Dear Editor:

I am not in agreement with the Crime Bill C-10. It will make inequality worse.

Its not tough on crime; its tough on Canadians suffering from mental illness, addictions, and poverty. It targets youth for harsher punishments, and it will put more Aboriginal people in prison.

This crime bill threatens valuable programs. Mandatory sentences will clog the justice system and fill prisons, forcing the provinces, which pay for most of our justice system, to raise taxes, increase debt, or cut spending on essential programs like health and education.

It is time that we as a community speak out publicly to our politicians. Prime Minister Harper claims that Canadians support tough on crime laws, but I think that thousands of Canadians would ask that their provinces refuse to pay for Crime Bill C-10. Quebec and Ontario have already refused to pay for a strategy that has been tried, and failed.

We need to make Canada safer, not meaner. To reduce crime we should focus on whats already working prevention and rehabilitation and address the major causes of crime by reducing inequality and supporting people who need help.

This cruel Crime Bill will do none of this, and ultimately will make us meaner, and less safe. I am no expert but it seems to me that mandatory sentences backfire. They take precious resources from crime prevention programs and rehabilitation, and turn minor offenders into hardened criminals.

Put the money in the hands of the RCMP or other law enforcement strategies that work.

I have heard that Conservative Texans are warning us not to follow a failed fill-the-prisons approach to justice, and the Canadian Bar Association, representing 37,000 Canadian legal professionals, has said Crime Bill C-10 …would move Canada along a road that has failed in other countries, at great expense,

I encourage others to not stand on the sidelines on this issue. It seems to me that we are targeting the disadvantaged and marginalized at a time when they need support, not prison.

David Farrell, Windermere