Tough On Crime

Jun 12, 2009 04:30 AM

Carol Goar (external - login to view)

The ending was anticlimactic.
On Monday evening, just as Canadians were sitting down to dinner, Parliament quietly enacted one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's most controversial pieces of legislation.

The Liberals joined forces with the Conservatives to pass Canada's first mandatory minimum jail sentences for individuals convicted of drug dealing.

The vote was lopsided: 195 to 54. But it was a superficial consensus.

MPs approved the bill without any empirical evidence that harsh sentencing laws reduce drug crime. They endorsed the policy without any estimate of how much it will cost to jail thousands of marijuana growers and street pushers. They changed the law without any plan to contain the spread of AIDS, hepatitis C and other drug-related diseases in the prison system.

The Liberals dared not look soft on crime. The New Democrats and Bloc Québécois were outnumbered.

It was a classic case of polls trumping facts.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson admitted as much last month when he appeared before the Commons justice committee. Challenged to provide proof from any country in the world that mandatory jail time deters drug use or improves public safety, he responded: "I can tell you, there is support for this bill from many ordinary Canadians who are quite concerned about drug abuse."

He is right about that. Surveys consistently show that 70 to 75 per cent of Canadians support mandatory prison sentences for drug dealers.

But he wasn't asked how popular the policy was. He was asked for concrete information and he provided none: no research documenting the benefits of harsh drug sentencing laws, no jurisdiction where they'd cut crime.

In fact, most studies – including two by the federal justice department in the last seven years – have concluded that mandatory minimum sentences don't work. Most experts, including 13 of the 16 who appeared before the committee, recommended that the government scrap the policy.

New York state, which pioneered mandatory sentencing for drug crimes in 1973, has decided to repeal its tough penalties. Michigan, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, New Jersey and North Carolina are rethinking their mandatory minimum drug sentences.

Yet Ottawa is embarking on its own war on drugs.

Under the newly amended Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, judges will be required to impose the following sentences:

A minimum prison term of one year for selling marijuana as part of an organized criminal gang or when a weapon is involved.

A minimum of two years in jail for selling hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine to young people.

A minimum of six months behind bars for growing five to 200 marijuana plants without a licence and two years for cultivating at least 500 plants.

According to these rules, a high-school student who got hooked on crystal meth and became a supplier would face two years in jail. A single mom who grew a few cannabis plants to supplement her income could be incarcerated for six months.

The bill does give judges some latitude to divert non-violent offenders with substance abuse problems to one of six national drug treatment courts. But most drug dealers will simply be locked up.

The government has not explained why it is heading down the same expensive path the Americans are now abandoning. It has not shown how jailing drug pushers for a year or two will choke off supply lines or weaken the criminal gangs. And it hasn't told Canadians what will happen when prison-hardened traffickers return to their communities.

In all likelihood, Harper won't pay a political price. By the time taxpayers realize his policy is ineffective and unaffordable, he will have moved on.
The Canadian people won't get off so lightly.
I imagine it was the Bloc that gave the most intelligent arguments in the debate as well.

I recall reading through the debates when they (the Harper conservatives) first tried to enact mandatory minimums. The Bloc pointed out that in fact all the witnesses but one had pointed out that harsher penalties typically increase recidivism and that by trying to "act tough on crime" the Conservatives were in fact making the problem worse (according to the testimony and evidence they had).

The bad thing about this legislation is that it will make problems worse, not better. They are not being tough on crime, they are being cowards and avoiding adressing the real issues.
The bankers win again, thier money keeps us swallowing tons of chemicals that require tons of other chemicals that greases the wheels of the drug industries, few get better all get hooked and the machine profits of misery and dispare.
They won't touch white collar crime or foriegn espionage or police corruption, even now when the suited scumbags are openly looting the public purse, but they will crack down on defenceless harmless pot heads because it serves thier masters and I don't mean the electorate. The legislation will aid organized crime and cost the Canadian taxpayer further millions wasted in totally non-productive expense aimed at the least lucrative aspects of Canadian crime. So ma and pa grass cultivators go to prison, will that get cocaine and heroine off the streets? Will that get the anti-depressants and painkillers out of the nieghbourhoods? We couldn't have a softer on real crime lot than the present elected cabal of butt kissing dogs.
And the Liberals are right there in bed with them.
Ron in Regina
Is this any indication of what will transpire next week, and the talk
of a Summer Election, etc....?
Quote: Originally Posted by UnforgivenView Post

And the Liberals are right there in bed with them.

There isn't any practical difference between any of the parties except banner colour, at the end of the day they all suck bankers and pander to the privilaged.

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