Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray’s ‘End the Revolving Door Act’ is being voted on in Parliament this week.
Bill C-283 seeks to provide more access to mental health and addiction treatment for prisoners in federal institutions.
In a social media post, Gray explained that it’s an issue Canadians have become all too familiar with.
“Desperate people suffering from severe addictions and mental health challenges are entering and exiting our justice system without the proper curative treatment they need to heal.”
The bill would amend the criminal code to support a two-stream sentencing process.
If convicted individuals meet certain parameters at the time of sentencing, a judge could offer the choice to be sentenced to take part in a mental health assessment and in addiction treatment while they serve their term.
“Healing is the path forward for tackling our addiction and mental health crisis while improving public safety in our communities,” Gray added.
In an interview with Gray, Tom Smithwick with Kelowna’s Freedom’s Door, an addiction recovery program for men, pointed out that there are few or no programs in Canadian prisons to help individuals with addictions and mental health issues.
“Prisons are supposed to part of rehabilitation,” he said. “Well, how can there be rehabilitation if there is no program of what the core issues are, the whole reasons they’re there to begin with.”
Smithwick added that 75 to 85 per cent of people in prisons across the country have addiction issues, and many also have mental health challenges.
He noted that the repeat rate for individuals returning to prison is approximately 75 per cent.
“I think prisons are the absolute best place for many to start the program of realizing I don’t have to return to that.”