Objectionable reality

by Aaron Wherry

Having said the same thing this time last year, the Justice Minister restates his thesis on crime.

“We don’t govern on the latest statistics,” the minister told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview. ”What level it’s at right now, it’s unacceptable, and we are committed to disrupting … criminal activity.”

It was a year and a half ago, having heard the Prime Minister say something similar, that Dan Gardner was inspired to pen the phrase “an epistemological claim of staggering primitiveness.”




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Objectionable reality

  1. “We don't govern on the latest statistics,” The Batman told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview. ”What level it's at right now, it's unacceptable, and we are committed to disrupting … criminal activity.”

  2. The CPC aspires to detain 1% of the population like they do in the States.

    • Long prison sentences have been proven to be ineffective, only increasing crime rates. The deterrence factor has been proven wrong over and over again. The more liberal approach has proven to decrease crime rates. If it ain't broke…!

      • The more liberal approach has proven to decrease crime rates.

        It has? I must have missed it. Who proved it?

        • It's a complicated issue, but harsh sentences and harsh prisons can end up costing society more than just tax dollars. Prisons often radicalize inmates making them more likely to commit crime in the future. Here's a colourful piece by journalist Dan Gardner. Check it out if you want!

          http://www.dangardner.ca/Archapr2802.html

      • Can you please provide a link to the studies which prove this wrong, over and over again? Surely if it's been proven over and over there must be many of them…

        Cause I guarantee you that for every study you dig up, I can dig one up that shows a correlation between increasing the likelihood of going to prison or increasing the sentence, and a reduction in crime rates.

          • Um…no. Producing google search results on "criminologist" is not a research study and does not constitute proof of anything except your ability to type.

            So I guess it's up to me. From Stephen Levitt.

            http://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/6191.html

            Over the last two decades the punitiveness of the juvenile justice system has declined" substantially relative to the adult courts. During that same time period juvenile violent crime" rates have grown almost twice as quickly as adult crime rates. This paper examines the degree to" which those two empirical observations are related, finding that changes in relative punishments" can account for 60 percent of the differential growth rates in juvenile and adult violent crime" between 1978 and 1993. Juvenile offenders appear to be at least as responsive to criminal" sanctions as adults. Moreover, sharp changes in criminal involvement with the transition from" the juvenile to the adult court suggest that deterrence, rather than simply incapacitation important role.

          • Um…no. Producing google search results on "criminologist" is not a research study and does not constitute proof of anything except your ability to type.

            So I guess it's up to me. From Stephen Levitt.

            http://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/6191.html

            Over the last two decades the punitiveness of the juvenile justice system has declined" substantially relative to the adult courts. During that same time period juvenile violent crime" rates have grown almost twice as quickly as adult crime rates. This paper examines the degree to" which those two empirical observations are related, finding that changes in relative punishments" can account for 60 percent of the differential growth rates in juvenile and adult violent crime" between 1978 and 1993. Juvenile offenders appear to be at least as responsive to criminal" sanctions as adults. Moreover, sharp changes in criminal involvement with the transition from" the juvenile to the adult court suggest that deterrence, rather than simply incapacitation important role.

          • Um…no. Producing google search results on "criminologist" is not a research study and does not constitute proof of anything except your ability to type.

            So I guess it's up to me. From Stephen Levitt.

            http://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/6191.html

            Over the last two decades the punitiveness of the juvenile justice system has declined" substantially relative to the adult courts. During that same time period juvenile violent crime" rates have grown almost twice as quickly as adult crime rates. This paper examines the degree to" which those two empirical observations are related, finding that changes in relative punishments" can account for 60 percent of the differential growth rates in juvenile and adult violent crime" between 1978 and 1993. Juvenile offenders appear to be at least as responsive to criminal" sanctions as adults. Moreover, sharp changes in criminal involvement with the transition from" the juvenile to the adult court suggest that deterrence, rather than simply incapacitation important role.

          • That's the Freakeconomist who said that, thanks to legalized abortion, there are less unwanted children being born to single mothers who live in hopeless squalor. Nice guy!

          • At least most of that must be true. An aborted fetus must, I think, by definition, be unwanted.

          • Exactly…but his more controversial statement was that preventing the "unwanted children being born to single mothers who live in hopeless squalor" from being born was the single largest factor that caused the massive crime rate drop in the States in the 90's, due to the fact that the fetuses that were being aborted had a much higher probability of growing up to be criminals had they not been aborted, since they tended to come from families that didn't want them and/or couldn't support or love them.

            Certainly an argument that backs the "liberal" philosophy of addressing the root causes of crime, right? So I'm puzzled why you would find this statement objectionable given your clearly overwhelming belief in the liberal crime fighting philosophy? Moral questions aside, I personally found his argument and supporting evidence very compelling.

          • I know what leads to crime: People.

            I saw on the news that people who had to evacuate their homes in B.C. because of the advancing forest fires, were recently able to return home, just to find that their homes had been looted. We would probably have to abort the whole species to avoid this sort of thing.

            Even when Opportunity's knock is sombre and tragic, people will still enthusiastically open the door, even if it requires busting the lock.

          • A point being that the author did not conclude tougher punishment or lesser punishment had anything to do with rising juvenile crime rates.

            Which means we're still waiting for your list John g.

          • Ted, this part wasn't in the abstract I posted but the author pointed out that in countries where juveniles are treated less harshly than adults, the crime rate decreases right at the point where age of majority is reached (i.e. when the threat of sentence is increased). When juveniles are treated more harshly than adults, the crime rate actually increases when the age of majority is reached (when the threat of sentence decreases).

            There are plenty more studies that could be posted stating the same thing, but I have no doubt that there are several studies which would find the opposite results, so there's no point in getting into a war over who can post the most studies. Studies, like polls, are often commissioned by people with agendas, on both sides of the issue.

            My point is only that blanket statements that the liberal approach is "proven" to reduce crime are bogus, as are conservative claims to the contrary. Each approach may or may not have its merits, but to say that either is the proven method that works is just rhetoric.

        • john g, do you really a study to state the obvious? Look at our crime rate compared to that of the US? How do you explain the fact that theirs is way higher than ours despite their use of capital punishment and significant incarceration rate?

          • No but if somebody says that something is "proven", then I'd like to see the empirical evidence to back up that assertion. A google search on the word "criminologist" doesn't count as evidence.

            And there is no evidence to suggest that differences between American and Canadian crime rates is caused by incarceration or sentencing. There are thousands of factors. Access to guns, etc. I agree capital punishment is not a factor and I don't advocate for it, though I wouldn't shed a tear if Bernardo or the creeps that murdered the girl in Woodstock were to meet with a fatal accident while behind bars.

      • "The more liberal approach has proven to decrease crime rates."

        Think again. Canadian crime rates peaked in early 90s, according to StatsCan, and have been going down gradually since but when you compare crime rates in 1962 to 2009 the 'liberal approach' does not look so good. Property crime and violent crimes per 100,000 people have more than doubled since '62, right around the time liberal approach was starting to be implemented. And total criminal code offences have risen from 2,000 per 100,000 people to around 8,000 per 100,000.

        I agree that deterrence is not that effective but putting people in jail is much more than that. It stops criminals from committing more crimes and it provides some justice to victims. Only criminologists think jail does not work because they seem to be more concerned with criminals self-esteem and how to turn them into suburban dads than they are with justice.

        • Actually, many criminologists think jail doesn't work because.. well.. it doesn't.
          Check out recidivism rates. More illuminating, check out the severity of the offence committed by the recidivists in comparison to their original offences.

          Prison doesn't stop crime, it only delays it, and makes it worse when the criminal comes out. So unless you're of the mind of a "first strike, you're out" type of rule, all harsher punishments do is create harsher criminals.

          Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather have my car stolen when I'm in the store rather than car-jacked while I'm in it.

          The other thing you need to look at in those stats is crime vs. urbanization. From 1962 to 2009 a lot more people moved off the farms in Canada to the city as well. Doesn't mean it's the cause, but it's just as likely as your postulate.

        • Actually, many criminologists think jail doesn't work because.. well.. it doesn't.
          Check out recidivism rates. More illuminating, check out the severity of the offence committed by the recidivists in comparison to their original offences.

          Prison doesn't stop crime, it only delays it, and makes it worse when the criminal comes out. So unless you're of the mind of a "first strike, you're out" type of rule, all harsher punishments do is create harsher criminals.

          Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather have my car stolen when I'm in the store rather than car-jacked while I'm in the car.

          The other thing you need to look at in those stats is crime vs. urbanization. From 1962 to 2009 a lot more people moved off the farms in Canada to the city as well. Doesn't mean it's the cause, but it's just as likely as your postulate.

          • "Prison doesn't stop crime, it only delays it…"

            So… life sentences will delay crime indefinitely. Yay, we solved it!

          • But if we're going to do that, why not just have a lifelong system of welfare for everybody and be done with it? Why do we insist that they have to commit a crime first?

          • Are you saying that we have established that it is only, or primarily, poverty that leads to criminality?

            It seems to me that the argument for welfare as crime prevention implies that the victims of crimes are really the culprits. It really says, "We should all feel ashamed of ourselves, not giving enough to that young man so he was forced to steal from us. Simply disgraceful." Then, once the welfare is flowing, when the next theft happens, how could anyone not say, "Ah, it's because we didn't give him enough."

            Also, I ask you, would this logic apply to other crimes, for example, to excuse a rape, "Well of course he raped her, she wouldn't put out"?

            Ultimately crime is (or should be) about a violation of property (I include one's own body in my definition of property). Crimes occur when one person think he or she has a right to the property of another person – or thinks that terms like "property" and "right" are meaningless.

            At present, it is the trend in Canada to ignore property and rights. People think they have an increasing right to the property of others. Maclean's magazine, as I understand it, was dragged before the Human Rights Commission because it wouldn't publish some other people's articles in its own magazine. The fact that court (or commission, or whatever) would hear this case tells me that Canada is still figuring out who has a right to whom's property.

            Perhaps before determining the what makes a criminal, we should first determine what is a crime.

          • No, I'm saying that it seems foolish to give permanent welfare to people because they have committed a crime — which is what your "life sentences for all" comment essentially boils down to.

          • Oh.

            So we are both for the death penalty then?

        • This is Canada. Property crime rates go up when the local hockey team wins a playoff series.

  3. If 1% of the population is by their criminal proclivities in need of detention, whyever would there be a problem with that?

  4. It doesn't matter what the solution is if the idiot government refuses to even entertain the evidence.

    How on Earth did we get saddled with these primitives?

    • The Liberal Party of Canada has provided unqualified support to that "primitive" agenda. Good on them I say, but that's your party Anon/Ti-G*y.

  5. "We don't govern by the lastest statistics"…. or any statistics. or any evidence.

    • You should never let facts get in the way of policy.

    • I think this is the more interesting point in the piece. we already all knew how the CPC treats issues related to crime.

      it is also completely consistent with Brodie's bragging back in May about considerations of evidence about impacts in making the GST decision.

      • And the latest polls and focus groups.

  6. Must be extremely frustrating for the Tory trolls who bite their tongues when they want to point to these stats and say 'See, our plan's working!'… No doubt that rumours just for the 10-percenters…

  7. The Tories are adept at learning about the biases and concerns of people based on psychology, demographics, etc. They have learned that two key constituencies of voters — women with children and the elderly — are particularly responsive to the FEAR of crime. Hence, they hammer away at crime policy because they know it moves votes in two demographics that can swing a riding and that this phenomenon is insensitive to facts about crime. Politicians from other parties have done this in the past, too. However, the Tories have refined it. This is why they say absurd things, like crime is on the rise when it's falling, etc. Shame on them for not leading us to reason. Shame on us for responding to fear mongering.

  8. The Conservatives are on the right track with their crime control agenda.

    And the Liberals are correct in supporting that same Conservative crime contral agenda unlike the NDP and the Bloc who hold to their ideological leftist feel good agenda on crime. The mantra of that agenda is that a criminal commits a crime, it's society's fault. Get with the program, like the Liberals have, when a criminal commits a crime it's the criminal's fault.

    • It is a tough on criminals agenda, not a tough on crime agenda.

      Other than making certain acts that were already illegal all the more illegal (like speed racing), where have they made any effort to reduce crime?

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