OTTAWA, Ont. – The head of Canada’s federal corrections system said he would be required to spend approximately $2 billion in order to deal with the influx of prisoners coming from the Conservative government’s law-and-order agenda.
“The primary impact of the legislation will be a significant and sustained increase to the federal offender population over time,” said Don Head, commissioner of Correctional Service Canada.
“This will be particularly evident in the short to medium-term,” he told reporters.
Head said the laws would result in 4,478 extra people kept in federal prisons across the country through to late 2013, in addition to a regular growth in the prison population.
The numbers would require the hiring of thousands of additional staff members, and a renovation and expansion of each prison.
Moreover, Head said programs would be needed to help prisoners cope with the crowding, as double-bunking often leads to violence and discontent, according to experts.
To add to the difficulties, he explained that federal prisons are increasingly becoming homes for those who are mentally ill, and employees are struggling to handle the new dynamic.
“Unfortunately we have become the default mental-health system in the country,” he said.
The $2 billion estimate from Head is lower than costs projected by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, but is much higher than initial estimates from federal ministers.