30 support staff to stop the hemorrhaging.
On CBC radio, Damien Rogers, an executive member of the Alberta Crown Attorney’s Association, said court dates have been cancelled simply because there were no court clerks available.
Balancing books through hiring freezes (not replacing retired or departing employees), and infrastructure deficits was nothing more than “fool’s accounting” to trick the voting public.
This judicial mess has been more than 10 years in the making and will not be turned around with a mere $14.5 million investment.
The criminal justice system has lots of inefficiencies and could be improved in so many ways, but freezing jobs of crown prosecutors, court clerks and judges is equivalent to shutting down the ice machines in a curling rink to save money.
Short-term ruses by governments always turn out poorly in the long-run for individuals and society as a whole.
The California lesson is a great example of what should not be done in a market driven economy.
Privatization needs paying customers! Not government corporate handouts!

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