We like this comment from Toronto criminal defense lawyer Steven Tress, criticizing new mandatory minimum sentences passed this year in Canada's Safe Streets and Communities Act:
“Mandatory minimums are like cutting off the hand of someone who steals. It may deter them in the short term, but if you haven’t addressed the root of why they are stealing in the first place, your streets will not be any safer, which is ironic given the name of the act.”The statement is true down here in the U.S. of A, too. Giving people harsh, long, expensive mandatory minimum prison terms has never been proven to get at the real causes of crime, scare others away from crime, or rehabilitate prisoners (especially if prisons cost us so much that we can't afford proven-effective prison programs like drug treatment and job training). Like hacking off a limb, mandatory minimums do more harm than good in too many cases.