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Mandatory sentences are always a bad idea except when they’re a good one

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson backs a crime bill he once opposed


 

A lot can change in 22 years. Take Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s opinion about drug laws, for example. Today, he’s pushing to pass a crime bill that includes mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. Among other other measures, anyone found with five or more marijuana plants would have to serve a minimum of six months in prison. In 1988, however, Nicholson took up arms against the very same proposition. While serving as a Mulroney backbencher, Nicholson was vice-chair of a parliamentary committee that examined mandatory minimum sentences. In a report titled “Taking Responsibility,” the committee argued against that very type of sentencing, insisting such guidelines “have had the undesirable effect of contributing to rapidly increasing prison populations in the United States.” A spokesperson for Nicholson explained the change of heart by citing the government’s firm belief that “for certain offences […] a minimum period of incarceration is justified.”

The Hill Times


 
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Mandatory sentences are always a bad idea except when they’re a good one

  1. Yeah, but changing public opinion does nothing about the facts. Your job, Rob, is to lead on this file, and running to the front of the mob carrying the pitchforks and torches isn't leading.

    Perhaps the problem is the one thing that Rob left out — political party leadership changes, and with it the prospects for ones own career if you don't agree with Harper.

  2. too bad the current crop of Minister were incapable of having a real conversation/being honest. would love to hear what Nicholson would have to say.

    • I hate the whole 'party discipline' theme that stifles debate. I want my public policy debates to happen out in the open where I can see them.

  3. Orrrrrrrrr, perhaps the intervening period has provided Canada with an unprecedented hegemony of activist liberal (and Liberal) judiciary deciding that their bully pulpit from the head of the bench somehow entitles them to 'sentence' these individuals in a manner that befits a sick, twisted joke, with Canadian society the unwitting straight man. And perhaps the CPC-led government (and the minister leading the applicable ministry) is trying to neutralize this "legislating from the bench" as most intelligent Canadians have been demanding for the past decade.

    • If those lefty judiciary types continue to see a decline in violent crime, they have my support.

      Punishment for punishment's sake never reduces crime.

    • Prisons are drug havens. Maybe the judiciary understands that convicting drug addicts to six months jail terms only serves to put them into situations where they are likely to abuse drugs. And, in fact, possibly causing them to become institutionalized offenders; which is the biggest problem with the US model.

      Frankly, the easiest solution is to let people do what they want with their bodies, regulate commercial distribution of marijuana, and focus on real drugs.

  4. "I have no idea what you're talking about. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia."

  5. The Tories, with their rigid, intolerant ideology and tactics that suppress, even punish, dissent, are Taliban Lite.

  6. it's good to get tough on crime but marijuana isn't the thing to be targetting , the government should be making money off of vices …real crimes are violence and theft ..anything with a real victim and not an imagined one …the government right now is the number one profiteer from alcohol, cigarettes, gambling and lotteries ..maybe they need to throw in the escort and marijuana industries then we will save a tonne of money on enforcenement and have billions in new tax revenue

    • Ca-ching!

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