Pubdate: Fri, 30 May 2014
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The Toronto Star
Author: Robert Sharpe


Re: A blow to the justice system, Editorial May 20

A blow to the justice system, Editorial May 20

Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to catch up with the 21st 
Century. Even Americans have turned their backs on mandatory minimum 
prisons sentences. If harsh penalties deterred illicit drug use, 
Canada's neighbour would be a "drug-free" America. The U.S. drug war 
has done little other than enrich violent drug cartels.

The former "Land of the Free" now has the highest incarceration rate 
in the world. Meanwhile, U.S. rates of drug use are higher than 
European Union countries that have declared drug peace. This type of 
extreme government failure is expensive for taxpayers and certainly 
not worth emulating up in Canada.

Putting non-violent drug offenders behind bars with violent criminals 
is the equivalent of providing them with a taxpayer-funded education 
in anti-social behavior. This can backfire when inmates are released 
with a PhD in criminality and no means of employment.

If the goal is to discourage unhealthy choices, there are 
cost-effective alternatives to prison sentences that destroy lives 
and tear families apart. Thanks to public education and use 
restrictions, legal tobacco use has declined dramatically, without 
any need to criminalize smokers or further enrich drug cartels 
through tobacco prohibition.

Robert Sharpe, Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, D.C.
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