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.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Canada doesn't need more tough on crime legislation

Our country doesn't need mroe tough on crime legislation

There are liars, damn liars and statisticians who never tire of pointing out anomalies such as Abbotsford-Mission being Canada's murder capital.
It recorded more homicides per capita than any other metropolitan area in 2009 -- oh, my!
Nine. There were nine murders in Abbotsford-Mission.
Still, with only 160,000 residents, that works out to a lot "per capita."
If I lived out there, I don't think I'd be rushing to sell my house.
The volume of 2009 police-reported data released Tuesday by Statistics Canada revealed yet again we are a nation managing to combat evil without the federal Conservatives' ultraexpensive tough-on-crime program.
We should all take heart that the trend of the last decade has produced a greater than 20-per-cent drop in criminal offences. That's amazing.
For the sixth year in a row, from sea unto sea unto sea, the number of crimes fell dramatically -- 43,000 fewer than in 2008, which saw a decrease of 77,000 from 2007.
And we're talking about significant reductions in the kind of crimes that affect everybody and leave all of us feeling violated and vulnerable -- 17,000 fewer motor vehicle thefts, 10,000 fewer mischief offences and 5,000 fewer break-ins.
Still, some of the quirky statistical facts that surface among the data, such as the killing fields of Abbotsford, remain counterintuitive.
Much-celebrated centres of Prairie neighbourliness -- Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg -- look like violent outposts, Toronto a peaceable place.
Hogtown's seemingly as safe as pastoral Guelph or Disneylike Quebec City.
Hardly. When you focus on mathematical ratios, you can often get a distorted picture because of the small numbers involved in the violent-crime categories.
The numbers, nevertheless, shed a lot of light on the effectiveness of existing public safety policies and dispel the darkness of Tory fearmongering to support more prisons and tougher mandatory jail sentences.
Even kids have not escaped Justice Minister Rob Nicholson's anachronistic wrath: Spare the rod and you know what happens seems to be his rationale for stiffening juvenile penalties.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, too, is touting the end of two-for-one credit for time served in pre-trial custody as a great achievement.
The cost of that popular but controversial change is estimated to be at least $2 billion over five years, up from the original estimate of only $90 million over two years.
The price of the entire Conservative plan is simply sky-high -- perhaps $10 billion or more in increased policing, prosecution and corrections expenses.
"It does cost money to incarcerate people and I believe that Canadians have been willing to pay those costs up to this point and they'll continue to do so," Nicholson responds.
"What's the cost to victims when violent individuals are out on the street that shouldn't be?"
The government insists the Opposition is "soft on crime" and has delayed the Conservatives' most controversial measures. There are good reasons for such delays.
This package of solutions to a faux problem is a recipe for uncontrollable spending that will make the gun registry spree look prudent.
That's why -- with the feds trying to stir up emotions to support a tougher approach to crime and punishment -- the StatsCan report was refreshing, hopeful news.
If nothing else, it exposes the scofflaw-and-disorder legerdemain.
As the figures indicate, over the last decade, this country has become a safer, more civilized place.
We don't need to spend billions building more prisons to accommodate mandatory jail terms and 19th-century sentences. Our laws are working just fine.
It also explains why the Tories might want to eliminate the long-form census -- it's dreadful when political discussions get clouded by facts.

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