Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2009
Source: Airdrie City View (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Airdrie City View Ltd.
Author: Blake Richards, (Wild Rose MP)
Bookmark: (Incarceration)
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


After having recently toured the maximum security prison in Edmonton,
I am more convinced than ever that the worst threat to public safety
is the growing gang problem here in Canada.

In my role on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety
and National Security, I will be touring a number of prisons in the
coming weeks, including penitentiaries at Bowden and Drumheller. I
also plan to do ride-alongs with local RCMP in Wild Rose and with
Calgary City Police, and will be meeting with anti-gang units to
determine the full scope of the issues they're dealing with.

One thing that is abundantly clear to me, from recent reports in the
media, meeting with local police officers and Alberta's Solicitor
General, and having toured the Edmonton Max, is that we have a huge
and growing problem with gangs and the violence they subject our
society to. There have been innocent bystanders caught in the
crossfire and injured or killed as rival gang members shoot each other
up on the streets of Calgary. And, I fear that these deadly games will
make their way out to the communities we call home in Wild Rose.

Furthermore, in touring the maximum security institution in Edmonton,
it is clear that even within our prisons there are enormous challenges
dealing with the gang problem - gang members use their time in prison
as an opportunity to recruit and train future gang members; drug
smuggling and the black market is rampant, with anything and
everything being used as currency; and prisoners take advantage of
their far too generous personal property privileges to create ways to
communicate with the outside so they can continue to run their gang
activities from inside the prisons.

Gangs and organized crime and the violence it brings cannot and must
not be tolerated. The first step is dealing with the drug trade which
fuels gang activity. This includes stiffer mandatory sentences for
crimes such as drug trafficking and running large grow operations or
crystal meth labs. It also includes educating youth about the dangers
of illegal drugs, and increasing funding for initiatives such as the
Youth Gang Prevention Fund.

Beyond combating the drug trade, we must put a stop to the revolving
door system that we call justice in this country. Serious violent
offences must meet with serious penalties.

Criminal sentences must fit the crime and be a true deterrent to
criminal behaviour. The protection of the public must be first and
foremost in the minds of legislators, and everyone involved in our
justice system.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin