Judge Barry Stuart on Bill C-10

Away from the river and up the hill they've built a new prison, twice as big as the old one, all set to open in a few weeks just as the Harper government moves closer to bringing in a new crime bill that will impose tougher minimum sentences. Advocates for restorative justice, especially as it is practiced here in the North, worry the changes under Bill C-10 will backfire.



Today The Current was broadcast out of Whitehorse.

Part One of The Current

Satire

It's Wednesday, January 11th.

Syrian President Bashar Assad promises to crush what he calls a "foreign conspiracy" to undermine his rule.

Currently, the foreigners may look and act exactly like ordinary Syrians ... that's all part of the conspiracy.

This is The Current.

Judge Barry Stuart on Bill C-10

With the expectation that the Conservatives' Safe Streets and Communities Act- bill C10 - which is before the senate now - will become law soon, many groups have called for a reexamination of this government's approach to crime and punishment.
Concerns about overpopulation, under-funded programs, and overly punitive sentencing guidelines, have all been heard during the debate.

Advocates for restorative justice solutions say that the new laws will only increase crime and make our streets less safe - rather than safer. Jim Campbell knows first hand what becomes of a person who spends his life in and out of prison. And he knows how effective alternative solutions can be. Jim Campbell lives in Whitehorse, Yukon.

In Whitehorse, as in the rest of the country, the jails and prisons are disproportionately filled with Aboriginal inmates. Judges consider a person's aboriginal background and circumstances when they hand down a sentence. Often those include residential school abuse or substance abuse. But the new laws will make any kind of alternative sentencing more restrictive.

Judge Barry Stuart spent 25 years in Yukon making those decisions and he's waiting to see what kind of impact C-10 will have - especially when it comes to Aboriginal offenders. He was also the first judge to bring Circle Sentencing to Canada, as a way of involving the community in justice. He has since became well known as a supporter of alternative justice. Judge Barry Stuart joined us from Vancouver.