LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Crime and punishment

Letters to the Editor/Opinion by

Re: “National Insecurity” by Brendan Steven (16.03.10)

In his article “National Insecurity,” Brendan Steven irresponsibly conflates two serious issues: counter-terrorism practices and the lengthening of prison sentences in Canada.

After a lament about the difficulties of conducting counter-terrorism operations in Canada, Steven cited Stephen Harper’s attempts to increase prison sentences for crime among “actions that make Canada safer.”

I invite Steven to consider that, according to a recent Statistics Canada publication, “the crime rate has decreased by about 30 per cent since peaking in 1991” (Juristat: “Crime Statistics in Canada” Vol. 27, no. 5). The length of prison sentences has little to do with crime trends, much less terrorism.

If Steven still wants to argue for a postive correlation between increased prison sentences and security – especially in the context of terrorism, I hope he reflects on the situation of my homeland, the United States. My people have languished under the harshest prison sentences in the Western world. We have also suffered from the most heinous acts of terrorism, perpetrated by the likes of Timothy McVeigh, Mohamed Atta, and, just last month, Joseph Stack. It would be nice if increasing security was as easy as increasing prison sentences. Unfortunately it’s not, and implying the contrary while politicizing the issue is irresponsible.

– William HahmU3 Arts