Canada needs alternatives to detention, not tougher incarceration rules

It’s in the title, but let’s repeat it: instead of tougher incarceration, Canada needs feasible alternatives to detention.

Not sure how I missed this great op-ed in The Vancouver Sun about the problems with the country’s new detention policy. Very disturbing indeed.

It all makes me wonder: instead of building a system that is not only inhumane (these people have not committed a felony), but also expensive (it costs a lot of money to keep migrants incarcerated), why doesn’t the government invest in alternatives to detention?

Because apparently there’s big bucks in detaining people.

According to a Guardian piece from November:

“Immigration detention is a growth industry around the world, and some of the biggest private security and prison firms are the beneficiaries.”

And so these security and prison firms lobby governments aggressively. Again from the Guardian piece:

Serco is one of the biggest players in the immigration detention business worldwide. The company, which provides public services to governments around the world, including Canada – where it runs everything from the Ontario driver’s education and licencing program to military bases in Newfoundland and Labrador – has been lobbying Ottawa on the subject of immigration service delivery.”

So sickening.

But change can happen.

Although created with Europe in mind, where detention is also prevalent, I think the following is a good list of possible alternatives to imprisonment that can be applied to other parts of the world. I’m not sure, however, about release on bail and open centres.

Here’s the list, from the site of Jesuit Refugee Service Europe:

“Monitoring requirements

  • An individual may be released from detention on the condition that s/he reports regularly to a monitoring authority. They may be released on their own recognisance or that of a family member or NGO. Reporting requirements may be weekly or monthly.

  • An individual may be required to live at a specific residence, which they would have to report to the authorities. They would be allowed to come and go, but they wouldn’t be allowed to live anywhere else.

Provision of guarantor/surety

  • An individual would have to provide a guarantor who would take responsibility for ensuring attendance at hearings, official appointments and meetings. Failure to do so would result in a fine against the guarantor.

Release on bail

  • Release from detention is granted if the individual can pay a specified bail sum. A guarantor/surety may also need to be provided.

Open centres

  • Accommodation facilities for entire groups of migrants, where people are free to come and go, but usually within certain times. This maybe coupled with monitoring requirements.

Case management

  • Individuals live independently in the community and are attached to a case manager, who follows their case and helps them to seek resolution. Used in the human services sector, case management is a holistic service delivery approach tailored to individual needs. Screening, holistic assessment, case planning, intervention, ongoing review and case closure are the core elements of case management.”

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One Response to Canada needs alternatives to detention, not tougher incarceration rules

  1. Pingback: Canada’s new detention rules and American migrant workers’ rights | Migration Musings

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