In a recent tongue-in-cheek Facebook post, I asked how long it would take before the Canadian government took credit for the annual drop in crime which was reported this week by Statistics Canada.
I didn’t believe any politician would have the effrontery to make such a claim, but Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says that that keeping the bad guys in longer lowers the crime rate.
- The government provides no evidence that their get-tough-on-crime policies are responsible for lower rates of crime. They can’t be criticized for making the “correlation does not mean causation” error because their statements are too vague to identify causes.
- The available evidence from the United States and Canada says that mandatory minimums have not delivered their anticipated returns in public safety.
- A review of the research for the government by the Department of Justice in 2002 shows that incarceration has little or no impact on recidivism.
- A submission by the Canadian Psychological Association to the Senate Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs earlier this year presented research showing that mandatory minimum sentences are expensive, do not reduce crime, and are unjust.
- Canada’s crime rate has been dropping since the early 1990s, irrespective of the government in power or their particular crime control policies.
 Fradella, H. F. (2000). Mandatory Minimum Sentences: Arizona’s Ineffective Tool for the Social Control of Driving Under the Influence. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 11(2), 113-135. doi: 10.1177/0887403400011002002
Joan, P. (2011). Beyond the Prison Bubble. Federal Probation, 75(1), 2.
Nsereko, D. D. N. (1999). Minimum sentences and their effect on judicial discretion. Crime Law and Social Change, 31(4), 363-384.
Schlesinger, T. (2011). The Failure of Race Neutral Policies: How Mandatory Terms and Sentencing Enhancements Contribute to Mass Racialized Incarceration. Crime & Delinquency, 57(1), 56-81. doi: 10.1177/0011128708323629
Welsh, B. C., & Farrington, D. P. (2012). Science, politics, and crime prevention: Toward a new crime policy. Journal of Criminal Justice, 40(2), 128-133. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2012.01.008
 Gabor, T., & Crutcher, N. (2002). Mandatory Minimum Penalties: Their Effects on Crime, Sentencing Disparities, and Justice System Expenditures. 43. Retrieved from http://canada.justice.gc.ca/en/
 Statistics Canada. (2011). Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2011 (Catalogue 85-002-X). Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2012001/article/11692-eng.pdf