Madam Speaker, what is happening in the United States is interesting. We had a witness, a private consultant who works closely with the Mennonite Central Committee, in front of our justice committee last week. He was going to California, which is one of the more notorious states in terms of an increase in their prison population over the last 20 to 30 years with about a 300% increase in the prison population. He was going there to describe some of the provisions that we have here.
The United States generally does not have this kind of provision that I am aware of in any of its states. However, California was forced last spring to release something like 40,000 to 45,000 prisoners, including drug dealers and other people who had committed violent crimes. They are having to do that, but mostly they are closing prisons and releasing people. They are changing their drug laws, doing away with mandatory minimums in most cases and shortening the length of time that people can be sentenced, particularly for drug crimes. That is what is happening in the United States.
In other parts of the world, western Europe, the democracies of Australia and New Zealand, no one has gone down this route to any significant degree with the kind of mandatory minimums that the Conservative government is using. They just do not do it. If they do, they always leave residual discretion in the hands of the judiciary to deal with individual cases, which is really what this section is about. It allows that discretionary role to be played if the person has cleaned up his or her act, is not a risk to society, is able to contribute when he or she gets back into society, is rehabilitated and does not commit more crimes. That is what we need to be doing.
This section is such an over-reach that it is throwing the baby out with the bath water.