Pubdate: Thu, 18 Oct 2007
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Craig Jones


Re: Murder rate falls, but violent crime on the rise, Oct. 17.

What I would like to know, because I think it would be most 
illuminating, is how many gun crimes are products or unintended 
consequences of drug prohibition.

These kinds of crimes are seldom random, but rather targeted 
assassinations: as drug dealers battle over turf or unpaid drug 
debts. This is how business is conducted in a context of prohibition 
- -- as it was also under alcohol prohibition.

But the government and law enforcement agencies never talk about 
prohibition-related deaths -- they talk about drug crimes and 
drug-related killings. In fact, they're not killing over drugs per 
se, but over drug profits -- which are a consequence of prohibition.

The Conservative government's omnibus crime bill apes the worst of 
what doesn't work in the U.S.

The government plays on citizens' fear of crime but ignores its own 
numbers which show that crime (including homicide) has been in 
continuous decline for the past 25 years, according to Statistics Canada.

Police reported 605 homicides in Canada during 2006, 58 fewer than 
the previous year. Following two years of increases, the national 
homicide rate fell by 10 per cent to 1.85 homicides per 100,000 population.

The national anti-drug strategy is ill-conceived and punitive, making 
no pretense to be evidence-based or modeled on best practices. The 
words "harm reduction" do not even appear in the prime minister's 
introductory remarks, though harm reduction is the bedrock principle 
of every expert drug and addictions specialist community from the 
World Health Organization to the Canadian Medical Association.

Manipulating citizens through the fear of crime is regressive and 
unworthy -- nor does it make anyone safer. We know, from looking 
south, what does not work to make citizens and communities safer. Why 
would this government copy that example?

Craig Jones, Kingston

Executive director, The John Howard Society of Canada
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman