Within the past few years, Provincial and federal incarceration rates have slowly but steadily been increasing, with actual number of adults being admitted to territorial, provincial or federal programs at 211,970 in 2006, and steadily climbing to 262,067 in 20101, with the rising crime rate comes different methods to attempt to combat crime, some focus on being more preventative, such as community outreach programs that focus on at risk youth or children who live in priority neighborhoods, while others are primarily used once a crime has occurred, such as police intervention leading to a civil suit or a criminal charge; this, is the concept of Crime Deterrence, sometimes Deterrence can be viewed as flawed for the fact it assumes that most humans think things out before they commit a crime [Mens Rea] Before I proceed, I think it best to delve further into to the basics of criminal Deterrence, and what it is. Deterrence is based on the concept that if the consequence of committing a crime outweighs the benefits of the crime, then the perpetrator will be deterred from committing said crime.
This is all in the idea that as humans we all know the difference between right and wrong and that with criminal behavior, a penalty is bound to follow, when an individual acts, they’re doing so out of free will and they know what they’re doing, be it right or wrong. Ironically the deterrence model is flawed to an extent with it’s thinking; criminals are rational, a murderer may be a murderer for the same reasons I choose to work as a salesman for the time being: because the profession makes him better off than anything else available to them. The model fails to realise that murderers, or anyone who commits crime for that matter, are constantly outweighing the benefits and repercussions of any actions they may commit, not thinking of what may be a rational and sound decision to others.
If it were the case that all robbers, murderers and conmen were rational then we wouldn’t have to make it impossible so as to commit their respective crime, but only make it unprofitable, for example if every woman in a priority neighborhood were to carry pepper spray after dark, so that two out of five robbery attempts puts a robber in the hospital or leaves them at risk to being caught, then the number of robbers within the area will decrease, not because of the being pepper sprayed but because they simply found a less dangerous or more profitable way to make a living. 1. Naturally, with deterrence being a less than perfect model, people commit crime, or due to other circumstances are considered criminals, and once caught and convicted will have to enter the criminal justice system, where they will be provided with a host of programs to help them become law abiding and providing members of society.
In order to successfully intervene and rehabilitate an offender, three specific criteria must be assessed and focused upon: Risk – the higher risk the inmate, the more comprehensive courses offered Needs – behaviors that reduce crimes are to be targeted, focus on controlling impulses for crime Responsivity – Being aware of an offender’s style, and acting accordingly [let the punishment fit the criminal] These principles can potentially make or break an offender’s rehabilitation2, pay attention and work according to them and odds are it’ll be successful, neglect them and opt for an aggressive approach, and the rate of recidivism will most likely skyrocket.
In essence, Deterrence and Rehabilitation essentially try to do the same thing, just at different points in time, deterrence seeks to prevent the crime from happening, while rehabilitation attempts to help the offender become a member of society who doesn’t have to resort to crime anymore. 2. In my personal opinion if Canada were to have a 3 strike system we’d be more likely to have a lower rate of repeat offenders, and deterrence would get much more of a point across to offenders, because they would realize that once they reach the 3rd strike the repercussions become much more harsh, be in through increased sentencing or more federal jail time as opposed to provincial time. 3.
Based on my research on the effectiveness of deterrence of crime in Canada, I find that the Tories are somewhat misguided in their attempts to deter crime, and focus on the wrong sectors of crime, perhaps less military expenditures and more tough gun control, or harsher penalties for those caught with handguns and automatic weapons? I personally agree with the statement that “… conservatives are not tough on crime, but just stupid on crime. 3” 4. I also found some complications with deterrence in Canada, such as the fact that crimes committed in the heat of the moment, in passion, or under the influence cannot be deterred because the offender is generally in a state of mind that can make them do things that the average person wouldn’t do, also in certain priority neighborhood areas regardless of deterrence, some people are predispositioned towards crime
5. It is criticized that Canada might be somewhat lenient when it comes towards arsher penalties for criminals, be it adult or young offenders, which ironically is not the truth, what with Canada having the highest rate of Youth incarceration within the western world, meaning that We’ve got a higher youth prisoner population that the US does with prisoners in general, which shows that Canada is very serious on crime, especially youth crime. 6. With regards to deterrence within native communities, I believe that deterrence has no place in aboriginal communities, especially when it comes to interpreting the YCJA because of the circumstances behind said YCJA, such as canada’s gross overuse of incarceration of youth4, and because of disproportionate misrepresentation of aboriginal youth within the legal system5.
Deterrence must be done on a broad spectrum taking care to cater to specific needs of the native peoples. 7. One would figure that someone who abuses children sexually would feel remorseful and wish to amend for their actions, however that’s rarely the case in the eyes of a sexual predator, who figures that they “love children” and wouldn’t hurt them. Despite the fact that there are sexual predator registries, they are not public here in Canada, unlike the US, where due to the registry backfiring they see more and more repeat offenders. A Predator who is registered in the registry is more likely not to reoffend than someone who the public has been informed about, it seems that notifying the public led to increased sexual offences with youths.