calgary defence blog
A Defence lawyer's perspective on issues in criminal law
Harper, Calgary Police, and Violent Crimes in Calgary: Part 2
September 25, 2015
Continued from Part 1.
Criminal justice research has been going on for over a century, and the results couldn't be clearer: harsh punishments don't prevent crime. Many countries in Europe have sentences that are far shorter than ours, and jails that are far cushier, and yet they have incredibly low instances of violent crimes and crime altogether. Our neighbor to the south still employs capital punishment in many states and is generally far "tougher" on crime than Canada, and yet they still have way more of it than we do.
After-the-fact answers score political points, but they don't actually work to protect the everyday citizens of Calgary or of Canada from violent crimes, or from the conditions that produce violent criminals. There's actually a stronger relationship between harsh sentences and higher crime rates than vice versa.
On the other hand, countries with strong social safety nets, widespread and well-funded community outreach programs, and other means of creating empowered individuals within a free and democratic society have low rates of crime, while countries lacking these things tend to have higher crime rates. So whether or not Harper feels that the "thugs" in Calgary and Canada need to be punished in order to satisfy some objective morality, he can't claim to be an advocate for victims of crime when he's pushing for policies that will, objectively, create more victims.
I'm not saying that violent criminals shouldn't be apprehended or imprisoned, and I agree that this year's spike in Calgary's violent crime rate is cause for concern, but if we want that concern to produce useful results that actually make our city and our action safer we need to stop and think. The recent spate of gun violence in Calgary has been linked all but exclusively to the drug trade, and is occurring a short time after the major gangs who controlled that drug trade in Calgary were dismantled.
There's demand for drugs, despite the fact that they're illegal. Dismantling Calgary's street gangs created a vacuum on the supply side, and increased violence as new groups try to take over the turf is the natural and predictable result. Strengthening communities and individuals to reduce demand for drugs and steer Calgary youths away from criminal activity, while at the same time reexamining our drug criminalization policies to make the supply less dangerous and less lucrative to would-be criminals, would do more far more to reduce violent crimes than simply locking up everyone that can be labeled a criminal.
I stand up for victims of crime, and I also stand up for those accused of crimes. Both are being let down by our current system, and improving things for accused criminals does not have to come at the expense of improving things for alleged victims—in fact, the two advances can and must go hand in hand if either one is to be effective.
Contact a Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyer Who Cares
If you or a family member has been accused of a violent crime in Calgary, or of any crime throughout the Greater Calgary Area, please contact me today for the dedicated, compassionate, and personal legal help you're entitled to.
This entry was posted on September 25, 2015
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