A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

29 February 2008

Wow ... Just Wow. Or Rather, Unjust Wow.

A new report says that the US has managed to incarcerate fully one percent of its adult population, or 2.3 million people. And there are some interesting findings.

From the article:
Although studies generally find that imprisoning more offenders reduces crime, the effect may be less influential than changes in the unemployment rate, wages, the ratio of police officers to residents and the proportion of young people in the population, report co-author Adam Gelb said.


For instance, Florida, which has almost doubled its prison population over the past 15 years, has experienced a smaller drop in crime than New York, which, after a brief increase, has reduced its number of inmates to below the 1993 level.

Go read the report.

Why should Canadians pay attention?
The Conservative government's crime bill narrowly passed in the Liberal-dominated Senate on Wednesday, avoiding an election showdown over the issue.


The crime bill, among other things, calls for:

Tougher mandatory prison terms for serious gun crimes.
Stiffer penalties for impaired driving.
Tougher bail laws.
Tougher rules for repeat offenders.
Increasing the age of sexual consent to 16 from 14 in certain cases.
I never thought we needed a new crime bill, particularly because I don't think it actually does anything that wasn't already covered by law. But I am very concerned about the apparent move toward things like mandatory minimum sentences, which are big contributors to burgeoning prison populations.

The gun crime provision is interesting. Especially since this government is known to favour deregulating firearms. I don't feel that a longer sentence will dissuade the run-into-the-mall-and-kill-a-bunch-of-people types, and I don't think it figures highly in the mental calculations of your average drug dealer/gas station robber/guy who just lost his mortgage in a poker game. So if the intent is to reduce crime, I don't feel this will have the effect they seek. But it'll be interesting to watch.

I would also like to know whether the government is going to follow through on its comittment to funding more police officers nationwide. Boots on the ground will definitely reduce crime--one of the few proven solutions. I saw some funding in the budget, so that's good.

Yes, I believe that if you can't do the time, you shouldn't do the time. But I believe justice must be tempered with reason and mercy. There are good reasons not to treat someone convicted of pot possesion the same way we treat someone convicted of manslaughter, which seems to me to be the direction we're moving in.


At 1:29 p.m., Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

Our drug laws are what keep our prison population so high. Really stupid. At least I don't see stiffer drug sentences on the list for your crime bill.

At 9:11 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

Well those are just the highlights. The current government has a prohibistionist streak. Still, they're very poll-sensitive, and I think they understand that most Canadians could care less about punishing addicts and pot smokers. Still, if they ever get a majority ...

The last bunch were flirting with the idea of pot decriminalization. But there's been a bit of a chill.

At 12:56 a.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Bonjour M Metro

This is schrecklich

Hier in Inglaterra, our Prison Population has topped 80,000 (and rising) in a total population of 60 million (or is that [?]70+ million, if you add all the "invisible" illegal immigrants)

... and this despite shorter sentences, early releases, sexy, exciting, ineffectual Alternatives to Custody (errr .... you Colonials would call this Community Service) etc etc

As Herr Hamlet muttered darkly - there is something rotten in the state of Denmark

but While I flatter myself that I agree with Mrs Slave on so many things (apart of course from religion, politics, the US Presidential Races etc), I wonder if it is the Drug Laws that increase the prison populations here and across the Pond .... doesn't drug abuse that leads so many unfortunates into Crime

AND is Cannabis really the cosy, harmless, trendy "recreational" drug that its apologists would suggest .....

Yr obedt servt etc

G Eagle

At 11:21 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

@G Eagle:
So your prison population is about 0.13 percent. Sounds reasonable. Of course, you also don't have private prisons that need to be overfilled to allow continuous profit.

As to the wee green leaf, well until I spot a headline reading "Pot-fueled riot trashes town centre," I'll tend to continue believeing that pot is, in the words of the Hitchiker's Guide: "Mostly Harmless".

I believe there are an unfortunate few who can become addicted to pot, just as there are those who become addicted to gambling and liquor. However, it is but an accident of history that marijuana is a banned substance, while alcohol may be enjoyed by almost anyone.

Imagine if the overflowing-with-vomiting-drunks-at-7 pubs and bars of London were instead replaced by cannabis caf├ęs ...

Of course they'd have to redesign the infrastructure of the entire city to accomodate all the Haagen-Dasz and Doritos outlets.


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