But here’s where we differ – instead of being ‘tough on crime’, I believe that we need to be ‘smart on crime’. What do I mean by this?
Canada’s crime rate is going down (CBC). It may not seem that way because of how the media reports it, but it’s true. When crime rates are decreasing, where is the justification to build more prisons that will cost at minimum $9 billion? To make sure that there are enough criminals to fill these new prisons, the Conservatives put forward a Bill to increase mandatory minimum sentencing.
This Bill has been criticized for making matters worse (Globe and Mail). The Bill is purported to lock up criminals longer who are involved in drug-related crimes. However, it doesn’t appear to have any basis in statistics or research. I like this summary:
“Bill S-10 will put small scale growers of marijuana in jail for a minimum of six months, even though the RCMP’s study of some 25,000 cultivation files reveals that violence or the threat of violence among cultivators is rare,” said Neil Boyd, professor and associate director of the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. “We will be spending tens of millions of dollars to imprison individuals who represent little if any real threat to the public.”
Why are we – a nation of incredibly intelligent people who are spending money on research with government grants in government-run universities – not basing our legislation on research that is statistically viable? Why are we not using this resource?
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has reviewed the mandatory minimum sentencing bill and has deemed it to be a gross waste of resources as well. They say:
“Going down this road will mean putting more people in jail and devoting more public money to prison budgets. It will also prevent judges and other justice system participants from diverting offenders with addiction and mental health issues to places where their problems are more likely to be addressed.”
Let’s stop the viscious cycle of arresting and charging our homeless people with petty crimes when they really need mental health care. In the 1970′s, funding was drastically cut for mental health institutions in this country. What resulted is deinstitutionalization (Canada.com) does not help these citizens be healthier or contribute as a member of our society.
Let’s be fiscally responsible about how we fight crime.
I want Canada to be a proactive nation, not a reactive nation.
I want us to help people with addictions and mental health illness who commit non-violent crimes to get proper treatment and become productive, tax paying citizens – not become another drain on our economy by having to house and feed them for years.
If you agree that we need to be ‘smart on crime’, vote for me on May 2nd.