Pubdate: Mon, 22 Feb 2010
Source: Northumberland News (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 by Metroland Printing, Publishing & Distributing, Ltd.
Author: Russell Barth


To the Editor:

Re: 'Cobourg roundtable discussions examines justice system' (Feb. 19).

The Conservatives are anything but "tough" on crime. Their crime and
drug policy has three parts: 1) To pander to myopic, media-addled,
punishment-fetishists who make up his voter base and who think jail is
the best cure/deterrent for any behaviour; 2) to paint anyone who
speaks sensibly about drugs as "soft" on crime; 3) to impose a
U.S.-style, for-profit prison industry onto Canadians.

There is no evidence to support the notion mandatory minimum jail
sentences work (and Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson raged against
them when he sat in Opposition), and since crime has been dropping for
25 years, there seems little need for them.

There is also no merit to Mr. Nicholson's repeated public assertions
that "this is what Canadians want," because poll after poll shows the
majority of Canadians would rather see marijuana laws relaxed, not

There is however, substantial evidence to show mandatory minimum jail
sentences are outrageously counterproductive. In fact, all the
evidence shows this.

Bill C-15, which offers mandatory jail sentences for growing even one
marijuana plant, would necessitate the building of no less than 12 new
billion-dollar prisons, and cost taxpayers upwards of $500 million per
year to maintain. Since tens of thousands of people under the age of
30 will be in jail, this will make the 'jobless' numbers appear lower.
Maybe this is Stephen Harper's plan to reduce unemployment? There will
certainly be jobs for guards.

This policy has been wildly successful in the U.S. It has increased
partisanship, filled the airwaves with balderdash, increased crime,
and has made a handful of wealthy Americans even wealthier. And that
is what Mr. Harper wants for Canada.

Incidentally, the Netherlands, where marijuana is sold in 'coffee
shops', they are laying off guards and closing jails because they
don't have enough crime.

Russell Barth

Federally licensed medical marijuana user

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