Excerpt from the Star Phoenix:

“Harsher sentences will not decrease youth crime, says the founder of a Saskatoon-based program that has helped more than 450 young people leave gangs.

On Tuesday, the provincial government released its report on crime after speaking with rural residents and others. One key recommendation calls for “increased consequences for crimes committed by young offenders.”

Catholic priest André Poilièvre, founder of Str8 Up, says there’s no evidence a crackdown would decrease crime.

“It just won’t work,” Poilièvre said. “Suppression won’t work. What you need is intervention.”

Poilièvre, who has decades of experience with street gangs and inmates, said the young person’s loneliness and pain must be addressed. Focus on poverty, housing, racism and other societal issues rather than the length of sentences, he said.

“What is the cause that brings these young people to think that they’re going to find recognition and meaning in their lives by joining a gang? It’s not by more punishment,” Poilièvre said.”

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