By CHRISTINA SPENCER, PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU
OTTAWA - Legislation that prevents criminals from getting extra credit for time served will cost the federal government about $2 billion over five years, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Wednesday.
Reacting to news reports that the Parliamentary Budget Office has estimated the cost at up to $10 billion, Toews said, “Our government understands that there will be a cost to this.” But he said Budget Officer Kevin Page’s estimates were flawed.
The government bill, which is now law, eliminates so-called two-for-one sentencing that lets criminals claim double credit for time spent in detention prior to being sentenced. Two-for-one was meant to acknowledge that the conditions in which they are often held are not on par with those available to sentenced prisoners.
Toews said the government would save the costs of the added incarceration its legislation will bring, in part, by having prisoners bunk together in the same cell.
“Many western democracies do that; there’s nothing inappropriate about that,” he said. “The Conservative party stands behind the idea that individuals should
in fact serve the time they’ve been sentenced to.”
Double bunking, he said, is “an appropriate solution, it can be done in an appropriate and constitutionally acceptable manner.”
Toews was not able to say what the costs would be for other crime bills the Conservatives have reintroduced since prorogation.