The Hamilton Spectator

The cost of doing too little

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Re: Keep criminals off the street (March 9)

Like most people, I am afraid of what harm a criminal can do to me and everyone else, so yeah, it is easy to think incarcerat­ion is the answer.

But, as in the case of the letter writer, having a strong feeling that “mandatory sentences would stop crimes” without offering any evidence in support of that position, well that is just mindless beaking off.

The briefest research effort will tell you that, of criminals released from U.S. prisons, 55 per cent are unable to find work. Is that surprising? No. Does it help the situation? Again, no. And it is a no-brainer that in addition to career criminals, a good number of these folks will revert to crime to support themselves. So there is a clear opportunit­y to get convicts into work placements that will benefit us all.

Then there is the profusion of drug-related crime. Decades ago I learned about supply and demand in economics class. Doesn’t the same principle apply here? For all those people doing recreation­al coke, they create the gruesome underworld that provides their high, and similar scenarios apply to stronger drugs I would expect. What work is being done to get users off this nasty stuff?

Then there is the big issue of how poverty works against people becoming productive members of society, with the consequenc­e of crime holding a greater appeal to them. Measures such as a living wage and decent, safe housing should mitigate against that effect, should it not? But society is failing miserably in supporting those who need a helping hand.

Programs have a cost; that is certainly true. But every day in the news, we see the cost of doing too little.

Emil Andrew Sekerak, Beamsville

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