Getting tough with crime seems to be an important part of the current federal government’s agenda

by Les Morley|March 15, 2010| Correctional Law, Deportation,

Getting tough with crime seems to be an important part of the current federal government’s agenda. Recent government initiatives include, amongst others, increasing the number of offences with minimum punishments. Is this get-tough approach really helpful in reducing crime?

According to the authors of Criminological Highlights, a publication of the University of Toronto’s Centre of Criminology, the evidence gleaned from studies of the application of minimum penalties over the last 40 years is clear: mandatory minimum penalties “do not affect crime rates”, and actually “interfere with accountability and the efficient operation of the criminal justice system”.

Developments in the law of deportation since the early 1990s reveal a similar movement away from the exercise of discretion by independent decision-makers and towards a quicker but much more harsh one-size-fits all approach. As a consequence, people who have grown up in Canada and who, in some cases, may have lived here for many decades, are being deported from Canada without a hearing, splitting up families and returning the deportees to countries with which they no longer have any connection, and which can ill afford to receive them.

While it is true that some immigrants to Canada have committed crimes , the evidence, according to Criminological Highlights, is that “violent crime rates decrease when immigrants move into a city”, at least “in part because immigrants are more likely to bolster intact (two-parent) family structures”.

Given that mandatory minimum penalties do not reduce crime, and that immigration results in reduced crime rates, is the current government’s policy respecting crime in Canada a responsible one?

These and other astounding insights are available for review in the most recent issue of Criminological Highlights, and are well worth a read.

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