Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A humble suggestion to any Conservative MPs out there

CBC News - Canada - Williams to lose rank but not pension: military

I propose a simple statute - that any income collected by an individual while he or she is in prison be subject to taxation at 100% to the estimated limit of the cost of upkeep for that individual in prison.

For example, if it is estimated that a convict in maximum security prison costs $85,000 per year including cost for guards, room, board, treatment, rehabilitation and other assorted initiatives, then the first $85,000 is confiscated for upkeep. If he or she earns more than this, then the excess will be taxed at the regular rate for that income level.

To be quite frank, there are too many pensioners (and 1 is too many, mind you) that receive their full federal pensions and Old Age Supplement while serving life sentences in prison. Some of these guys have absolutely no hope of seeing the light of day again. We charge pensioners for their upkeep to the limit of their income level when it comes to nursing homes and retirement homes, so what makes THESE pensioners any different than the ones sitting behind bars having done something wrong to be sent there?

A closing thought, maybe the prisoners have the right idea. I mean, honestly, what a great retirement scheme. Kill someone when you're ready to retire, and you get 3 square meals a day, free clothing, free shelter, cable TV, access to computers and the internet, exercise every day including access to weights, a job that you don't necessarily have to work all that hard at, and in the end, if you do something wrong, all they can really do is making you sit in your cell by yourself. Add to that the fact that you're paid full pensions to bank and you can choose which visitors you want to see or talk to, and you have the perfect retirement. The only problem is that you risk getting shived in the yard, but if you're in your 60s, chances are that you aren't going to piss off anyone bad enough to have them want you dead.

Forget about CPP or RRSPs - that sounds like a solid retirement plan.


  1. It's difficult for me to reconcile a position like yours. On its face, it seems reasonable but when i really think about it, I'm not so sure. We put people in prison and accept the cost as a type of control on the evolutionary direction of our society. We pay into a system that is meant to keep dangerous people from us and hope that we see a net benefit from that in the form of added security of the person and our property. The debt to society that we demand is that the system we pay for is used to lock people up who owe us for some terrible wrong they did. While I understand the desire to recover some of the cost we put into that system, it seems to me that a prisoner's income is a different issue.

    By this I mean that some one is tossed into prison for let's say...murder. That they receive a pension has nothing to do with the crime they committed right? It seems like an added punishment beyond incarceration if you start to demand that their wealth be taken from them in order to recover the cost of a system that we maintain specifically for our social benefit.

    As well, this type of idea also makes me wonder if decreased budget strain would become a motivation for incarcerating people. If you create a motivation in any department for incarcerating people who have an income that could be maintained while in prison, this could skew the scales of justice. If corrections departments realized any type of monetary benefit from this scheme, you could start to see collusion between these institutions and prosecutors or who knows what. Creating this type of monetary incentive in any way could be fairly dangerous.

    Interesting idea anyway though.

  2. You know what? You're right, they should be allowed to keep the wealth that they have generated pre-incarceration (as long as it was generated legally), and that wealth should be allowed to grow as normal. I'll even buy that CPP shouldn't be touched either as we actually pay into it.

    What I really want is for someone to review the government payment system so that certain payments don't go to prisoners - Old Age Supplement (a supplement to your OAS that is intended to give Seniors a minimum level of income to survive), Old Age Security (a pension received for, well, contributing to Canada throughout your lifetime), GST rebates (because the intention was to offset any GST paid)... things like that.

    I understand what you're saying, but I don't have to like these people being able to bank government payments for no other reason than they are already wards of the state.

  3. Government pensions that equate to welfare programs I can buy. I oppose old age pensions to begin with so that's easy but I can also buy the legitimate argument that a ward of the state has no legitimate claim to a social safety net. Government pensions that I do not think fall under this schema would be post-employment pensions such as those afforded to retired military officers.

    If a prisoner is spending money however and paying the GST or otherwise contributing to government coffers, I still think they should be treated in regard to taxes as any other citizen.

    Again, while I don't think a ward of the state has a legitimate claim to any social safety net, I don't think being incarcerated for even terrible crimes negates any legitimate claim to accumulated or earned wealth. If we spend money on a system of incarceration to keep us safe and provide a security benefit, it's almost schizophrenic to then demand that the incarcerated be forced to mitigate that cost. Encouraged to mitigate that cost fine, but grabbing something forcefully doesn't sit well with me.