Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Opposition MPs Skeptical of Plan to Keep Worst Criminals in Jail for Life

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Opposition MPs Skeptical of Plan to Keep Worst Criminals in Jail for Life

Article excerpt

Opposition MPs skeptical of life-in-jail plan

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OTTAWA - The government's long-promised plan to lock up some criminals and throw away the key will make prisons more dangerous, opposition MPs say.

Denying any chance of parole to the worst violent offenders will increase the chances of prison guards being attacked, the NDP and Liberal public safety critics said Tuesday as the government signalled legislation would come before summer.

Opposition MPs want a greater emphasis on rehabilitating inmates.

Criminologists dismissed the life-behind-bars initiative after it was announced in the October 2013 speech from the throne, saying there are already legal provisions to ensure the most heinous offenders never get out.

At the time, the government said those convicted of the worst crimes -- such as multiple murders or sex assaults on children -- could spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says legislation will be tabled before Parliament rises in June.

"People who commit serious and violent crimes in a repetitive manner constitute a menace to society," Blaney said Tuesday after a House of Commons committee meeting.

"The premier objective is to protect society."

When the plan was first outlined, Justice Minister Peter MacKay said the provisions would be applied very narrowly.

"When I say the worst of the worst, the most violent, repeat offenders, we're talking about multiple murders, multiple sexual assaults on the most vulnerable -- our children," MacKay said shortly after the throne speech.

"We want to ensure that certain individuals capable and convicted of those offences will never be let out of prison."

MacKay acknowledged there are tools -- such as the dangerous offender designation -- to keep some criminals from being released. The Conservative government has also scrapped the so-called faint-hope clause that allowed some inmates with life sentences to seek early parole. …

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