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Harpers plans for security

Stephen Harper is doing a full-court press as Parliament begins its new session. Among the promises is the promise to kill the Liberal's plan to decriminalize marijuana, mandatory sentancing for a variety of serious crimes and several other policing-related issues.

Speaking as a lefty kind of guy, I think that most of these are actually pretty good ideas. First, being a socialista doesn't mean I want rapists and thiefs running around because they got out on early parole. And so, just as soon as they show me the studies that prove more jail time prevents these kinds of crime - "Lock 'em up!". I mean, it's working like gang-busters in the US, right? I mean, they have more people in prison per capita than anywhere in the developed world, and their crime rates are therefore at historic lows, right?

(As a nod to blogaristic integrity, I was just searching for a link to prove that crime rates in the US were high, but they are not particularly so. What I did find, from a bunch of sites, are graphs that show crime rates high into the early 90's and then decreasing and plateauing around 2000. Since then, most crime appears to be on a gradual increase, but still nowhere near the early 90's level. It's interesting that in one of the graphs on this site, the number of people being convicted of felonies is still on the rise. Does this infer better arrest and investigation rates, or is crime still really on the increase? I don't know. Any criminologists out there want to help me out - this stuff is cool, but it's way over my head. To an untutored type like me, it looks like crime rates correlate reasonably well with the improvement in the economy and the unemployment picture in the '90's, but stuffing the prisons overfull also probably has some effect.)

And second I'm happy about his announcement to can decriminalizing pot possession, becuase decriminalization was going to make the penalty of getting caught more ugly, and that's a shame.

See, the way it works right now is if the cops grab you for possession they have to arrest you. That means going to the House, getting a trial date, getting a public defense lawyer, posting bail (or not), the cop showing up for the trial... All because they caught you taking a puff. This is a total pain in the butt for something so minor, and when you take all of the costs into account, outrageously expensive. So what do they do? They say "bad, bad", take away your stash and tell you not to do it again. (If you had a record, were on parole, or perhaps were wanted for something else, the possession charge made for an easy way to stick something to you temporarily while they worked other things out, but for those with a clean record, it was no biggie.) Decriminalizing would change all this - since it meant no jail or court time, just a big fine, it was no problem for the police to dish out some pain for your pleasure. Under this system, people that would normally just lose their ten bucks worth of pot would, under the decriminalized scenario, lose that plus a big fat fine.

And since Harper has not announced that he is going to expand the jails, number of cops, number of legal aid lawyers, etc. etc., all he has done is returned things to their original state, which really isn't all that bad. For Baz, I mean.

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