Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Liberal Manitoba's crime prevention strategies -- It's better than getting tough on crime!

A back-to-basics approach to crime prevention
Justice policy under the NDP and the Tories has shared three strategies:
  1. making headline-grabbing announcements of “tough-on-crime” policies that don’t work;
  2. underfunding police and Crown attorneys, with the result that their work suffers and cases fall apart, and
  3. blaming the Federal Liberals.
If the Federal criminal code is to blame, why are the rates for car theft, property crime and murder so much higher in Manitoba than in the rest of the country?
The answer is that the both the NDP and the Tories have let social problems fester, ignored crime prevention and failed to support front-line police work. The NDP and PC’s both had gang megatrials collapse. The PC’s justice legacy is a $5-million high-security courthouse that has never been used. The 2004 trial of Hells Angels and associates accused of arson and conspiracy to commit murder fell apart, having cost taxpayers $2.2 million.
Policies to improve communities under the NDP government have failed. Government run housing remains substandard and residents in abysmal conditions have repeatedly pleaded with the Manitoba Housing Authority and the current NDP government for help. There has been no focus to improve Winnipeg’s crumbling downtown.
Manitoba Liberals will use practical, proven policies to reduce crime and restore community safety. We will balance strict enforcement and enhanced community policing with a commitment to addressing the root causes of crime, addressed earlier in the platform.
Ensuring Safer Communities Put More Feet on the Street
Manitoba Liberals will make funding for community policing a priority. Our goal is to strengthen the relationship between police and the communities they serve, reduce crime through an enhanced police presence, and improve response times. We will provide increased funding for:
  • More police officers for the City of Winnipeg and rural communities
  • Professional development programs to improve education and training for police officers
  • Community safety programs
More Resources for Crown Prosecutors
Crown attorneys are so overburdened and underfunded that in December, 2006 they filed a grievance for working in “burnout” conditions. Prosecutors in Winnipeg had 300 cases each, while rural prosecutors had 700 cases each.
Underfunding increases the risk of mistakes and delays that result in criminals going free.
Manitoba Liberals will increase the resources available to Crown prosecutors to ensure more effective prosecutions.
Real Consequences for Car Theft
Under the PC’s and the NDP, Manitobans have had to endure the rates of car theft rates in Canada. This is in part a result of both parties’ catastrophic failures when it comes to Child and Family Services. But car theft is a serious crime and it needs to have serious consequences. Immobilizers are not enough: we need to deter car thieves, not just make it harder to steal cars.
  • Manitoba Liberals will make driving a stolen car an offense punishable by jail time under the highway traffic act.
  • Driving a stolen car, or being convicted of car theft will result in being banned for life from receiving a driver’s license for repeat offenders.
Building Stronger Communities

Pride in Ownership: Making It Easier To Own Your Own Home
Communities where people own their own homes are safer and more stable. Crime rates decrease and vandalism is less frequent. Liberals will make up to half of the interest paid on mortgage payments tax deductible towards the purchase of a principle residence for first time home owners.
Focus On Neighborhood Renewal Programs
We would focus on neighbourhood renewal programs that provide renters with incentives to help them to buy their own home. We will:
  • Allow people receiving social assistance to keep their homes until they are back on their feet
  • We will also allow housing tenants the option of using their housing allowance under social assistance to ‘buy in’ to co-operative housing as a resident-owner.
Youth Prevention & Intervention
The NDP has touted its “Lighthouse Program” as addressing the root causes of crime, especially youth crime. Yet Winnipeg and Manitoba have some of the highest rates of car theft and property crime in Canada. That is because the Lighthouse program has spent a pittance: between 2000 and 2004 Lighthouse funding averaged $7,812.50 per centre per year. In 2005-2006, it averaged $12,697 per site. This level of funding is totally inadequate when the cost of car theft alone in Manitoba is over $20 million annually. Manitoba Liberals will make a substantive investment in community centre programming, equipment and infrastructure especially for at-risk-youth.
Promoting “Smart Growth” in Manitoba’s Cities and Towns
Under the Tories and the NDP, there has been a general lack of planning when it comes to our urban centres, and it has hurt our cities. Downtown Winnipeg in particular is an embarassment, but rather than developing a coherent long-term strategy, they have focused on one-off megaprojects which create as many problems as they solve. The barriers at Portage & Main killed street-level businesses while Portage Place led to the demise of businesses on South Portage, before going into decline.
A Manitoba Liberal Government will promote “Smart Growth” principles when it comes to developments in the City of Winnipeg and other urban centres in Manitoba. These include:
  • Supporting the development of rapid transit in Winnipeg, including the option of light rail
  • Making residential re-development the focus of improving City Centres in Manitoba, including Winnipeg’s downtown
  • Promoting dense, mixed-use residential and business development that is well-supported by public transit
  • Providing incentives for “infill” developments, especially multi-family developments in and around city centres and surrounding neighbourhoods
  • Bringing together the Capital Region municipalities to develop a win-win plan for the
  • future development of the area.
“Manitoba has become known in the criminal underworld as the place to be if you want to commit crimes and not get caught.”
- Author & Hells Angels Expert Yves Lavigne
Manitoba’s crime rate is 60-85% higher than the Canadian average and Ontario
Many of the NDP’s measures to shut down crystal meth labs, seize gang clubhouses and suspend the driver’s licences of “johns” have NEVER BEEN USED by police or prosecutors.
  • Winnipeg is the car theft capital of Canada
  • Between 1995 and 2005 car theft in Canada as a whole dropped by 10%, but in Winnipeg it increased by 40%
  • Winnipeg’s car theft rate is 60% higher than Edmonton or Regina, 400% higher than Calgary and 500% higher than Toronto
In 2000, the cost of auto theft in Manitoba was 22.8 million dollars
The cost between 1999 and 2005 is more than $170-million
Number of Vehicles Stolen in Winnipeg 1995-2005
2005 11,736
2004 13,425
2003 10,454
2002 8,280
2001 10,662
2000 9,568
1999 8,710
1998 8,470
1997 9,033
1996 8,349
1995 7,887
Sources: Winnipeg Police Service, Statistics Canada, ICAM Manitoba Check-Up 2006, CBC, Winnipeg Free Press

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