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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 9, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta 4 7HE LETHBRtDGfc' HERALD Monday, November 9, 1970 a Hitlcliixon Emptying the jails While answering questions at a sus. sion of the Crime, Correction ami You conference on the weekend, Al- Uiniey-Ueni-ral Kelgar Gedrarl made the significant comment that he is "looking lo eliminate a number of pseudo'crimes." As an indication of this he pointed to his recently-an- nounced intention lo eliminate public drunkenness and illegal possession of liquor as offences. Tlie comment was made in re- sponse to a question about imple- mentation of specific recommenda- tions of the McGralh report. It so happened that Mr. W. T. lUcGrath, who did the Alberta penology study, was present at Ihe conference. In his brief appearance before the confer- ence, Air. JlcCiratli said that 75 per cent of the people in prison today are of no to society and that the scope of the criminal process must lie reduced, It is apparent that the attorncy- oene'.'p.' of this province U tuned in on the same wave length as the man who was commissioned lo study our penal system and make recom- mendations for change. That this is the case is rather remarkable. Poli- ticians arc not normally willing to take positions in advance of the think- ing of the general public and there isn't much doubt that emptying the jails is not an objective being pressed vddelv. Keeping people out of the criminal process should he a major concern in society. Mr. Gerhart is to he com- mended for taking a lead in this mat- ler. An educative program can now begin io rally support for further steps in the direction of reducing the offences for which people can be sent io jail. Sending people lo prison is largely a futile business. If the purpose of the penal system is lo reduce future offences it is obviously a highly in- efficient instrument. Far from assist- ing the prisoner to come lo terms with his inadequacies and lo accept a higher degree of personal respon- sibility, a period in jail nearly al- ways "seems to leave a man worse equipped lo lead a law-abiding life than he was when sentenced. Dangerous criminals need to be ta- ken out of circulation. But they form a very small percentage of the peo- ple now classed as criminals. The typical prisoner is a rather pathetic, inadequate individual who fur a vari- ety of reasons is unable to cope with himself and with the society in which he has to live. Victims of alcohol are just the most obvious. People with problems should be channeled lo helping institutions rath- er than holding ones. Not increasing alienation, it, should the aim. the gap widens The results of the Nov. 15 election in Brazil are a foregone conclusion. President Medici, the present dicta- tor and his military regime which seized power in 1964 will be returned with a thumping majority. The only party to run against him is simply window dressing and a pitiful at- tempt at that. In some ways western democratic nations might well envy Brazilians where inflation has been kept down, student dissent is almost unknown and where the economy is enjoying a growth rate of about 9 per cent. The show place, Sau Paulo, is one might call it the Hong Kong of South America. But the facts behind the facts are that inflation has been kept down largely because trade unions are voiceless. The maximum level of wages is fixed and there is mo possibility of disputes or strikes. Dissent is so" severely dealt with that it lias almost disappeared. The city boom doesn't extend much beyond its confines. On city fringes poverty lias reached close to starvation level yet the population continues to explode. No solution has been found to allevi- ate the terrible circumstances in the drought stricken northeast where half the children die before they are five a merciful release. Five per cent of the people own about half the income and four-fifths of the land and military expenses add up to more than twice that spent on educa- tion. Sixty per cent of the people are illiterate.' Plans for development of the huge uncultivated areas are un- derway, some shanty towns are being "destroyed and replaced, but the population growth inexorably vit- iates the effects of these efforts. Many political opponents of the re- gime have gone into exile, radicals have almost disappeared, and ter- rorist activities have diminished. There is no habeas corpus in Bra- zil, no conscience about putting sus- pects in jail and leaving them there. Torture is suspected in some cases. President Medici, although not an out-and-out benevolent dictator, i s nevertheless sensitive to the needs of the people and has shown himself able to withstand military rightists opposed to reform. The question he and his regime are going to have to deal with, if the boom in industry is to continue, is what to do about the half-starved millions of Brazilians who do not participate in its econo- mic rewards, how to force more equitable distribution of the land and how to extend at least a modicum of civil rights without causing a 're- currence of terrorist activities. It's a tall order. Even Chairman Mao might be unable to bring it off. Art Buchwa d WASHINGTON The question that ev- eryone is trying to Figure out is where the Nixon strategy went wrong. Heinrich Applebaum. elite professor of poli- tical science at Moribund University, be- lieves he can pinpoint Use exact moment when President Nixon lost his chance to gain control of the U.S. Senale and House of Representatives. Applebaum told me, liMy surveys indi- cated that up until the Sunday morning before Election Day, President Nixon had il made. The violence issue, thanks to San Jose, had taken hold and an indignant na- tion was waiting to go to the polls and vote out those candidates whom both Nixon and Agncw indicated were permis- sivists who condoned studer.t unrest. I have never seen a better orchestrated campaign, and I was willing to cede the Senate and House lo the "But what happened, Professor, to change the "The pro football games. That's what liappcncd." "I don't understand." "The' Republicans Ixmght time on both SBC and CBS for a special political ap- peal by President Nixon to be aired be- tween halflimes of all the pro football games in live country, il was a blunder colossal proportions." "i don't understand." "Who watches football on Sunday in she United ''The Silent I said "Exactly. The very backbone of this country. Now the Silent Majority is will- ing to listen to anything Ihe president of the United Stales to say six days a week. But, Sunday (hey set aside to watch football. They dun't want !o bear the Vietnamese war. Iho economy, law' ordt'r