Edmonton’s Mayor wants the Harper government to stop building prisons in his city

·Politics Reporter

Once the Conservative party's omnibus crime bill makes its way through the legislative process, the government will no doubt need to build more prisons across the country.

At least one mayor is saying no.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel demanded Tuesday the federal government stop building prison cells in his city because dealing with the approximately 400 paroled inmates who stay in Edmonton after being released costs police too much money.

"We believe we have more than our fair share of prisoners in our city. We don't want any more," Mandel told the Edmonton Journal.

"If the federal government wants to expand prisons, do it elsewhere … We have done our share."

He's concerned the federal and provincial governments don't sufficiently reimburse cities for the costs of dealing with justice issues, which can include everything from "tough on crime" laws to processing bail applications.

"They need to start paying for those things, for the challenges of municipalities they put upon us," he later told reporters.

"It always winds up being downloaded on cities. We don't want any more prison space here. We have enough, that's quite clear … We bear that cost for the entire region."

The Harper government's crime bill, with its mandatory minimums and the end of house arrest for serious crimes, will require space for thousands more prisoners to the system.

According to a recent story in the National Post, the the government is already in the midst of their largest expansion of prison building since the 1930's.

The Post reports the Edmonton region will be getting 2,092 new federal and provincial beds added to their prison system over the next several years - more new beds than any other city in the country.

Edmonton City Councillor Kim Krushell agreed with Mandel that Edmonton has too many federal inmates.

"I have heard our city and Winnipeg are the dumping grounds for prisoners across the federal system, and personally, we have seen more than our fair share," she told the Edmonton Journal.

"I think this is contributing to our crime."

(CBC photo)

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