The Conservative Party in Canada is proposing mandatory minimum prison sentences in drug cases, says the Toronto Star. The newspaper compares the move to one in the United States in the 1970s, when politicians called for similar measures knowing “there was little they could do about the `root causes’ of crime, especially in the short run,” said U.S. criminologists Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie-Mellon University and Alex Piquero of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in a new paper.
Craig Jones of Ottawa-based John Howard Society of Canada, understands why voters like the idea. “Cracking down on crime makes people feel good. It appeals to the punitive impulse. The fact that it doesn’t do good doesn’t come out until years later when the auditor general says, `Well, here’s what you got for your money – basically, nothing.'” The Star says the approach “is now widely discredited south of the border where 2.2 million people are behind bars, making the U.S. the world leader in imprisonment – at a cost of $60 billion a year. And while the crime rate has come down, there’s little evidence to suggest it relates to greater rates of incarceration.”