Thursday, June 25, 2009

6 Reasons why Mandatory Minimums for Drug Crimes are bad Idea

1) Imprisoning someone is hugely expensive and in terms of bang for your buck, by far and away the worst form of crime prevention.

2) Longer sentences do not deter junkies in anyway. The research on this is clear. The same goes for gang bangers. With regard to gang bangers, it is the likelihood of arrest and not the severity of punishment that deters them.

3) Conservatives are using a dragnet approach and this causes more harm then good. Mandatory minimums, especially for drug crimes, radically curtail social mobility and encourages social dislocation. With all the emphasis conservatives place on "family values", you would think that conservatives would realize having a critical mass of young fathers in lower income neighborhoods in jail does not do wonders for "family values". Once you get a critical mass of ex cons in area, the prospect of taking back that neighborhood from the gangs is virtually nil.

4) With all the focus the Conservatives have given to crime issues you would think that it is of foremost concern. However, crime is not a problem in Canada. The Conservatives --- and Liberals -- are promising to build a bridge when there is no body of water. Crime is down and becoming more concentrated among those on the margins of society. If one is not involved in the drug trade or prostitution, the chances of one being a victim of a violent crime are very slight indeed.

5) Locking up more and more gang members is no way to weaken the reach of gangs. The individuals might suffer but the organizations thrive. Indeed, plenty of gangs started as prison gangs (e.g., the Red Command and the PCC is Brazil and the Aryan Brotherhood in the US) and other gangs spread as result (e.g., the Crips and Bloods).

6) Yes drug related crime is going through the roof. However, cracking down on drugs, ,especially now, does more harm than good. There is near universal agreement on experts that mandatory minimums for drug related offensives do not reduce crime. A better approach would be to decriminalize the possession of all drugs a la what Portugal did, adopt heroin maintenance programs a la what the Swiss did and above all legalize marijuana. Marijuana is the seed capital for whole host of criminal activities. We need to nip this is the bud.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's a seventh: most people who use cannabis for medical purposes are currently getting their supply from small scale, mom and pop growers, under 100 plants mostly.

These people will exit the market quickly if C-15 passes the Senate, and patients will be left with either the substandard pot from the mine in Flin Flon, or crappy gangster-grown pot from the big boys, which have adapted their tactics already.

This is an indirect way to kill off the compassion clubs (which are grey market and buy from small scale growers) and make pot unpopular again. It's simply an extension of the culture wars.

The bill should die or at the very least, have pot removed from it. Incidently, there are reports coming out of Kamloops that the a new batch of Mounties there are hassling even legal medical growers since they are given the whole "pot is bad" brainwashing at Depot. It's disgraceful.