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Mar 13, 2012

Prevention v. Punishment

I'm nearly certain that if you ask any parent what their worst nightmare is, it will involve something bad happening to their child.  And it almost always is due to something that the parent had no control over.

Today I've been reading the reports out of a London, Ontario courtroom where Michael Rafferty is on trial for murdering 8-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford. Tori was walking home by herself after school when she was approached by Teri McClintic. Ms. McClintic has pleaded guilty to murder for luring Tori into a car where Mr. Rafferty was waiting. According to testimony given by Ms. McClintic today, this little girl was sexually assaulted by Mr. Rafferty before Ms. McClintic hit her over the head - twice - with a hammer.  Tori was then left in the woods under some rocks, where her body was found three months later.

This story makes me heartsick. I hugged my children closer today, grateful to God that they are safe.

Not unrelated, is the news out of Ottawa that the Conservative government has passed C-10, its omnibus crime bill. The bill calls for stiffer penalties for all sorts of criminals - primarily child pornographers and sex offenders - and offers lots of job creation in the form of new prisons.  I am not a fan of this bill, and not just because the hard evidence out of jurisdictions that have implemented this type of crime bill (i.e. Texas, California) is increased crime and overcrowded prisons with more repeat offenders.  I disagree with it because I would rather that my tax dollars go toward preventing the Michael Raffertys and Teri McClintics of the world from every committing these horrible crimes in the first place.

Both Michael Rafferty and Teri McClintic came from troubled backgrounds. They were kids that never had a chance, never really had anyone looking out for them and, as a result of growing up without any kind of moral compass, Tori Stafford lost her life. This isn't to say that kids from "good" homes with involved parents don't do unspeakable things. They do.  But you can see the results of a Safe Communities approach here.

I think that Michael Rafferty and Teri McClintic should face severe punishment for what they did. But I would much rather that they didn't do it in the first place.

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