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Tory bill proposes mandatory sentencing for dealers (video)

  1. ~lostgurl~
    [​IMG]
    A new entry has been added to Drugs Archive

    Description:

    2 mins
    20 November 2007
    CTV Canada

    The Tory government announced mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug related crimes.

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    Tory bill proposes mandatory sentencing for dealers
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    Tory bill proposes mandatory sentencing for dealers

    Tue. Nov. 20 2007 7:24 PM ET
    CTV.ca News Staff


    The Harper government introduced new legislation Tuesday proposing mandatory sentencing for individuals convicted of serious drug-related crimes as part of the Conservatives' anti-drug strategy.

    Federal Justice Minister Robert Nicholson said the new bill is designed to impose tough sentences on Canadians profiting from organized crime and violence.

    "Our speech from the throne set out our commitment to tackling crime and strengthening the security of Canadians. This new legislation is one more step in that direction," Nicholson said Tuesday during a press conference in Ottawa.

    If passed, Bill C-2 will impose the first mandatory sentences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for people convicted of drug-related crimes. "With today's bill, we are saying that serious drug crimes will mean serious jail time," Nicholson said.

    Despite Nicholson's focus on tougher punishment, Paul Welsh, director of the Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services centre where Nicholson made his announcement, said the government should emphasize treatment.
    "Any effort by any government that focuses on treatment, as opposed to incarceration, is focused on what's effective," he said at the same press conference.

    Some of bill's proposed changes include:
    • One-year mandatory prison sentence for selling marijuana as part of an organized criminal gang or if weapons or violence are involved;
    • Mandatory two-year sentence for dealing illegal drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamines, to youth or for dealing near a school or in an area frequented by youth;
    • Mandatory two-year sentence for operating marijuana grow-ops containing at least 500 plants;
    • The maximum penalty for marijuana production would increase from seven to 14 years;
    • Tougher penalties for trafficking of date-rape drugs;
    • Two-year mandatory prison sentence if convicted of dealing hard drugs such as cocaine or heroin.
    Offenders who successfully complete drug-treatment court programs and who have not committed violent crimes will be eligible for suspended sentences under the proposed legislation.

    "Those individuals who have unfortunately become addicted, we want to get them help but we've made it very clear that those individuals who are in the business of exploiting other people through organized crime, we want to get serious with those individuals," Nicholson said.

    The Conservative government maintains billions of dollars in drug profits are used to fund other criminal activities, making trafficking a highly lucrative business that exploits the addictions of others.

    Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said too many Canadian communities are endangered by gang and gun violence linked to the narcotics industry.
    "The fact that there are people out there involved in the manufacture of serious drugs who care not about destroying the lives of our young people is a very serious matter," Day said Tuesday.

    The legislative reforms are part of the Conservative's two-year $63.8-million anti-drug strategy announced last month. The strategy aims at preventing illegal drug use in young people, treating people who have drug addictions and fighting illegal drug crime.

    New Democrat MP Libby Davies said the government's strategy was mainly designed to please Conservative supporters. "I think it's all about political optics," she said. "They're trying to please their political base without ever examining what are the effective policies that actually work."

Comments

  1. Coconut
    Hm, I can see the rationale now: mandatory sentencing has worked so well in the United States.
  2. rxbandit
    and outlawing substance and incurring heavier sentences, I am fairly sure that encourages organized crime.
  3. Motorhead
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]B.C. WILL NEED MORE JAIL SPACE FOR POT GROWERS

    New Federal Legislation Would Create About 700 More Prisoners Every Year

    B.C. will have to find space in its already crowded jails for about 700 more marijuana growers each year if new mandatory sentences announced by the Conservative government this week are enacted, an analysis of sentencing figures suggests.

    "You basically need a new prison to facilitate that," said Darryl Plecas, a criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley who has studied marijuana sentencing. "You're going to have hundreds, if not thousands, of people going to jail who aren't going now."

    On Tuesday, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson unveiled legislation that would create mandatory minimum sentences for a number of drug offences, including growing marijuana.

    Under the law, someone convicted of growing between one and 200 plants would receive at least six months in jail.

    Those with 201 to 500 plants would go to jail for at least a year.

    And someone with a growing operation of more than 500 plants would get at least a two-year prison sentence.

    The length of all three sentences would increase by 50 per cent if the grower used a rental property for their operation or if they had children in the home.

    The new penalties are in sharp contrast to the current situation in B.C. where, according to recent figures, only about 10 per cent to 15 per cent of convicted growers serve any time in jail at all.

    Instead, most receive house arrest or a fine.

    Based on figures from 2002 to 2004, the most recent data available, about 850 people are convicted of growing marijuana in B.C. each year.

    Currently, about 125 of those go to jail, with an average sentence of about six months.

    That leaves more than 700 growers a year who aren't going to jail now but, if the new law is enacted, almost certainly will.

    According to data collected by Plecas, about 60 per cent of growers caught by police in B.C. have operations of fewer than 200 plants and another 27 per cent have between 200 and 500 plants.

    Under the new rules, most of those growers would end up in provincial jails, which handle all those who receive sentences of less than two years.

    The problem is B.C.'s provincial jails are already full.

    There are 2,735 inmates in provincial jails and about 80 per cent of them are double bunked.

    B.C. Corrections spokesman Lisa Lapointe said it can't handle many more because many prisoners -- either because they are violent, or need to be protected from others -- can't be double bunked.

    "I'd say we're at the limit," she said. "There's no question that the provincial correctional centres are at capacity."

    Lapointe said the agency is planning to open an additional 174 beds by next April, but that's to deal with existing crowding, not any further increase.

    "We haven't projected for that at this point," she said. "Honestly, I don't have an answer for you. I'm not sure where we would put 500 inmates."

    B.C. Solicitor-General John Les acknowledged housing more inmates will be a challenge, but said he supports the new minimum sentences.

    "We'll find a way," he said. "We're not going to let capacity issues stand in the way of appropriately dealing with those who break the law."

    Those convicted of running growing operations of more than 500 plants - -- about 13 per cent of all growers in B.C., according to Plecas' research -- would receive a minimum of two years and be sent to a federal prison.

    Dennis Finlay, a spokesman with the federal Correctional Service, said it's too early to say how it will respond to the new law but added that federal prisons in B.C. are also pretty full, with 2,015 prisoners.

    Finlay said 216 of those prisoners are double bunked in single cells, something the agency tries to avoid for security reasons and because it's less humane for prisoners who must share a 2.5-metre by three-metre cell.

    The cost of housing a prisoner is about $57,000 a year in a provincial jail and $88,000 a year in the federal system.

    In proposing the new law, Nicholson said he hoped it would help "put organized crime out of business."

    But Plecas, who generally supports tougher sentences, said he's doubtful.

    He said the new law may deter some people from getting into the marijuana business in the first place.

    But he said his research suggests most growers are seasoned criminals with lengthy records, people who are unlikely to be scared off by a few months in jail.

    He said the new law may be too tough on first-time growers -- many of whom, he thinks, might be scared away with a simple fine -- while not being tough enough on repeat offenders.

    Plecas said he'd rather see Ottawa impose no mandatory sentences for first-time growers and a minimum five-year sentence for a second conviction.

    [sidebar}

    PRISON CAPACITY IN B.C.

    New mandatory sentences for marijuana growers could result in an extra 700 prisoners per year in B.C. -- whose prisons are already at full capacity. Below is the number of cells in each correctional facility in the province. In many cases, prisons have already exceeded their maximum capacity because many prisoners are double bunked.

    PROVINCIAL JAILS

    Total Cells: 1,911

    Fraser Regional Correctional Centre: 422

    Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre: 274

    North Fraser Pretrial Centre: 490

    Prince George Regional Correctional Centre: 232

    Surrey Pretrial Services Centre: 199

    Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre: 294

    FEDERAL PRISONS

    Total Cells: 1,855

    Kent: 240

    Regional Treatment Centre: 192

    Pacific Institution: 223

    Mission: 238

    Mountain: 276

    Matsqui: 358

    William Head: 140

    Ferndale: 138

    Kwikwexwelhp Healing Village: 50

    ( Source: B.C. Corrections, Correctional Service of Canada )

    [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica] http://drugsense.org/url/156UTORh[/FONT]
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