If you voted for Stephen Harper then don’t complain when you find out down the road that your hard-earned tax dollars have been wasted on his ‘tough-on-crime’ legislation. Even the state of Texas, where they execute more people (probably) per year than China, they have discovered that crime rates drop (as well as taxes) when you spend your money wisely on rehabilitation programs, and not on prisons.

Conservative Texans (as if there are any democrats living there) found themselves supporting progressive approaches to fighting crime because they didn’t want to pay higher taxes to build more prisons, which, they finally realized, did not lower the crime rate. Similarly, in California, it was Republicans who spearheaded programs focusing on rehabilitation of criminals in the community (rather than throwing them in jail along with the key) because they realized that for every wasted dollar spent on prisons in California there was a corresponding dollar that was taken away from education.

Here’s another thing that conservatives even get: if we don’t throw them in prison, and instead we rehabilitate them, then they can get a job and pay taxes, rather than drain the public purse.

So, if you voted for Mr. Harper, and you can hear anything beyond his rhetoric, please speak out and tell him that you don’t want to pay more taxes down the road, you want our streets to be safe, and that he should be spending your money on social programs that work, not on prisons.

So, I now pose this question to those of you who didn’t vote for Stephen Harper, and who don’t believe that we should be wasting taxpayers dollars by building more prisons: What can we do to convince our misguided Conservative friends to stand up to Mr. Harper and tell him to stop politicizing the criminal justice system, and to, instead, start a real honest debate- one that looks at the real stats on the ground- about what kind of country we want to live in.

Do we want to heed the lessons recently learned in the United States, which has finally discovered after about 30 years of failed law-and-order policies that they can no longer afford to lock up so many people, especially when the better alternative lowers crime and costs less? Or do we want to ignore history and be destined to repeat it? Geez, isn’t this a no-brainer? Or, is that exactly the problem with our politicians: they have no brains.

One final word: as a criminal defence counsel, I firmly believe that we should take this debate to another level and ask ourselves this question- Why aren’t we addressing the social problems that lead to crime- poverty, lack of education, poor health, violence, and abuse. Why are we cutting children’s mental health programs when we know that they work, and that they lead to lower healthcare and criminal justice costs down the road? I wonder if conservative Americans will figure this one out too (I doubt it).

Stephen Hebscher represents clients facing a “tough on crime” prison sentence, including charges of murder, aggravated sexual assault, other sexual offences, attempted murder, robbery, firearms offences, drug offences (including marijuana grow op cases), domestic assault, driving offences, fraud and fraud-related offences – if you require a defence lawyer, or would like a free-no-obligation consultation, call 416-550-6554 to discuss your case.

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