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On mandatory minimums

July 18th, 2012 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Work

There was a terrible shooting at a street party in Toronto. Two people, including a teenage girl, were killed and 19 more were injured. The shooting has caused outrage in the city and concern in other parts of the country, especially coming so soon on the heels of the Eaton Centre shooting.

The Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews, took the opportunity to chastise judges for striking down the mandatory minimum sentences for gun crime that the Harper government included in its Safe Streets and Communities Act.

Because that’s the first thing we all thought of, right?

One of the things that frustrates me most about the current government is their almost total refusal to focus on the future. If we provided better daycare opportunities, better early childhood education and rehabilitation of high risk youth, we would give all of us a better future. Instead the Conservatives have decided to be “tough on crime” – while shutting down prisons, forcing double bunking in jail cells which is increasing prison violence, and cutting rehabilitation programs, leaving high risk youth to the system.

While police are still gathering facts, the Minister decided that this shooting was prime opportunity to speak out against judges who have been refusing mandatory minimums. Judges who, unlike Toews, know the details of the cases they are hearing.

Rather than assuming they are right and everyone else is wrong, this government could take some time to review what is actually happening and adjust their thinking to help make things better overall rather than what they call safer for the time being.

They say they are focusing on the victims of crime, but they are missing the opportunity to prevent future victimization.

Related Reading:

Toronto Star Editorial: Scarborough shooting a missed opportunity to re-think tough on-crime approach

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