Longer jail sentences do not solve crime

By Allison McDonald

The government is looking at changing all aspects of the criminal code, from a possible Native court equal to the Supreme court to a complete revamping of the Young Offenders Act.

One proposed change is to create tougher penalties for crimes committed against children. The government, and we as a nation, are making an unproven leap of causality linking the severity of every punishment to the severity of the crime. A sick and demented person who abuses young kids is not doing so because of the slack prison sentence. The sick person is thinking about the twisted pleasure of the moment. Nevertheless, increasing punishment seems to be the just act. Think about what is at stake. Government officials who lobby for lengthy jail terms say this involves the children and let’s try and protect them. A very safe statement, especially when an election is in the near future. Don’t misunderstand me, crime against the helpless is wrong. But I ask you, will longer jail sentences protect children? No. Longer jail sentences only remove the guilty from the child. Sure, the kid doesn’t have to deal with beatings. Instead, he has to deal with the stigma of not having a father, as well as issues of being a victim. The child was not helped, no crime was prevented, but society feels better about the problem because it is addressed. What we have actually done is the equivalent of cleaning the room by putting the mess in the closet. If we really cared about protecting the helpless, we would create a system where we could prevent neglect, abuse and assault. A support structure would exist for parents who do not know how to manage anger and there would be an accessible counseling network to break negative cycles from the parents childhood is how crimes against children are prevented. Programs to improve parenting and prevent crime against children are in the child’s best interest. Programs to keep the abuser in jail act only as punishment, not as prevention.

The conservative nature of our legislative system will not implement helpful social programs because it costs too much money. In essence, we are saying that money is more important than a child’s life. Instead of addressing crime we are happy to slap Offenders wrists harder and pretend the problem is gone–it’s not. Stricter penalties for the sick and perverted are not deterrents. Do not let yourself be fooled by a cosmetic scheme, set up by the government. Think for yourselves and you too will see the giant missing link between child crime and punishment.

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