Dunnette, M. and Winterdyk, J. (2012) Tough on Crime: A Step Backwards in Contemporary Social Justice for Canada

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Categories: Paper, Youth Voice Journal


In this paper, the “tough on crime” ideology is analysed by evaluating statistical evidence and research on the effects of custodial sentences, and the associated costs. The aim is to provide an informative review of empirical evidence, and explore an alternative to the new Canadian Omnibus Crime Bill. Included in this paper is a discussion concerning the research data on offenders, and whether or not longer custodial sentences support the examined research. The findings have generally shown that both crime rates and crime severity have been on the decline
in Canada. Furthermore, custodial sentences tend to escalate the recidivism on offenders, and rehabilitative treatment has shown to lower recidivism. In terms of young offenders, it is suggested that custodial sentences may cause more harm to the youth, and an increased risk of reoffending. Additionally, the “tough on crime”
philosophy has been presented to be problematic, as presented by a case study in the state of Texas, which, in recent years, has found more success in utilising funds in both diversion and treatment programmes instead of longer sentences and additional prisons.

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