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Letter to the Editor: Harsher laws won't make us safer

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

To the editor:

I am highly disappointed in the bills put forth by state Sen. John Loudon which would increase criminal penalties for certain offenders and by state Rep. Gary Dusenberg which would tag sex offenders with a special driver's license.

As a criminology and criminal justice graduate student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, I can state with a fair amount of certainty that neither bill will make people safer in Missouri. In fact, empirical studies are fairly conclusive that harsher punishments do not reduce crimes and that stigmatizing certain offenders makes them more -- not less -- likely to offend.

If lawmakers really want to make a dent, they should adequately research the laws they propose and then adequately fund the laws they currently have so they work like they're supposed to and not just blindly pass Draconian laws which may feel good but do nothing to prevent crime.

BRIAN E. OLIVER, St. Louis