Why Canada's Tough on Crime Policy Does Not Seem to Be Effective?

Published: 2021-07-08
458 words
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Boston College
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Apparently, Canadas tough on crime policy has not been effective. This is because, despite the fact that crime rates in Canada have been declining, prison populations have been increasing over the years. There seems to be disconnection because one would expect that a reduction in crime rates would lead to a decrease in the prison population. The disconnection has been attributed to former Prime Minister, Stephen Harpers tough on crime strategy. Since Harper came into office in 2006, there have been legislative and policy changes that have been designed to tackle crime and ensure that communities are safer which have proved to be futile (Comack et al., 2015).

Studies have revealed that the crime policies were framed on the basis of ideology rather than scientific evidence of what works when tackling crime. The policy changes have not met their objectives. The legislative changes took away the 2-for-1 credit that judges used to grant for time spent in pre-trial custody with an argument that the system would be unclogged by ensuring that individuals charged with an offense are discouraged from remaining in remand custody so that they may get a reduced sentence. However, instead of the numbers going down, they went up almost immediately. The majority of people in provincial jails are not people who have been convicted; they are people who are awaiting their trial dates (Comack et al., 2015).

The crime strategy led to cuts in finances used by the Federal government to support correctional service operations. As a result, rehabilitation programs were affected, and people started to simply be warehoused. The budget cuts have made prisons to be a haven of nurturing crime and hardening the inmates into being serious criminals. People nowadays leave prison with new strategies for engaging in more serious criminal activities. Federal budget cuts have affected education programs to the extent that at the moment, there is no prison school system in operation. Access programs have been affected to the extent that prisoners are now incapable of completing their correctional plans which are a requirement for one to be eligible for parole. Consequentially, fewer prisoners are being recommended for parole and are being kept longer in custody. This is making prisoners to be released late in their sentence without any money, making them susceptible to recidivism. The policies have also made it difficult for family members to visit their relatives in prison, this has made prisoners feel more isolated from society, making them develop an outlaw mentality. Developing an outlaw mentality is likely to make an individual engage in recidivism (Comack et al., 2015).


Comack, E., Fabre, C., & Burgher, S. (2015). Fast Facts: The Tough on Crime Strategy Has Not Made Our Communities Safer. CCPA. Retrieved on June 24, 2017, from https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/commentary/fast-facts-tough-crime-strategy-has-not-made-our-communities-safer

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