Pubdate: Fri, 22 Oct 2010
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2010 Vanessa de Jong
Author: Vanessa de Jong


Re: Gov't pushes for tough law on growing pot," The Journal, Oct. 21.

According to a Leger marketing poll done by the QMI agency, more than
half of Canadians want to relax marijuana legislation. Stephen Harper
and his government are trying to go in the polar opposite direction by
enforcing mandatory minimum sentences on the growing of anything more
than five pot plants.

Let's put the Canadian public's opinion aside for a second and just
examine the idea of mandatory minimum sentencing. According to the
introductory-level criminology course that I took at the U of A in my
second year of school, mandatory minimums do not work.

The best way to effectively deter crime, according to many
sociologists, is to give sentences on a case-by-case basis, thereby
taking into account people's situations.

The No. 1 thing I learned in a similarly basic psychology class is
that people act according to the situation they face, not their
underlying personalities.

While the United States seems to be heading away from mandatory
minimums (in 2002, Michigan ended them, saving itself $41 million in
prison costs per year), the Canadian government is heading toward them
full steam ahead. So while crime statistics in Canada are down for the
past decade, Harper is playing on people's fears and at the same time
trying to distract people from all the problems his government is facing.

Harper must have experts around him who have told him the negative
impacts of mandatory minimum sentencing, so we can only assume that he
has chosen to ignore these facts in order to press forward with his
own personal agenda, which is clearly of no benefit to Canadians.

Vanessa de Jong, Edmonton  
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