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CRIM 101 (459)
Lecture 10

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CRIM 101
Barry Cartwright

PUBLIC POLICY & CRIME PREVENTION THE “GET TOUGH” APPROACH • Assumes that offenders will be deterred by stiffer sentences and harsher terms of imprisonment • little support (if any) in support of this argument THE US EXPERIENCE • US has three strikes rules, mandatory sentencing guidelines and war on drugs • US has one of the highest per capita incarceration rates in the Western World—about five times the rate in Canada • Prison population in the US has doubled over the past decade, and the average length of sentences have tripled • 38 of the US states now have the death penalty • US continues to have much higher rate of violent crime than Canada • Any decline in the overall crime rate in the US has been mirrored in Canada HANG ‘EM HIGH • Louisiana is amongst top five in US when it comes to executions, yet still has second highest murder rate and fifth highest crime rate in US • Louisiana passed 1995 amendment authorizing death penalty in cases of child rape, but recent study of pre-amendment and post-amendment figures showed no effect on reducing number of indictments for (or counts of) child rape in the states • States that do not have the death penalty actually have lower than average murder rates OR AT LEAST LOCK ‘EM UP • ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF LENGTHIER TERMS OF IMPRISONMENT: • incapacitate offender (by preventing him or her from committing crimes while behind bars) • Specific deterrence (ie. Individual offender deterred from future offending by the harshness of the punishment) • general deterrence (ie members of the general public will themselves be deterred from committing crimes when they see harsh punishment meted out of the convicted offender) CUTTING RECIDIVISM - Study of 400 young offenders in Vancouver, serving mean sentences of 100-168 days - Previously served average of 33 months on probation - Recidivism rate still 81% within 12 months of their release BOOT CAMPS - Based on military model, with early wake-ups, rigorous schedules, drills and physical training, and orders from correctional staff that must be followed - Thought that these activities reduce impulsivity and increase positive attitudes towards society PUTTING THE BOOTS TO BOOT CAMPS - Virtually all research into effectiveness of boot camps has been disappointing - 2001 study comparing 2,668 juvenile offenders in 26 boot camps to 1,848 juvenile offenders in 22 traditional correctional facilities in US found no significant difference in impulsivity or pro-social attitudes between the two groups - 2005 California study of long-term arrest data found no difference between long- term recidivism rates for those who had been in boot camps and those who had been in traditional correctional facilities SITUATIONAL CRIME PREVENTION - One of primary objectives of criminal event theory (and routine activities theory, opportunity theory and environmental criminology) is opportunity reduction, often referred to as situation crime prevention - If we know who commits crimes, when and where crimes are committed, and who is most likely to be victimized, then we can take steps to reduce the number of opportunities - Watchwords include "target hardening", “crime prevention through en
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