Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Canada’s youth crime plans bewilder international observers - The Globe and Mail

This story is worth reading:

Canada’s youth crime plans bewilder international observers - The Globe and Mail

I suspect that there will always be some debate about how to address youth crime. What is interesting, however, is the info graphics. They provide a comparative take on Canadian youth incarceration rates. Let's acknowledge that the US rate is pretty difficult to determine precisely (for an important reason given in the info graphic) and so we can discount the rate provide for the US. Leaving the US out, however, we find Canada's rate is pretty darned high. Second only to Mexico. I wonder how many people knew that?

The real issue with youth crime is twofold. First, the real need to address it becomes confused with ideology, with hard line takes on crime in general. Here, those who tow the hard line seem more concerned about punishing criminals then lowering the crime rate ("you did the crime, you do the time"). My own concern, frankly, is the opposite. I'd rather see a lower crime rate so that there are fewer victims.

Second, I suspect that most people are not well informed about youth crime. For example, I suspect most people don't hunt down comparative incarceration statistics. I suspect most people don't look at the long term trajectory of the crime rate. I might be wrong. The fact that I don't normally check such things out doesn't mean that others don't. If I'm wrong, let me know. My point, however, is that if we are better informed and more clear in our objectives, we might make better public policy decisions.

Finally, I might add, it does not surprise me that our current government is "behind the curve" in terms of thinking about youth crime and crime prevention. Many of their ideas are old US Republican ideas that didn't work in the US. OK, that might have been a bit catty.
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