Pubdate: Fri, 07 Apr 2006
Source: Sun Times, The (Owen Sound, CN ON)
Copyright: 2006, Osprey Media Group Inc.


Getting tough on crime may be an easy sell for the new Conservative 
government, but we hope the debate -- if there is much of one -- will 
be a thoughtful one. Throwing more people in prison for longer 
periods of time will not reduce crime. Backing away from liberalizing 
marijuana laws will not free up police officers to do more important work.

We agree that repeat criminals and those who use guns to commit crime 
should be locked up for a long time.

It's a matter of justice and common sense that sentences fit the 
offences. But let's not delude ourselves by thinking the lock 'em up 
approach will actually reduce crime numbers which, in fact, have been 
declining since the early 1990s.

Statistics Canada says "the violent crime rate has generally declined 
since the early 1990s after increasing throughout most of the three 
previous decades. Since 1993, it has fallen 11 per cent."

We recognize the family of a murder victim could care less about 
Statistics Canada numbers, however the misleading hype generated by 
politicians clouds our judgment.

In many cases, offenders come out of prison more dangerous and less 
sociable than when they got in. We tell our young people to not hang 
around with a bad crowd. Guess what? Prison is the ultimate bad 
crowd. It's a university of sorts for thugs.

If the government doesn't pay attention and resources to 
rehabilitating offenders, if it doesn't recognize that quality child 
care, housing and education are at the root of fighting crime, then 
the crime crackdown plank in Stephen Harper's throne speech is 
political pandering of the worst kind.
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