scales of justice

How Do Canada and the United States Differ Politically? (Part 3)

scales of justice

This is only my opinion, and not the representation of Saintel Daily, LLC.

As I said in Part 1, the legal systems in Canada and the United States are pretty much the same.  How? Well, they are both based on the same system.  The difference being is that the incarceration rate in the United States is about 5 times as high as that in Canada.  I wonder why that is?  Let’s keep in mind that neither system is perfect, but it’s safe to say that the incarceration rate in Canada has stayed about the same over the last 30 years.  Here’s the big difference: the United States has privatized prisons, which means, more prisoners will yield greater profits.

Are private prisons the way to go? They are, in theory, a practical solution to what is kind of a hairy problem.  In the United States, there are too many prisoners and not enough prisons, so the solution is more prisons. But is it?  One might argue that perhaps the punishments don’t reflect the crimes.  In fact, we’re seeing more and more cases of non-violent offenders, being charged and then sentenced to really long terms.  In some cases, it’s a first-time offense, so why literally throw the book at this person?  Well, in the United States, the prisons make money based on the number of people incarcerated. So if they can cram five more people into an overcrowded prison, that’s what they will do, in order to make money. So yes – in theory – these are a practical solution, but it’s not really solving the problem itself.

In Canada, as of July 1, marijuana will be “legalized”.  While that term may not exactly describe what this law will do, it’s interesting nonetheless.  In the United States, people are getting incarcerated for having a small amount of marijuana on them, but in Canada, it’s now going to be allowed – within some boundaries.  That said, is it the answer?  I think it’s going to help keep people out of prison for having a small amount of marijuana.  But will there be a bunch of stoned hippies walking around the streets of Toronto?  I mean, there already are.  They just won’t go to prison for it now.

prisons

While I’m not saying that legalizing marijuana is the solution, I do think Canada might be on the right track with this one.  Since the prisons are run publicly, instead of putting the decisions in the hands of judges as to how many people they incarcerate, the Canadian Government is taking away the decision altogether.  Sure, there are still laws against the use of marijuana, but again, not for these small petty instances that we see people getting locked up over in the United States all the time.  Again, rather than trying to override the system, they changed it completely.

I think that the for-profit model in the United States puts this judicial responsibility into the hands of a private corporation – indirectly.  And while the likes of Donald Trump are on board with this kind of arrangement, it doesn’t seem to be helping overall.  That’s not to say that the Canadian system is perfect, but when you look at the number of incarcerations, even from a percentage perspective, the United States has far higher instances.