Hubert Humphrey once said “the moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life; the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick and the needy, and the handicapped.”
It’s a pretty good quote to describe how society failed the 26 women that Robert Pickton is accused of murdering, and the two Fraser Valley women that Davey Mato Butorac was accused of murdering just last week. Same goes for all the prostitutes, drug addicts, homeless, and hopeless that have been killed or died of unnatural causes in every city across Canada.
Our current policy — ignoring our most vulnerable citizens, prosecuting them for their addictions and the laws they break out of desperation, and blaming them for their plight — clearly isn’t working. It isn’t even saving us tax dollars, which is the main reason social programs are so poorly under funded these days. It’s been proven countless times and in countless ways that the cost of doing nothing always costs us more in the long run.
Take the Pickton case. According to recent articles, the investigation cost roughly $70 million, while the first trial that successfully charged Pickton with six murders cost another $46 million. If a defence appeal of the original convictions is successful the Crown will retry Pickton for all 26 murders, essentially throwing the first convictions out and bringing the total cost of the case to more than $130 million. That doesn’t cover the appeal, or the cost of jailing Pickton for the rest of his life.
Now imagine if we spent that $130 million on the women that were murdered. Not that we should ever put a dollar value on human lives, but that works out to about $5 million per victim.
Consider that none of Pickton’s victims willingly chose prostitution, but were reduced to it by their addictions, and in many cases by the people who kept them addicted.
What if we put some of that money into social housing, so they would have a place to sleep at night, and programs to protect streetwalkers from brutal pimps? What if we put some money into addiction recovery programs to get them healthy, and then spent a little more to help them become educated and find jobs? What if we had social workers that knew their names and addresses, their addictions, and the people they associated with — would all those years have still gone by before anyone even noticed they were missing? Maybe Pickton would have been caught long before he became Canada’s worst serial killer.