SOCI 2450 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Dysfunctional Family, Drug Abuse Resistance Education

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13 Apr 2012
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Criminology 2450- Policy-Makers
There are 3 entities (3P) that play a role in creating the criminal policies in Canada:
Politicians: elected officials who have the ultimate authority over policies in Canada.
Professionals: anyone thats involved in the operation and evaluation of the justice system and
law enforcement. There are two types:
People with Operational Responsibilities such as ministerial officials, police chiefs, crown
attorneys, judges, defence counsel, correctional authorities, and probation officers.
People involved in Planning and Research, such as members of policy and research units in the
government, as well as scholars and researchers outside the government.
Public: general public and the media, as well as public opinion polls. There are interest groups as
well, such as NGOs.
Standards of Evidence-Based Policies
There are 3 standards of evidence-based policies that help make them effective (ERR):
Evidence: empirical evidence is required to determine the effectiveness of a policy.
Random Assignment: experimental or quasi-experimental research designs must be randomly
assigned to treatment and control groups.
Replication: others must be able to replicate the study.
But there are obstacles. Many policies are never evaluated and some policies have harmful
Examples of Ineffective Policies
These are 4 key principles of the “Get Tough on Crime” policy:
Swift, certain, severe punishments will deter crime.
By getting tough with criminals, we can reduce serious crime.
Police officers with more power and resources will reduce crime.
Research is torn on whether more police increases or reduces crime (displacement effect – we
want to be careful we’re not moving crime around).
Longer prison terms will reduce crime.
Scared Straight programs introduce children to offenders in prison to scare them into a life of
obedience. Research suggested that they are ineffective (and most said that the program made
children worse).
The DARE program is ineffective and costs $2 million/year.
When the Cambridge Summerville Youth Project (30s to 45) was evaluated, they found that for
the majority of treatment groups, there was no effect. In the ones where there was an effect size, it
demonstrated increased rates of recidivism.
War on Crime
There is no war on crime. The term itself is wrong (HIM):
High Expectations: by saying its a ‘war on crime’, we set our expectations high (e.g., war on
crime, drugs, and prostitution).
Incorrect Metaphor: this metaphor is used incorrectly anyways because we’re not fighting a
foreign entity – we’re fighting ourselves.
Manufactured Crime: the media manufacture news, thus they manufacture crime.
Political Ideologies
The role of political ideologies in our war on crime: a crime-control ideology is where a group
propagates their beliefs (often religious) without basing them on evidence. There are two main
groups in Canada:
Conservative Ideology: those who believe in this ideology contend that…
Criminals commit crimes because they have low impulse control and a low socio-economic
Criminals choose to offend and therefore must be punished
Long prison sentences and the death penalty are effective deterrents and decrease recidivism
Conservatives tend to emphasize the rules of substantive law (i.e., criminal law), using theCrime-
Control Model, where we put a high priority on the effectiveness of crime control (e.g., arrest,
charging, prosecutions, imprisonment).
Liberal Ideology: those who believe in this ideology contend that…
The social context of the crime is important
Criminal behaviour is largely the result of social influences (e.g. low SES, dysfunctional families)
Restorative justice is effective (i.e., treat criminals with rehabilitation)
Liberals tend to emphasize the criminal process (i.e., criminal procedure), using the Due-Process
Model, where authorities (i.e., juries, judges, officers) have to try people fairly and assume
innocence, i.e., we do our best to prevent the accused from moving forward.
Too much emphasis on criminal law can result in an overpowered government whereas too much
emphasis on criminal procedure can result in overpowered criminals.