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How do you feel about the federal Conservatives’ “tough on crime” agenda?


 

 
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How do you feel about the federal Conservatives’ “tough on crime” agenda?

  1. These guys are all about mob justice. However, since there will always be a healthy proportion of the population who feel a need to DO SOMETHING – evidence and outcomes be damned – I guess there's little point arguing just how stupid and shortsighted the neocon "tough on crime" nonsense generally is.

    That said, the elimination of 2 for 1 pre-sentencing credit was a rare example of a reasonable action on their part. For once, evidence was at the root of the policy, as opposed to knee-jerk anger and idiocy.

    • "there will always be a healthy proportion of the population who feel a need to DO SOMETHING – evidence and outcomes be damned"

      FWIW I think that's the thing here — part of justice is that vengeance be seen to have been exacted. I mean, sentencing somebody to a week or two in jail for their third act of petty theft may not be cost-effective in any way, or a solution to some kind of major social problem, or do anything to help them reform and stop thieving, but it makes the victim feel better; at least, it makes them not feel completely powerless. Our justice system has become so just and so sociologically astute that it no longer takes the Thirst for Vengeance into account; and while Canadians are so law-abiding that they will never, I wager, embrace vigilantism, they are liable to become frustrated at the violation of their personal self-respect by petty criminals.

      • Jack, while fully embrace the premise of your post ("part of justice is that vengeance be seen to have been exacted"), I can't fully agree with your argument that "justice system has become so just and so sociologically astute" that it no longer takes the Thirst for Vengeance into account (for example I think it was clear that Robert Latimer's treatment mixed equal parts (attempt at) deterrent and vengeance and had little to with sociological astuteness or efficiency or much else).

        that being said we def have less vengeance in our treatment of crime then we once did, and while i concur that vigilantism is unlikely to be the solution (prob a good thing), I think we can get more creative than jail, no?

        • Oh, I totally agree that jail is counterproductive in every way. I'm just saying that I can see why people might think that crime is worsening when, statistically and sociologically, we've rarely if ever been in better shape. I don't know what to think about the Latimer case, but in any event I'm thinking more about those very low-level crimes that objectively have no effect on society but collectively serve to undermine confidence in the justice system when they effectively go unpunished.

          • There is something of a tension between the desire for punishment and the desire for safety. I think the Conservatives tend to do a good job of conflating the two, or at least tapping into the visceral emotion of the former to promise the latter. And Canadians are often unreflective in failing to distinguish the two. Wanting a safer neighbourhood may require surrendering the subjective impulse to lynch.

          • "I can see why people might think that crime is worsening"

            yeah i don't disagree on that part Jack, i just wish that rather than resort to traditional means of vengeance we could develop more innovative approaches. for example, I am big fan of non-custodial public shaming. i don't think we have come anywhere having tapped our potential there…. the public shaming would provide a source of less physically violent vengeance and would be visible to the masses to know that something is being done. may well be a better deterrent even.

          • I think fear of crime – in the face of its actual decline – might speak to our society becoming increasingly anonymous in nature. We live largely insulated lives, with our relationships outside the nuclear family often being partial and functional. All of that can easily allow fear to creep in, and creates a general sense of impotence to do anything about it.

            I'm not so sure about public shaming, but I agree with the idea that solutions ought to have a strong community, or social dimension to them. Perhaps some combination of shaming (or individual accountability to the community) and avenues for willing individuals to reincorporate too?

          • That is a really intuitive comment. At this point the comments to this poll are definately one of the best individually and as a group I've ever seen on the web and certainly put question period to shame.

            I disagree with the basic framing that's been put forward about the "vengeance" of a tough on crime attitude and especially with the sociological description of the supposed mob. It's something I've noticed as becoming too essential to how 'left-liberals' evaluate viewpoints opposite to their way of thinking. It's stemming from overwhelmingly liberal sociologists who make it their academic project to explain how someone can hold political views that, in their worldview, are rooted in unscientific tradition and persist regardless of the facts. The problem is it completely precludes any honest engagement with the preferences and values of the other side.

            You can describe a punitive attitude towards justice as sociologically explainable and plain mob vengeance that is counterproductive to boot… but nevertheless without making that actually so. (continued)

          • It isn't hard for conservatives to describe 'soft on crime' as the product of the fair wishes of the left and sociologically determined by the worldview that individuals are essentially good and only commit 'crimes' the the extent that the System has failed their better nature. (And so it becomes churlish and unfair to punish someone who has by that definition already been punished by ill winds of Society.) The childish 'soft on crime' corollary to the childishness of seeking a simple punitive answer to a perfect world is that 'imaginative' and wonderfully kind restorative justice will also lead to an enlightened painless solution.

            My point is that condescending sociological explanations for the viewpoint of the other side actually do explain the unfactual reasons people hold those views, but they don't actually evaluate how true they are. (continued)

          • It took me that long to prepare the ground to actually put out what I think and here it is… First that putting punitive justice and resorative justice in separate boxes is a mistake. Anecdotally, the bully of my grade ended up in Juvie and cleaned up after that, and I can't believe that there was nothing to the tradition of authoritarian, punitive boarding schools for 'delinquents'. I think that measured punishment that is seen as justified very clearly imprints on a person a sense of what's immoral when their own positive conscience didn't. 'Spare the rod, spoil the child' isn't modern but that doesn't mean it's entirely untrue. Where some see leftover vestiges of tradition others see enduring truth and I don't think the choice is 'a' or 'b'.

            Viscerally, I think what I'm really defending or defensive about is the belief that justice can involve vengeance. Call it 'filthy emotion' or a 'temper tantrum' but I am unshakeably more in sympathy with the justice that hung a rapist a hundred years ago than with the justice that lets him go half a dozen times today. (continued)

          • Vengeance might be the Big Guy's but that hardly means it's somehow inevitable that someone who does something like that is not permanently separated from society. And the argument that punitive attitudes towards crime are not justified based on the recently falling crime rate presupposes that this has nothing to do with 'punitive' justice. Certainly the common wisdom on the right is that the explosion of crime in the '60's and its relatively recent fall is because realistic sentencing is only just recovering from the drug induced epiphany that crime was the fault of the System. Obviously that's what I think is the best explanation. (continued one more time. Sorry :…)

          • Even though that's the viewpoint I'm defending, it isn't exactly the viewpoint I want to see advance. What I really want to see is governments that support reasonable sentencing but also energetically seek out the 'imaginative' solutions. One of the most amazing stories I ever read was in Readers Digest about a hardened kid about 16 years old who was put on a farm as restorative justice. I wish I could remember and describe how the night one of the mares had a foal (he or she) wept when the baby broke out to breathe its first breath. That kid was totally changed. I don't think vengeance is always wrong but that doesn't mean I don't think imaginative solutions aren't right. I just wish our political parties didn't feel the need to pick a side.

          • As long as vengeance is only one aspect of sentencing then I have no difficulty it. My concern is that "Tough On Crime" initiatives seem to focus solely on increasing the degree of vengeance and ignore the restorative aspects that you mention. I do agree that those two concepts are not completely exclusive.

            Increasing the amount of punishment (jail time) handed out by the justice system will cost money. More importatnly, we should try to understand the effects that increasing jail time will have on long term outcomes.

            OTOH, folks who focus on solely restorative actions and compassion and so on need to accept that there are likely a few citizens who will never reform and/or are just too dangerous, and we need to be prepared to keep those people segregated for life.

          • "The problem is it completely precludes any honest engagement with the preferences and values of the other side."

            Perhaps. But I make no apologies for calling out irrational views where I see them. Particularly when they underpin the logic behind removing the rights of people and putting them in jail. It's reprehensible that we should so quickly incarcerate folks, just to make some others *feel* safer. And it's a minimally baffling position when the evidence clearly shows that jailing more lawbreakers, for longer terms, does little to make us safer.

            I'm not saying certain sociopaths and psychopaths shouldn't be removed from society. But we need to question to logic of jails as the ultimate and prefered means of making our lives more secure. And I agree with you that the simplistic solutions put forward by either liberals blaming society, or conservatives wanting to lock up any and all lawbreakers, aren't very helpful.

          • as usual sean we agree more than we disagree. to be clear i am not advocating shaming in a high school sense. and we certainly agree on making it societal in nature.

            for example i think in today's society, given the largely functional nature of social international and the decreased attachment to community, as well as the nature of most media coverage, that like you suggest shame can be easily accomplished while potentially doing some good. i think even things like picking garbage are valuable in this regard, although there are probably more productive matters we could accomplish through such a vehicle.

          • also, 'shame' implies a connection to the community, a betrayal of trust, and (one hopes) an opportunity to make things right. Whereas the complete removal of lawbreakers from our midst generally provides little opportunity for engagement with the very communities that have been disrupted.

            And I agree that the idea of 'picking up garbage,' or whatever, is a sometimes overlooked idea. Not that every criminal will be capable or willing to do so, but I'd like to see greater incorporative avenues for people to make things right, to contribute, and to offer reparations that are tangible and beneficial to their communities (which jail might do some times, but clearly not always.)

            (Usual disclaimers about killers, rapists and pedophiles apply…)

          • Jack:
            While it is popular (politically correct) for governments and various (social) groups to claim that crime is on the decline, it's one of societies major 'cover ups'. One only has to spend a year of so in a public school system to see that youth crime at least, is much greater than ever (much of it fostered by adults in our society). Many young criminals when convicted, are actually sentenced to return to the school system!!! It takes little imagination to see the ramifications of these careless actions, on the student body.
            The 'real' reason for the claims of reduced crime is that most crimes are not reported, especially if the perpetrator is part of one of our sacred groups. With all the rights given to the criminals and little actually provided to the victims, many crimes not only are not reported but 'can't' be reported.
            As a veteran of the public school system (now retired), the notion of a low crime rate is a major farce perpetuated by politically correct governments on a naive populace.

  2. This is nothing but a desperate attempt to change the channel with a hot button item.

  3. I like the construction of the poll: two polemicals and a soft Tory landing.

  4. The money would have been better spent educating the public that crime has been falling since we revamped the criminal justice system back in the 70's. Vengence is a filthy emotion, and we should not encourage it. Eventually all but the worst of criminals will be back on the street. It is better for society if rehabilitation is the goal.

    • 1962 221 violent crimes/100,000 pop
      2008 932 violent crimes/100,000 pop

      1962 1891 property crimes/100,000 pop
      2008 3079 property crimes/100,000 pop

      1962 overall crime rate 2,771/100,000 pop
      2008 overall crime rate 6,589/100,000 pop ( a whopping 137% increase)
      tell me again how crime rates are down
      Oh, and according to Stats Can GSS (Genereal Social Survey) up to 92% of sexual assaults were never reported, nor were 46% of break-ins, 61% of physical assaults, or 54% of robberies.

      Oh, and the best quote from the hug a thug '70s and Trudeau's govt?….."The present situation results from the fact that (the) protection of society has received more emphasis than the rehabilitation of inmates. Consequently, we have decided from now on to stress the rehabilitation of offenders, rather than the protection of society." Jean-Paul Goyer, Soliciter General.

      You can't force rehab, any more than you can force the Americans to buy more of our lumber.

      • According to the 1996 Juristat publication, almost all crime rates increased between 1962 and 1992; since 1992 the rates have been declining. As you show, rates are still above the 1962 level.

        I think it's interesting to look at what else changed during that time … yes, I know that's nothing more than correlation, but still worth looking at IMO. The most obvious correlation is with the population between the ages of 18 and 40.

  5. This reminds me of the story of the ever shortening sentencing for theft for a few people in BC. Apparently after about 30 convictions you get progressively lighter sentences from the justice system. I guess they figure jail time just wasn't helping out the perps so there was no point in it from the judges point of view.

    America: 3 strikes and you're out
    Canada: 30 strikes and you're in

    Surely there comes a time when the point of jail is to promote the welfare of someone other than the criminal. In any case, it's exhilaratingly weird to read a discussion which contains far more vindictiveness towards those who support jail in a punitive sense than towards those who've commited crimes.

      • Wasn't as easy to find and a little more ambiguous than I expected:

        —"In Vancouver the situation has reached ludicrous proportions," said Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, during a news conference on Wednesday. "I repeat, ludicrous proportions. The average jail sentences are going down, not up."

        Vancouver police found that 87 per cent of all chronic offenders were sentenced to less than six months in jail and only 3 per cent were given sentences longer than one year.

        As well, the report found sentences for chronic offenders rarely exceed a few months, and in some cases, the duration of the sentence decreases after the 30th charge.—-

        http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/

        • I think the particular case cited in that story might make some question the Conservative assumptions that more people in jail, for longer terms, will fix things.

          Like it or not, we have to deal with the imperfect individuals in our midst. Wishing them away will not work.

  6. Wasn't as easy to find and a little more ambiguous than I expected:

    —"In Vancouver the situation has reached ludicrous proportions," said Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, during a news conference on Wednesday. "I repeat, ludicrous proportions. The average jail sentences are going down, not up."

    Vancouver police found that 87 per cent of all chronic offenders were sentenced to less than six months in jail and only 3 per cent were given sentences longer than one year.

    As well, the report found sentences for chronic offenders rarely exceed a few months, and in some cases, the duration of the sentence decreases after the 30th charge.—-

    http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/

  7. Can someone please explain to me how "Crackdowns accomplish nothing except growing the prison population". (Answer #2 to the poll)

    Isn't growing the prison population accomplishing the removal of criminals from general society? Consequently, making society safer?

    While you're at it Liberals, please explain the logic behind banning guns? Do you honestly think that some gang member who wants to rob a bank or do a drive-by is going to stop to register his gun, or apply for a permit or not use a banned gun? No. He isn't. If banning things were such a successful strategy, why don't we just ban crime altogether? Come to think of it, maybe we can ban cancer. and car accidents.

    • Yes, no one will emerge from Crime U, ever.

      • Hopefully

    • Your illogic is pain-inducing.

  8. … the concept of banning guns, something that the human race is not sufficiently evolved to even begin to grasp, is about a vision for the future. trying to explain the concept to anyone who believes in the neccessity for guns is a bit like arguing with a drunk, or trying to blow out a lightbulb. if you believe, as many americans do, that the solution to gun violence is "more guns", how can anyone argue with ill logic?

    • Perhaps we can have this debate when you get back from the future. Without the benefits of a time-travel or your magical unicorn, I am forced to live in the present – where the concept of banning guns is a failed policy, concieved in idiocy and is based on a socialogy professor's utopian dream that it takes a village to raise a child. And if the child grows up, buys an AK-47 and invades my home, I'm supposed to call the police and wait for 45 minutes for them to show up to save me and/or process the crime scene. And if the police arrest the child, he gets 2 years house arrest based on the clever defense that the village didn't do its job raising the child.

      p.s – if everyone sufficiently evolved is as self-righteous and pompous as you mr. henman, I think I'll pass on that unicorn ride.

  9. …i find it both amusing and instructive that those who seek to go beyond punishment and vengeance in order to investigate and comprehend the roots and causes of crime are described as the "hug-a-thug crowd".

    • I'll go beyond punishment and vengeance. I support increased penalties for crime because while they are behind bars they will not be committing more crimes. Punishment and vengeance are horrible things. Prevention of crime is useful. Don't tell me that crime is down in the long term. Don't pick recent stats but pick stats from 50 years ago.

  10. I think with such issues we should keep our focus on the subject rather than politics behind it. Being tough on crime should be a principle, not a liberal vs conservative domain. Someone commits a crime, should be punished to the fullest extent. Does than mean education and prevention should be forgotten? Of course not. But these are 2 complementary approaches, not contradictory, as political parties and their supporters always make it out to be. You park illegally, you're fined, that mean doesn't mean we should not send people to driving schools.

    • Unfortunatey modern spoiled parents were brought up without consequences. Their children are just considerably worse.

  11. I vote yes for this law. The ones that vote against it probabley are ex cons . The maintenance of the prisoners should be assisted by their family and close (friends ) . We should bring back the Capital Punishment again . I really hate to see my tax dollars supporting Convicted killers for 20 to 30 years. Not fair to the common tax payer .

  12. The government needs to concentrate on prevention and raising the living standard, and making the schools a better place for youth to feel accepted by society. Clean up the drug scene and crime will plummet. Longer sentences and early parole put prison guards at risk–why behave in jail if there is no early release for good behavior

    • I want them in jail where they can do no more harm.

  13. I think you've mistaken this for the CBC comments section.

  14. Crime is a huge problem in this country. Thank goodness the Conservatives are trying to do something about it. Last election, the CBC went to Stony Mountain Penitentary in Manitoba and interviewed inmates. Not one inmate supported the Conservatives. They all favoured the Liberals or NDP. What does that say?

    Criminals and left-leaning citizens like little punishment, while the tax-paying citizen has to continually pay deductibles for broken windows, spray paint etc.

    The Youth Justice Act needs to be revamped. Teens know nothing happens to them , even after being caught many times.

    I may have a different opinion if I was a rich urban elitist living in the best part of a city, and never had to worry about crime.

  15. Brian: It is simple. We have a bunch of bleeding hearts running our joke of a justice system. Prison in Canada is not punishment for most criminals but a step up from their normal life. Better than a lot of honest working taxpayers have it too. Also it keeps all the social workers employed. Same goes for banning any guns. The bleeding hearts think that because it is against the law and they would never break the law no one else will either. Like all the other laws that no one ever breaks. Don't you know that mass murders can be rehabilitated just by admitting they were wrong and had a crappy childhood.LOL.

  16. Brian: It is simple. We have a bunch of bleeding hearts running our joke of a justice system. Prison in Canada is not punishment for most criminals but a step up from their normal life. Better than a lot of honest working taxpayers have it too. Also it keeps all the social workers employed. Same goes for banning any guns. The bleeding hearts think that because it is against the law and they would never break the law no one else will either. Like all the other laws that no one ever breaks. Don't you know that mass murders can be rehabilitated just by admitting they were wrong and had a crappy childhood.LOL.

  17. 1. More severe sentences are not effective, criminals do NOT expect to be arrested, or they are so desperate they take a chance
    2. Prison must be made a lot tougher to make it a stronger deterent.take it back to the days of the work-house.

  18. Agree with Mark–Crime is rampent!!! NO one is held accoun table 4 their actions anymore–this must stop. Punishment is the answer– if that doesn't help–keep them locked up 4 good. this -so called–LIFE–sentence –is a joke– only gives the criminal 25 years– so why call it life!!!! some people are better off–kept –locked up–at least they can't be offending again!!! The way the sentences are written up now– aren't effective– have 2 be enforced!!! Then there is the time spent in prison– it's too easy– life is good–must find a way of making the offenders pay back their dues 2 society–not just sit around– read–w atch T V–smoke–whatever–have visitors bring them more –2 smoke. did anyone ever hear of the work ethic!!! Think even gaurds wolud be happier 2 have 2 police a work crew than see these–no goods– just sitting behind bars!! so bring in bills– galore– 2 change the system– it's time!!! Judges should be scrutinized-also– much harsher sentences needed!!

  19. If you want crime reduction, then allow concealed carry. It works.

    CD

  20. Some of the pro comments make me laugh! Crime has being going down for the past 30 years as most statistics show. Whether this is a product of birth control, abortion, or education I don't know. It seems that the only thing that is going up is the reporting of crime what with 24 hour cable news, on line news, etc. Canada has a low prison population relative to population in the country and the repeat rate is lower than most. why all the panic?

  21. The crime rate has been going down because more people don't report crimes, knowing that nothing will be done. Rehab the rehabilitatable, don't build more prisons, reinstate the death penalty… it may not work as a deterrent, but it will prevent the most heinous criminals from ever getting back on the street, and save taxpayers millions of dollars in feeding and housing the worst of the prison population.

  22. Seeing as how the majority of prison populations vote Liberal it is a little surprising that the Liberals don't support legislation to increase the number or people being incarcerated.

    Well, at least they are looking out for their supporters by taking the side of the perpetrators over the victims of crime.

  23. The Govenment should be worried about white collered crime, They hate competition!!!

  24. The present Tory government is responding to the voice of the victims who do not feel that they have been heard.
    The government will get votes but neither the victim or the offender or the community will get satisfaction.
    Prisons should not be seen as the ultimate form of justice. Victims deserve much better than that.

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