Yukon’s incarceration rate skyrockets — good news, says Horne

The Yukon’s rate of prison incarceration has increased a whopping 33 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

The Yukon’s rate of prison incarceration has increased a whopping 33 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

It’s proof that crime reduction initiatives are working, said Justice Minister Marian Horne in comments to the Yukon legislature.

“We are tackling the crime rates in the Yukon and it’s not only in the jails, we have so much going on for the crime rates,” she said.

Graduated drivers’ licences, the alcohol-ignition-interlock program, treatment and enforcement have all helped to increase the incarceration rate, said Horne, who refused to be interviewed.

In the legislature, she also praised the statistics as indicating the success of the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods legislation — a program that doesn’t involve arrests, but simply allows government officials to evict residents from properties suspected of criminal activities.

On average, every day there are 70 adults incarcerated somewhere within the Yukon territory — an increase from 52 in previous years.

The statistics only count prisoners incarcerated within the geographic boundaries of the Yukon territory, and does not account for Yukon residents sent to prison facilities in Alberta or BC.

Yukon facilities have felt the crunch.

The Whitehorse Correctional Centre, which was designed to hold 45 inmates, currently holds 90.

“We can reduce the crime and make our communities safer by taking people off the streets, but we still have to have someplace for them to go,” said Liberal MLA Don Inverarity in the legislature.

Horne responded by citing the success of “community programs.”

“We’re sending the offenders back into the community, to learn and go into their cultural ways, to interact with the community and be productive citizens,” she said.

The phenomenon of growing incarceration rates across the country have been attributed to higher rates of “remand;” adults that are being forced to wait in jail as they await trial.

“Our data can’t explain the increased use of remand, but one thing we know is that court cases are taking longer to process,” said Rebecca Kong, chief of the correctional services program at Statistics Canada.