Mr. Chairman, I realize that prison reform is not a new subject, for it has been under review in this country for well over a hundred years. The most recent review was conducted by the Archambault commission in 1938, when the problem was explored and reexamined and many valuable recommendations put forward. In the light of these researches it is interesting to examine the statistics on crime in Canada over the past forty years. From 1900 to 1943 the number of crimes increased from 5,768 to 41,752, an increase of 642 per cent. The increase in population during the same period was 120 per cent, so we see that the increase in the crime rate was more than five times the increase in population. A further breakdown of the statistics is even more revealing. Convictions for all offences in 1905 numbered 62,559; in 1925 they were 177,783, and in 1943 they numbered 517,363. Or to consider the ratio of crimes to population, convictions for all offences were 1,042 per 100,000 of population in 1905, 1,913 per
100.000 of population in 1925, and 4,379 per
100.000 of population in 1943.
As far as juveniles between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one were concerned, the same trend is apparent. To consider only major offences, or what would be equivalent to indictable offences when referring to adults, the convictions of juveniles were 238 per cent per 100,000 of that age group in 1911, 708 in 1937, and 900 in 1943. I presume hon. members may ask, can that be true? Well, those are the figures; they may be found in the Canada Year Book and in the publications of the statistics bureau, and they are true. I think it well that this house should realize these figures are an appalling reflection upon the moral therapy of our prison system, particularly when we consider that a great proportion of the crimes were committed by repeaters. These figures are very interesting. Of the 1,335 males committed to the seven dominion penitentiaries during the year ended March 31, 1945, 1,050, or more than 76 per cent, three out of every four offenders, had been in prison before. Of the 42,000 men sentenced for indictable offences of all types in the same year, more than 13,000 of them, or one out of every three, had been in prison before. The Archambault commission of 1938 reported that there were 188 prisoners then in confinement who had been convicted an average of nineteen times each, and had cost the taxpayers of this country an average of 825,453.24, without taking into consideration the loss occasioned by the crimes which they committed.