Pubdate: Fri, 12 May 2006
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Norval Horner
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


Justice Minister Vic Toews clings to the wrong conventional wisdom 
that tough mandatory minimum sentences will drive down the crime 
rate. He says that was proven in the 1990s in the United States. 
Experts in criminology disagree. He says it is common sense that if 
you increase the number of police, the crime rate will go down.

Washington, D.C., and Denver have similar populations. Washington has 
three times as many police and eight times the murder rate as Denver. 
In their book Freakonomics, authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. 
Dubner provide a strong case as to why the crime rate declined in the 
1990s in the United States.

On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in the Roe versus Wade case 
that abortions were legal. This permitted poor, unmarried, and 
teenage mothers -- for whom illegal abortions were too expensive or 
too hard to get -- to have legal abortions.

All children are not born equal. Decades of studies have shown that a 
child born into an adverse family environment is far more likely than 
other children to become a criminal. The fact that reducing the 
number of unwanted children would reduce the crime rate should 
surprise no one. On average, since 1973 there have been about one 
million abortions a year in the U.S.. This is one million unwanted 
children each year becoming part of the society.

Toews says New York City's crime reduction was due to increased 
penalties and more police officers. How would he explain the 
reduction in crime in all jurisdictions in the U.S. in the 1990s?

Five states permitted abortions prior to 1973. Their crime rates were 
reduced sooner than those states that did not permit abortions.

Toews has a simplified view of crime and punishment. His view is if 
you increase the punishment, then the would-be criminal won't do the 
crime. But criminals don't plan to be caught, so the penalty is irrelevant.

Toews wants to increase penalties to appease the right-wingers who 
are big into vengeance. They would be happy to pay taxes to build 
prisons and hire staff.

The money would be better spent concentrating on the root of the 
problem and helping to create a better environment for the poor and needy.

Norval Horner, Conservative MP for Battleford-Kindersley, 1972-74
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