‘Getting tough’ on crime doesn’t prove effective

Colin Mayes has proclaimed that his government’s ‘cracking down on crime’ initiative since 2006 has worked because the crime rate is down

Colin Mayes has proclaimed that his government’s ‘cracking down on crime’ initiative since 2006 has worked because the crime rate is down in 2012.

Unfortunately for this argument, the Canadian crime rate has been dropping since 1992 and the rate of decrease is unchanged since 2006.  Sweden, which has not ‘cracked down on crime,’ has a much lower crime rate than does Canada.  The latter indicates that crime rates respond more favourably to rehabilitation programs than to harsh sentences.  Incarcerating Conservatives (prison populations tend to vote Conservative) does not seem to be the answer.

Two alternative explanations have been extensively debated: the availability of abortion on demand, which in all cases in Canada and the U.S. preceded the decline in crime by somewhat less than 20 years (removing potential prisoners from the population), and the removal of lead from gasoline, which implies a chemical cause to criminality.  The latter is credited with about twice the effect of the former.

The current push to ‘get tough on child predators’ is a measure to correct the embarrassing revelations from last year that had people growing six marijuana plants in their homes facing tougher sentences than did child predators.

Previously the Conservatives claimed that the crime rate decline was artificial because it was not showing unreported crime.

I asked myself, “How do they know?”  It has only been with the revelations of crime among Conservative senators and the Prime Minister’s office that I have fully understood just what they were talking about.

Richard Smiley