Thursday, 21 July 2011

Stupid on Crime, Part Umpty-Two

Here's the thing about crime stats. You can squeal and lie and dismiss all you want. One stat does NOT lie. The homicide rate.
Canada’s crime rate fell again last year and is now at its lowest level in almost 40 years.

Crimes reported to police dropped 5 per cent in 2010. The decline spanned a wide range of offences, including the homicide rate, which fell by 10 per cent to a level not seen since 1966.

“Homicide is one of the few types of violent crime that almost invariably comes to the attention of police and, as such, is generally recognized as a country’s barometer of violence,” Statistics Canada said in a report released Thursday.

In addition, an index measuring the severity of crimes fell 6 per cent from 2009, reaching its lowest point since it was introduced in 1998.

The national crime rate, which has been falling steadily for the past 20 years, is now at its lowest level since 1973, Statscan said.

Because, unlike sexual assault or theft under/over or other crimes, which may be differently defined or reported, a homicide pretty well entails a dead person and dead people are hard to ignore or redefine.

There is much more uniform reporting of murder stats across jurisdictions, which is why they're preferred for international comparisons.

Here's the StatsCan report. Just about every sort of crime -- including youth crime -- is down markedly.

So what did the Stooopid on Crime Cons have to say? Here's Justice spokesthingy:
"We don't use these statistics as an excuse not to get tough on criminals," said spokeswoman Pamela Stephens.


But this report is throwing a spaniard into ConCrime plans:
"From the government's perspective, crime going down is probably an embarrassment," said Anthony Doob, a criminologist at the University of Toronto. "For the rest of us, it's probably a nice thing to have less crime in our community."

Doob said crime rates and punishment policy are not linked.

"The one thing we know with any kind of certainty is that (a falling crime rate) doesn't have much to do with policies related to punishment," said Doob. "Sending more people to prison may reduce the likelihood that they're committing offences while they're in prison but, if anything, it increases the likelihood that they'll commit offences after they've been released."

Why can' we have nice, productive, progressive evidence-based policies? Why, when we know the facts, know what works and what doesn't, do we ignore all that and behave stupidly? Why do we let stupid people run things?

Of all the lying, fear-mongering, venality, and just plain meanness on the civic stage at the moment, what most distresses me is the WILLFUL IGNORANCE.

We need to make courage politically desirable. Not only tell the truth, but act on it.


Anonymous said...

We obviously need to be 'tough on criminals' to stop this massive unreported crime wave. I'm certain that there are dozens of instances of grand theft unicorn that don't make it to police attention.

On top of being 'tough on criminals', we can start a new government campaign: Canada's Criminal Action Plan. Placing stylish criminal-repelling rocks (with a blue C painted on) in key locations will definitely help cut the amount of unreported crime. As with all other Action Plans, evidence of appropriate signage will be required before receiving any associated funding.

fern hill said...

Grand theft unicorn. Good one.

ck said...

Oops! I just ripped off one of those mattress tags. Somebody gonna report me? I would just hate to think of that unreported crime spree happening out there.

Purple library guy said...

The "tough on crime" thing is horrible and doesn't accomplish the things they claim to be trying to accomplish. But that doesn't mean it's stupid, it just means they're lying (as usual).
Read a book a little while back called "Cops, crime and capitalism : the law and order agenda in Canada" which lays out a case that the whole "tough on crime" deal is about social control, keeping the underclass down, and making sure the wage workers know that anything is better than losing their jobs and disappearing into that underclass. It's a tool that goes parallel with killing social safety nets and keeping unemployment fairly high. It has nothing really to do with crime.
Of course I expect the rank and file are into "tough on crime" because it goes with the whole right wing "Strict Father" paradigm or whatever. Again, the point isn't what reduces crime. The point is to reinforce the social role of authority as, well, authoritarian, so they can look up to it all servile-like.

Orwell's Bastard said...

The answer is obvious: destroy StatsCan. Oh, wait ...

Anonymous said...

"...because it goes with the whole right wing "Strict Father" paradigm or whatever."

You mean Right Wing Authoritarianism? Here's a book(pdf) on the subject by a professor at the University of Manitoba. It discusses the situation in the US, but I think the situation in Canada isn't all that different even though it doesn't share the same immediate outward structure and labels (f.ex Tea Party).

Purple library guy said...

There's a connection there I'm sure. But what I meant was, there's a commentator in the US wrote a book tracing much of the, cultural at least, right/left divide in the US to different archetypal conceptions of the nature of the family. The right conceives of families as being supposed to be run by a "strict father" (and yes, specifically father). Cultural "liberals" conceive of families as involving "nurturing parents". These different paradigms have different implications for how they envision the nature of all social structures, governance and authority. He traces right wing authoritarianism from this discipline-oriented approach to family and the discipline-requiring conception of people that it incorporates. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the guy.

Post a Comment