Re: Crime and Punishment (Dr Williams)

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 49, No. 9, November 2007, Page 472 Letters

I couldn’t agree more with Dr Salvian (BCMJ 2007;5:227) that medical journals and physicians should be discussing crime. I think that physicians and experts in public health can make real contributions to this area and to community safety in general.

I do not agree, though, with Dr Salvian’s approach. In fact, I do not recall reading such a mean-spirited screed in a reputable medical journal for a long time. Certainly crime needs to be taken seriously and most people clearly are to be held responsible for their actions. However, a more thoughtful approach than Dr Salvian’s knee-jerk reaction is more becoming to us as medical professionals. Piling on penalties, throwing people into jail, and removing youth from their communities is just perpetutating problems. Many more effective alternatives exist including mental health diversion, drug treatment programs, school- and family-based interventions, such as multisystemic therapies, restorative justice programs, and so on.

Please in the future contribute valuable discussions to this serious matter.

—Bruce Williams, MD
Willowdale, ON

Bruce Williams, MD,. Re: Crime and Punishment (Dr Williams). BCMJ, Vol. 49, No. 9, November, 2007, Page(s) 472 - Letters.

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