Evidence matters - Macleans.ca

Evidence matters

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In his YouTube interview last night, the Prime Minister cited “evidence” in explaining his government’s crime policy. Dan Gardner congratulates Mr. Harper, then mocks.

Harper is right that certainty, not severity, deters crime. But that “certainty” is not the “certainty” of getting prison time when you stand in front of a judge to hear your sentence. It’s the certainty of getting caught. Sentencing? Is Harper serious? At the time someone is contemplating a crime, sentencing is a vague notion far away in a distant future that the would-be criminal seldom considers because — please note — would-be criminals tend to be impulsive people who do not consider the future consequences of their actions… even if they know what the sentence for a crime is, which they probably don’t because would-be criminals also tend to be badly educated and poorly informed.

Oddly enough, Mr. Harper’s Justice Department has so far been unable to provide any evidence that suggests mandatory minimums deter crime (or, for that matter, that the sentences it is legislating differ from the sentences that are already being enforced).