It’s Criminal What They Say About Crime

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Last week, I read about more Conservative plans to tighten up on crime.  Again.  This time, it’s white collar crime.

What is it with these guys?  Why are they so obsessed with crime?

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m OK with locking up someone who breaks the law repeatedly or even once if it’s a harsh crime, but there are more important political issues having an impact on our economy such as … the economy or the Flu virus or a thousand other concerns.

Why is it that crime always seems to trump other more important problems?

I also resent the idea that being opposed to a Conservative crime bill makes anyone ‘soft on crime’.

For the record:  it doesn’t.  And it shouldn’t.

It just means you have better ideas about the causes of crime and how to handle issues related to crime, including poverty, class and wage issues and general social concerns.  Incarceration is NOT the only solution and the creation of a mega-complex of holding cells is ultimately a poor use of public funds.  This has been proven time and time again in the US, the world’s largest prison state.

What bothers me most about crime issues is that the numbers are never used correctly.

All we ever hear is that crime is out of control.

But let’s look at some of these assertions.

Here are some facts about crime:

  • Crime rates are lower than they were 20 years ago.
  • Violent crimes have been dropping and were lower in 2007 than at any time in two decades.  The same goes for property crimes:  the recent rate is nearly 40% below that reported in 1991.
  • Violent crimes are an extremely small percent of all crimes.  The most common criminal charge (24%) is for breach of court order and probation conditions, followed by impaired driving (8.9%), common assault (7.9%), and theft (7.5%).  Charges for drug trafficking represented about 2.5% of the  total last year, sex offences just over 1% and homicide barely 0.04% of the total.
  • More than 2 out of 3 crimes are committed by white Caucasians (67.5%), 60% of whom are either Catholic or Protestant.  African-Canadians represent about 6% and Muslims about 3%.  Unfortunately, these two groups tend to get singled out as the greatest perpetrators of crime in Canada.
  • Critics claim that most crimes occur in urban areas, but the stats show that the West and North represent our ‘hot spots’ on a per-capita basis.  This is because there is no social infrastructure to support people.
  • Threatening people with longer, more harsh sentences doesn’t work.  The US has used this approach for decades and all they have is a massive tax bill that pays for private management of criminal incarceration.

Given that the average annual cost of keeping someone in jail is about $93,000, throwing more people behind bars will simply add to our tax bills as well.

Instead of ‘getting tough on crime’, Canadian politicians should be looking for ways to ‘get tough on crime causes’:  unemployment, social and class issues, prohibition on ‘soft’ drugs like marijuana, education, lack of opportunity, guns, low wages and child support.

Data Source:  London Free Press (with apologies, I couldn’t find the original article that outlined the original data and information.  If someone has a link, please post it in the comments and I’ll update the article).

2 comments on “It’s Criminal What They Say About Crime

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