Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
According to the Auditor General of Canada's 2001 report, the federal government spends somewhere between $404 and $426 million on the fight against drugs: the RCMP receives $164 million; the Correctional Service of Canada receives $157 million; the Department of Justice, $70 million; and Health Canada, $8 million. Actually, Health Canada receives $15 million for this field of endeavour and allocates more than half of this funding to the analysis of drugs seized by the police—$5 million—and the administration of legislation that deals with drug use—$2 million. As for the remaining $7 million, more than half goes to the RCMP for its drug awareness programs. In comparison with these amounts, $28 million is allocated to prevention and treatment, including the $4 million that the RCMP receives for prevention. In all, 5% of the funding goes to prevention and treatment, while 95% goes to enforcement. In addition to the federal government's expenditures on enforcement, we must consider expenditures by the provincial governments and the municipalities. All in all, the grand total is somewhere between $700 million and one billion dollars per year for Canadians, according to the Nolin report.
With the Canadian government's new National Anti-Drug Strategy, which began on October 4, 2007, we still find the same proportions. Of the $590 million allocated to this strategy, $60 million is for prevention and treatment, but one portion is allocated to the RCMP, for prevention, and another portion is for drug-treatment courts. And for those who don't see any problem with these last items, at best this means that 90% of the funding goes to enforcement and 10% is for enforcement and treatment.
Thus, Bill is in keeping with this desire to focus on enforcement as an anti-drug strategy, a strategy that is useful in political terms, but totally pointless in terms of health promotion and reducing problem drug use, as multiple studies have shown. In this presentation, I will be focusing on three aspects of Bill C-15: the results of assessments of the effect of minimum sentences for drug offences that show that these minimum sentences are ineffective, the role of drug-treatment courts, which remain a very limited solution, and our international obligations, which in no way justify these enforcement-based strategies.
Minimum sentences for drug offences were first assessed in the 1970s in the United States. The experience of the State of New York is worth looking at for a few moments, because it is a good example of these minimum sentences' results.
Between 1973 and 1976, the State of New York was the American state with the harshest drug legislation owing to the establishment of minimum sentences, a strategy that cost millions of dollars. The objective of the policy was to reduce the consumption of illicit drugs and trafficking in illicit drugs throughout the state, and to reduce the level of property crime associated with drug use. This strategy was established against the advice of all the stakeholders in society, and even against the advice of the New York police.
In actual fact, in 1971 the New York police observed that efforts to arrest drug dealers nearly always resulted in the arrests of low-level dealers and that no matter which drug dealers were arrested, new dealers would take their place immediately and there would be no effect on the illegal drug market. To save the resources that were being wasted, the police recommended greater investments in drug awareness programs and health programs, which would do far more to reduce problem drug use. But politicians refused to implement this advice, because this kind of tough-on-drugs strategy was very popular with the electorate.
The New York Bar Association then asked for a study assessing the affect of these new measures. This study was conducted over three years, and was a joint effort by the Drug Abuse Council and the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.
After three years of assessing the program, what did the two institutions conclude?
First of all, no reduction in drug consumption or drug trafficking was recorded in the state.
Secondly, despite the injection of more than $100 million to set up new courts for drug offences, the courts were still overcrowded. They were not overcrowded because of an increase in arrests or charges. On the contrary, arrests and charges had dropped considerably over the period of time, because the police were hesitant to make arrests in many cases, because they thought that the person might receive an overly harsh sentence. The courts were overcrowded because of the lawyers. Because the sentences were so harsh, lawyers advised their clients not to plead guilty to avoid a court appearance. Then the lawyers would use everything at their disposal to delay the trial, hoping that the proceedings would be dropped or that there would be a trial before jury.
Third, because the courts were so crowded, public prosecutors did drop many cases. In other cases, thanks to plea bargaining between the prosecution and the defence, the sentences were one year, the minimum under the act. As a result, there were no more prison sentences than there had been in the past.
In 1976, the state of New York had to relax its drug laws so as to reduce the overcrowding in the courts. This crackdown on crime over three years was a political act that may have won some votes, but cost a great deal in terms of overcrowded courts, and what's more, the initiative had absolutely no effect on problem consumption of the illegal drugs or even on drug trafficking.
People thought that this evaluation would put an end to claims that harsher measures were effective and would reduce the problem use of illegal drugs, or even drug trafficking. All efforts had been made to carry out this evaluation, and millions of dollars had been spent to implement this tougher approach. Not only was this punitive approach shown to be pointless, but also, the citizens of New York State had to spend millions of dollars on this political spectacle, which did nothing to reduce the violence that they could be subject to in certain neighbourhoods.
And yet, the punitive approach continues to go along its merry way in the United States, and as we speak, one person is arrested every 20 seconds for a drug offence.
Minimum sentences that require judges to jail drug dealers, longer sentences and tens of thousands of more arrests provide the media with ample material and provide the enforcement bureaucracies with endless work, representing investments of billions of dollars; but these billions of dollars could be allocated to poverty reduction, prevention and treatment. Many people who have analyzed America's get-tough-on-drugs policy have said that the war on drugs is really a war being waged on the poor. As the studies continue to show, even though the United States has the harshest anti-drug measures, it remains the western country with the highest rates of consumption and a flourishing illicit market, with the less fortunate in society paying the price of these tough measures.
One must remember that of the total amount of drugs on the illegal market, very little is intercepted: between 5% and 10%, according to various police estimates. It's not that the police aren't trying or that they lack resources, but rather, it is impossible to restrict such a huge business, where anything goes in order to keep this market afloat, owing to the huge amounts of money at stake. As General Viviani said, “Even if the police and the military devoted themselves solely to efforts to halt the drug trade, from production to retail sales, they would only manage to drive up drug prices”, or just shift the places where drugs are sold, the means of production and the product being sold. In fact, the prohibition on drugs and efforts to crack down on drugs ensure that the black market is a prosperous one.
Subsequent studies to assess the impact of minimum sentences for drug offences have only confirmed these results. Furthermore, other studies have clearly shown that there was no link, no matter what country the study was done in, between the rates of illegal drug consumption and the severity of sentences. In other words, the rates of consumption of various illicit drugs go up and go down, with no link to an increase or decrease in the severity of sentences. And when someone is wanting to buy drugs, there's always someone to sell him drugs.
The same thing holds true in prison. The consumers and the sellers are locked up, and we have a market. But in this particular case, given the conditions under which illegal drugs are consumed, the public health costs, both for inmates and the general population when they get out, are very high. I won't go into any greater detail about the public health costs because I think that the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network did testify before this committee on this matter.
In the 1994 Cain report, J.V. Cain, who at the time was British Columbia's Chief Coroner, responsible for investigating the rise in fatal heroin overdoses in that province, recognized that for most people, problems related to illicit drugs should first and foremost come under the authority of the police and the courts. People have this perception because they hold two beliefs, explained Mr. Cain: first of all, that prison is a good way of doing away with these problems; and secondly, fear of a jail sentence is a good deterrent. In his report, he explained that these beliefs are mistaken. On one hand, it is easy to obtain drugs in prison, and some inmates even began using hard drugs while they were behind bars. On the other hand, the prison environment tends to exclude people from society, rather than encouraging them to take up more balanced social and personal activities that would lead to the person enjoying better quality of life. All in all, prison is not a good place to solve drug problems nor is it an effective deterrent. Not only that, but our prisons make it easier for people to have personal contact with members of drug dealing networks once they are back on the street. Actually, prisons are places where people learn how to be criminals and their criminal activities continue within the “old boys' network”.
These conclusions from the Cain report were echoed in reports by various committees in Canada and the United States. These conclusions also raised the fact that all too often, we tend to forget about the costs associated with the families of inmates and the fact that the people who are mainly covered by these measures were among the less fortunate in society. Considering the reversal of the onus of proof that is provided for in clause 10, we know who will have the money to pay for the lawyers needed to provide that proof.
My second point is very short. It's about drug-treatment courts. The latest trend, once again from the United States, is to establish specialized drug courts that would replace imprisonment with mandatory treatment for some users. The first court of this type in Canada was established in Toronto in 1998.
Thank you very much, and thank you for inviting us today.
I have Staff Sergeant Pierre Gauthier with me, as well as the NCOIC of the drug section for the Ottawa Police Service.
From our police service perspective there are a number of areas where we believe the legislation is important, particularly when it comes to attacking criminal organizations that are involved in the distribution of drugs. Secondly, it's important in any case where it's school-related or it gives a police service the opportunity to try to defend those we see as most vulnerable: young people at school grounds. Again, it's an opportunity for us to attack criminal organizations or drug traffickers who decide to participate in drug distribution at that level.
Lastly, where weapons are involved, particularly when we're dealing with the number of gang activities across this country today--particularly in the city, where, as you heard last week, we have criminal organizations and street gangs that are involved both in drug distribution and in gun and gang activity--we believe it would help the community understand the seriousness of it and at the same time allow the police to take on the challenge of organized crime in this country. We believe that anything less would be foolhardy on our part.
We do believe that minimum sentences in relation to the charges or the offences identified in this legislation would assist us while at the same time focusing on community safety and making more serious the offences that are committed, for example, near schools or where criminal organizations use young people to commit their crimes.
We're very pleased to see the consideration of drug treatment court and drug treatment as alternatives to immediate incarceration. We do have some challenges in this city, in this province, in this country, around capacity. I can tell you, to get into drug treatment in Ottawa right now, on average it's about seven months from notification. We believe there needs to be some serious federal acceptance of responsibility in increasing funding when it comes to drug treatment. At the same time, we do accept that it's not something that will be solved overnight.
In this city we have focused our efforts on high-level drug trafficking from criminal organizations--and have been successful, to a degree--as well as on low-level trafficking where street crime has been influenced as a result of low-level trafficking. We have a street crime unit that has been very successful in attacking some parts of the city where we have seen a dramatic increase in street crime as a result of the purchase and utilization of crack cocaine, for example, particularly in the market, just blocks from here.
Again, we want to identify the need to focus on distribution where the criminal organizations are involved, but we need as well to focus on drug treatment and drug court options. We believe this legislation would allow us at least a beginning, a start in attacking some of those areas.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
I'm Eric Sterling. In 1986 I was in the situation you are in, considering legislation to adopt mandatory minimum sentences being considered by the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress.
I commend you for what you're doing, which is to make a very careful examination of the issue, because what we did in 1986 was done in a great deal of haste. One of our collegiate basketball stars died in June. A few weeks later the Speaker of the House of Representatives, from Boston, Tip O'Neill, called the Democrats together to organize a political response to that tragic death, and he wanted legislation reported within one month.
We were working on money laundering and other issues, and in the last three days before the August recess the idea of mandatory minimums was developed. It came out of my word processor, and it is probably the greatest mistake of my entire career of over 30 years in the practice of law.
So I commend what you're doing. I also commend your legislation. The mandatory minimums that you're proposing--periods such as one year, two years, or three years--are nothing like the periods in the American legislation. Our mandatory minimums are five years, ten years, fifteen years, and twenty years, depending upon the circumstances.
I'll note that your mandatory minimums are for offences that, as I understand it, carry terms of imprisonment of up to life, and there's a way in which the message you're sending seems to be confusing and inconsistent. If these are circumstances in which a judge might impose a sentence of up to life imprisonment, then a mandatory minimum sentence of only a year or two seems to me, in some sense, inconsistent and confusing to judges.
If you are considering the American experience, I'll simply note a few things. Our experience has been ineffective. An earlier witness spoke today about the ineffectiveness of New York's mandatory minimums. The American mandatory minimums have been completely ineffective in reducing the availability of drugs to our youth. Studies that have been done have shown that the perception of the ready availability of drugs to our youth has changed very little, if at all.
Since 1986 the prices that are charged by the drug traffickers have gone down dramatically. I'll take as an example the retail price of heroin. In 1986 it was $1,352 U.S. per gram. The most recent data from the DEA in 2003 was that it was down to $362, so a decline of almost 75%, from $1,352 down to $362. At the same time, the purity at the retail level increased from an average of 24% to an average of 32% in 2003. And those trends have gotten worse, according to things I've heard from DEA more recently.
The same thing is true with cocaine. In 1986 the price of a gram of pure cocaine was a little less than $300. By 2003 it was a little more than $100, and the purity had gone from 56% on average to 70% on average. This is data from the DEA, compiled by our White House drug czar's office.
This is not evidence of any kind of success.
Our federal prison population has grown from 36,000 prisoners in 1986 to 203,000 prisoners as of the end of March--a very dramatic increase--and over 100,000 of those prisoners are there only on drug charges. So that's a tremendous increase in our prison capacity.
Of course, a lot of what we're trying to do has symbolic character. I suspect your committee has heard about the message you might be sending to youth, that we're taking the problem very seriously, the message you want to send to drug traffickers and prospective criminals. Let me suggest the average drug trafficker is not paying any attention to what you're saying. They don't read the records of your debates. They in fact probably do not know the law. They barely pay attention to the newspapers or watch the news of your debate on television. They're not getting the message and they really don't care.
They're not long-term planners. They're not like men and women who are thinking about a career in politics, who look five, ten, fifteen, twenty years down the road for what kind of a career they can have, from city council to provincial legislature to Parliament in Ottawa. These are people who operate on the short term. They're highly impulsive, and they're not making the kinds of calculations you might make and that would be reasonable to make. The message you're intending is to an audience that is not paying attention and doesn't know how to even comprehend the message you think you're sending.
I encourage you to look very carefully at what these measures are going to cost, and to think very hard about whether or not they will be effective.
I yield the balance of my time and I anticipate your questions at the conclusion of all the statements. Thank you very much.
I'm honoured to appear before the committee on these important deliberations. I will try to add something that I hope you haven't already covered in the deliberations so far.
I'm very, very serious about drug addiction. The last 40 years of my career as a psychologist have been spent doing research and treatment work in the field of drug addiction. Indeed, I think of it as a scourge. I've heard that word used in the introduction to the bill, and it makes a certain sense to me. I think drug addiction is very serious, and I look to the federal government hopefully for guidance and leadership in dealing with this important problem.
However, I see Bill as a big mistake, and I'd like to say why. I have three points to cover. One has to do with mandatory minimum sentences. The second has to do with pushing or coercing people into treatment for fear of mandatory minimum sentences. The third has to do with the theory that underlies the bill.
First I will address mandatory minimums. I think a lot has been said about the American experience, which I think is very important. However, I think the more important experience is the Canadian experience, and we have a long history of mandatory minimum sentences. I'm not even sure if everybody knows this, because it hasn't been spoken of much. Many Canadians have forgotten that mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences were built into Canadian drug law during the last century, when Canada reached its historical peak of being tough on drug crime.
Successive amendments to Canada's Opium and Narcotic Drug Act, originally passed in 1920, allowed a fearsomely punitive instrument into existence by 1950. The amended law allowed for long sentences—some of them mandatory—and it also allowed whipping for convicted offenders at the discretion of judges, and deportation of drug offenders who were not citizens. Police could legally break into suspected drug users' homes without warrants and wreck the interiors in their search for drugs. Police could legally damage individual suspects as well, by choking and punching them hard enough to disgorge any drugs they may have swallowed to avoid detection. In fact, several people were eventually searched to death in this way.
My point here is that Canada has a very long history of getting tough in drug laws. It culminated in the 1950s, when the utter failure of this extraordinarily punitive regime in Canadian drug-law enforcement had become evident. In the 1950s, panicky headlines in Vancouver and across Canada warned of a growing crime wave, which was attributed to drug addicts, and warned of the recruitment of juveniles into heroin addiction and of the terrible sufferings of drug addicts. History repeats itself. Vancouver's skid row, now the downtown east side, was said to house 2,000 addicts in the 1950s—a large number. In fact, that was one for every 250 inhabitants of the city. Maclean's magazine said in those days that at the current rate of growth, there would soon be one junkie for every 16 inhabitants of Vancouver.
My point is that there is no reason to suppose that mandatory minimums or any kind of getting tough policy is going to work better now than it worked in the previous cycle of getting tough, based on the Canadian experience. We do not need to rely on the American experience.
My second point has to do with forcing convicted drug users into treatment. I'm a psychologist, and I've done treatment. Most of my friends do treatment. And all of us, I think, will agree that it's a very bad idea. Again, I will discuss this by reference to Canada's history.
By the 1970s, treatment for drug addiction—which had only a small place in Canada's response to the addiction problem prior to World War II—had grown into a major enterprise. We're now talking about the 1970s.
The psychological and psychiatric profession had flourished in the decades following World War II, and virtually all of their new treatments were tried on drug addicts and alcoholics. There was so much money for treatment that the federal government built an entire prison—the Matsqui Institution, near Vancouver—in 1966 as a centre for treating drug-addicted prisoners. The newest group therapy and therapeutic community methods were the centrepieces of treatment at Matsqui. The prisoners were also given generous exposure to occupational therapists, social workers, and educators. The public had pinned its hope on treatment and government funding was generous.
The results of this experiment in treatment of convicted drug addicts at Matsqui Institution were studied meticulously. They were horrible, with over 90% recidivism of treated addicts who were still alive five years after release. Worst of all, the most intense treatment produced more recidivism than the less intense treatment, even though this came short of statistical significance. Matsqui, with its well-funded, optimistically launched program, had quickly proven that psychologists could not treat convicted drug users out of addiction any more than police could enforce them out of it.
I have elaborated on this, but I don't think I'll have time to include it all. I was in the treatment business myself in the 1970s and 1980s. I can tell you that it's no panacea. Of course, there are sometimes successes. There are often failures, sadly, much more often.
The results of newer forms of compulsory treatment, including drug courts and boot camps, are no more promising than the old forms. Occasional successes can be documented in individual cases, but there are also cases in which drug treatment has done much more harm than good.
My third reason for opposing is the underlying theory. Of course, the bill does not state a theory, but it is clearly based on the way of looking at drug addiction that grew out of the American temperance movement in the 19th century. This is a way that puts the focus on drug addiction, as opposed to all the other kinds of addiction, and which conceives of addiction as something that is caused by being exposed to a drug. If this theory were true, then of course the logical thing would be to be extremely punitive with drug producers, importers, and traffickers. And the thing to do would be to treat drug addicts for the presumed disease of addiction, which they have gathered.
I don't know if this has been part of your deliberations up to this point, but you must know that this view of drug addiction is severely challenged and antiquated. There are all kinds of important new research done by researchers all over the world, including several in Canada, which has called this into serious doubt. This does not mean that it isn't still being actively promoted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the United States, and it's still not being actively promulgated by all our media, but it is indeed an antiquated point of view. There are newer ways of looking at drug addiction, and the government has not paid any attention to them, in my opinion.
I end with my recommendation. I urge the House of Commons to reject and to recommend that the government seek advice from Canadian historians and addiction professionals who work outside the conventional paradigm before formulating future legislation in the addiction field. Blind faith in punishment and coerced treatment will never solve the problem of addiction.
I conclude by saying that I speak only with respect for the Government of Canada, the government of my country, but I do believe that this is a case where their considerable intellectual talents must have been focused elsewhere when this piece of legislation was designed.
I want to thank all the witnesses for testifying today. It's all very interesting to hear the debate about mandatory minimums rise again. We've been sort of at this for three and a half years.
I'm very interested, Mr. Sterling, in your comments, and I hope to get back to you in later rounds, but we have a police chief in the room, so I'm going to go to what may pit the chief against Mr. Alexander.
The chief has been very clear in written statements--and of course the press always get things right--so I'll put those comments back to you, Chief. You say that under Bill , the choice of diversion to the drug treatment court may be a good crime prevention tool. It's something on this side that we haven't seen in three and a half years, a way to sort of use the mandatory minimum as a lever or incentive, by way of avoiding it, to better oneself.
However, Professor Alexander, you were suggesting that one of the elements you don't like about this bill is sort of the push aspect, the idea of pushing people to the drug treatment court, pushing people to treatment. You probably didn't have enough time, but you were saying, I think, that anybody who knows anything about treatment or therapy knows that won't work.
I'm sort of in between the two thoughts, because we have heard a lot of evidence, and everybody's read about addiction as a health issue. There are underlying factors, and people have to want treatment to have that treatment succeed. But we come from all walks of life, and we also know there are defining moments when people seek treatment, such as when their wife's going to leave or when they have no money or when they end up on a park bench. Those are the sorts of pushes to get treatment, and often they do work.
First of all, I want to give the chief a chance to perhaps reiterate the comment that was ascribed to him and say what he has to say in support of drug treatment courts as a tool, as a positive, as something that can be used by somebody trying to avoid a mandatory minimum sentence. Then perhaps I'll give Professor Alexander a chance to flesh out his comments with respect to the push to treatment.
There are several important issues here. I would revert to saying that the most important issue is that Canada has a history of drug treatment of convicted drug offenders, in Matsqui, and I would urge everybody who has not examined that history to take a careful look at it. It's really quite revealing. It's very well studied, and the treatment was very well done, and it didn't work at all.
Now, given that, it is of course true--and I would agree with the comments that have been made--that coerced treatment does sometimes work. It is true that everybody needs a gentle push from time to time--not just people who use drugs. All of that is true.
It is true that there are successes from people who have been coerced into treatment, but not very many. It can never get us around or out of the drug problem and the addiction problem, which is tending to swamp us, and you need to know that pushing people into treatment, or gentle persuasion, has been going on for a very long time. It has been the case in Vancouver for the decades that I've been here that judges will simply say to people, “I don't want to see you back in court until you've been in treatment, and you're going to jail next time you're here.” That has always happened. There's nothing new in the gentle pushing of people into treatment.
The important thing is that the act institutionalizes this in a way that is ugly. That is, it's having people face mandatory minimums, quite arbitrary mandatory minimums, and saying, “Okay, do you want to go to jail or do you want to take that mandatory minimum?” This is not gentle persuasion. This is not a gentle push. We're talking about an institutionalized shove of people into treatment, which is quite a different thing.
May I say, as a psychologist, that treatment really is a delicate art; it is a gentle kind of process. And there's nothing in this bill that favours gentle persuasion.
First of all, thank you to the witnesses for coming and thank you to the witnesses on the videoconference.
Most people understand and know instinctively that compulsory or forced treatment for addiction or substance use, whether it's legal or not, is not something that can be legislated. Anyone who has tried to quit smoking or deal with an alcohol problem knows it's not something that is easy to deal with in a legislative manner, so I see the drug treatment courts in this bill as really being a concession to lead people to believe that somehow we're being more humane. There's lots of evidence to show that the drug treatment courts don't work, but I'm not going to dwell on that, because I think that's a topic for another debate.
I want to come back to what Mr. Sterling put forward. I think you said that we need to answer two questions: what they are going to cost, and whether they are effective. I've actually tried to get answers to that. At least we should have some idea of what we might expect here in Canada.
Do you have in the top of your head, or can you draw our attention to, information as to whether there is a way of estimating what the mandatory minimums have cost in the United States in terms of the cost to the judicial system and the cost to local communities? I don't know if there is any way you can speak about that.
Considering the effectiveness of mandatory minimums does raise the question of what criteria we apply in defining the effectiveness of a drug policy. Is it more people in jail? Some people may actually argue that having more people in jail is success, but if drug use is still going up in society, as statistics show is happening in Canada, it could be an argument that criminalization has not been an effective policy.
In terms of effectiveness, the second part is that I'd appreciate the comments of both Mr. Sterling and Mr. Alexander on what they see as an effective measure. What criteria should we be applying as we look at this issue of mandatory minimums?
With respect to effectiveness, your first goal should be to save lives. The drug policy and the laws that carry out the drug policy should be about saving lives. In the United States, since 1980, the death rate from the use of illegal drugs has more than tripled. All of our efforts have been ineffective at saving lives.
The second goal should be to prevent injuries, to prevent people from going to hospital. Hospital emergency room admissions went up by 50% since the mid-1990s.
The third goal should be to keep drugs out of the hands of children. We do a survey every year called Monitoring the Future. We ask high school seniors, tenth graders and eighth graders, to tell us how easy they believe it would be for them to get various illegal drugs. We've been asking these questions since the 1970s, and unfortunately there's very little change. The changes are marginal. In some cases there is absolutely no change at all. The drugs remain widely available to young people, in their perception, year after year.
The fourth measure of effectiveness is in the marketplace. The goal of enforcement is to raise the price and lower the purity. In the United States, the price has gone down steadily and the purity has gone up. So the hard and fast marketplace test shows that we have not succeeded, that these policies have not succeeded in hurting the ability of drug traffickers to bring their product to market.
With respect to the first question and costs, I did a little bit of research about what the costs are for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. When the legislation was developed in 1986, our Congressional Budget Office estimated increased costs of $1.2 million in the first year, going up to $27 million within five years. The actual expenditures for the Bureau of Prisons have skyrocketed. Now, these are not adjusted for inflation. In 1986, when we enacted the mandatory minimums, the Federal Bureau of Prisons' expenditure was $862 million. It went up to $994 million the next year. Two years later, it was $1.2 billion; 1989, $1.4 billion; 1990, $1.7 billion; 1991, $2.1 billion. The President's request for fiscal 2010 is over $6 billion, and a large part of this has been driven by the mandatory minimums and how long they are in the United States.
I could not give you estimates about what the costs have been to the States, but as you take people out of the community and put them in prison, they're unable to support their families. One out of nine American men has a felony conviction, which means their ability to buy cars made in North America is reduced, their ability to buy houses made of lumber harvested in North America is reduced, their ability to buy furniture made from wood harvested in North America is reduced. They are a drag on our economy and they're a drag on the global economy, because they can't work, they can't get jobs, they can't support their families, they can't participate in the economy.
This is a cost that no other society in the world endures, by penalizing so many people.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses, both here and on video conference, for their input.
I'll start with my questioning of Chief White. I've been reading your 2008 activity report. I'm just going to read a couple of excerpts and then I'm going to ask you to expand on them.
Under the heading “A Safer Tomorrow”, you say: “Policing is not limited to enforcing the law, but also preventing crime and assisting victims of crime. The Ottawa Police Service strives to protect the vulnerable in our community.” Then you go into the various aspects, such as education, diversion, restorative justice, particularly for youth, and you talk about working with the province for residential drug and alcohol treatment facilities. Then you go on to say: “It will also assist in reducing crime--studies have shown that drug addicts will commit up to eight crimes a day to support their habits.”
Then over on “Tackling Quality of Life Issues on Ottawa's Streets”, you say, “After seeing the street level drug problem firsthand”, you understood that “substance abuse was the main contributing factor to many downtown crime-related issues”. You went on to say, “The situation required a more effective, consistent and targeted policing plan”, and then you talked about your response to that.
Then a little further down on the same page, “Responding to Youth Violence, Anti-gang Strategy”, you say: “In the last few years, there are more youth gangs appearing in the suburbs. Children as young as 10 are being recruited by gangs and more females are getting involved in what has traditionally been the domain of males.” You go on to speak about that.
If I were to suggest to you that targeting specific areas of enforcement, prevention, etc., is the right thing to do, then I would suggest to you that the law we're talking about, , is not just an overall blanket drug strategy, it's actually targeted to specific areas, such as people who deal in drugs with a weapon or violence, people who deal in drugs, heroin, or methamphetamines, and it says specifically to youth, or dealing drugs near schools, in places frequented by youth. It talks about marijuana, but it says large marijuana growing operations of at least--that's the minimum--500 plants. Then, of course, cannabis production, and then of course the last one, which is most troubling, especially to young women: tougher penalties for trafficking in GHB and the common date-rape drugs.
I wonder if you wouldn't mind tying all those together and telling me how fits into your strategy.
Yes, thank you very much.
I'll do the first piece, if you don't mind, on how we see it as a crime prevention tool, and then I'm going to refer to Staff Sergeant Gauthier, if that's okay.
When I first came here, I did refer to a drug treatment centre as the greatest crime prevention tool we could build. We have over 400 young people between 13 and 17 on a waiting list for treatment today in the city of Ottawa, and only one provincially run drug treatment centre for 13- to 17-year-olds. So we tried to bring everybody from both sides of the street, to be fair, with the Liberals in the middle, to one location so that we could have this discussion about why a drug treatment centre, from a policing perspective on crime prevention, from a health perspective on dealing with young people with addictions, was going to work for all of us.
I think we were successful in the fact that the province announced two drug treatment centres, one for francophones in the east end and one for anglophones in the west end of the city. Both will be up and running by year-end, I hope.
From our perspective, we were seeing increased street-level crimes in only one location in the city, exactly the same location where we've seen increased crack cocaine use since 2005, in particular in that section of the city, six blocks from here. From our perspective, as well, we felt that if we attacked the drug trafficking in those areas, specifically street-level trafficking, to be fair, we could also start making it a safer environment for those who live there, and give some of the people who need treatment an opportunity.
People will ask why we focused on 13- to 17-year-olds. Because 70% of 13- to 17-year-olds will not use drugs for five years after residential treatment, we felt it was an opportunity to turn the tap off rather than focusing specifically on the street now, where we have hundreds if not thousands of drug-addicted people living on the streets, either permanently or temporarily, in the city. We were targeting, and we are trying to make a difference from that perspective.
I'm going to let Staff Sergeant Gauthier talk about the drug issue in the city, if that's okay.