EDMONTON, AB (March 26, 2015): Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann is calling the government’s decision to close the Young Offender Centre in Calgary a bad move for the youth involved, their families, and both communities.
“Again, the government is being pennywise and pound-foolish by closing this centre, firing the staff, and shipping these kids out of their home community and down the road to Edmonton,” says Swann. “We should be working hard to rehabilitate these young people who are in trouble with the law, not ripping them out of the only support system they may have."
The decision to close the Calgary centre and send the youth to Edmonton has also been widely criticized by the AUPE, the Criminal Defence Lawyers’ Association, the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association, and the John Howard Society.
“We all agree that moving troubled young people hundreds of kilometers away from the discipline and support that their families would provide, the counsel their lawyers provide, or the addiction or emotional therapy that their trusted case workers provide is a bad idea,” says Swann.
The situation is even worse for young offenders from the Medicine Hat area. In 2004, the government shuttered the Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Red Deer youth wings, moving the young offenders to Calgary. The additional move to Edmonton will now result in a 600 kilometre trip for their Medicine Hat family members.
“If this is an example of how the government plans to save money, they’re in for a very costly surprise,” says Swann. “Impeding the ability of these young people to turn their lives around is going to lead to more trouble with the law, more problems in the community, and more overall costs to the system.”