When it was pointed out to a conservative Cabinet minister that crime rates in Canada were falling and had been for a couple of decades, his response was classic. Unreported crime is on the rise! Isn’t that brilliant? Since unreported crime cannot be measured in any real way it could be said to be increasing exponentially. Who could prove otherwise?
Therein, you have the core of the Conservative attitude toward crime and society. The world is a dangerous place and if you only knew how dangerous you’d do like me — you’d cower under your bed or in a closet somewhere.
Conservatives apparently love crime. And why not? After the myth of their economic management competence, crime is their biggest vote getter. It stimulates their base (in untold and unreported ways I’m sure) and pushes those who might otherwise find their policies reprehensible to consider voting for them.
People like to be afraid apparently.
Of course, conservatives really hate criminals. They are not alone — I’ve yet to see a normal person who loves them (though some abnormal people do) but some of us are moved by compassions and don’t see every law-breaker as simply a product of unmitigated evil. Some of us see crime as a nuanced thing where factors like racism and poverty come into play. Where education and social supports might be more effective at reducing crime rates.
But that’s just it. In their black and white world, Conservatives don’t want to prevent crime they merely want to punish it. Why else would they cancel a program that has been proven effective at stopping sex offenders from re-offending? Why would they reduce the number of spiritual advisers (non-Christian ones anyway) in prisons? Why would they insist that overcrowding and the use of solitary are not problems? Because they want to punish people and not reduce crime.
You don’t have to be tough on something that doesn’t exist, do you? No votes in falling crime rates so Conservatives will continue to build more prisons while doing nothing to actually reduce the likelihood of people turning to crime. Pretty much how they intend to fight radicalization of young people to any number of terrorist (or in the case of neo-Nazis, non-terrorist) activities.
While, personally, I don’t have a big problem with extending the sentences of the most perfidious of criminals — within the limits of the constitution and taking into account the increased risk to prison guards when you have large numbers of no-hopers in jail — I don’t agree with almost every other aspect of the so-called tough on crime agenda — like minimum mandatory sentences — that they put forward.
Why? Because, over and over again, it has proven to be a failure. It doesn’t work — either to reduce crime or to prevent people from re-offending.
Because, unlike conservatives, I want to be tough on crime as well as criminals.
But that’s ten minutes.