INTRO TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE
UNDESTANDING CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICIES; A HYPOTHETICAL CASE
- An accused person is being sentenced, if he had been in the community since the day he was charged, everyone would agree that he deserves a 90 day sentence,
but he has spent 60 days in presentence custody for the charge that he was just convicted of (e.g. bail denial)
o How long a prison sentence would he presumptively get today?
o What sentence do you think he should get today?
- If you get a 90 days sentence, you usually serve just 60 days, what happens in provincial sentences, 1/3 of the sentence is remitted unless you do something
horrible...usually no more than 60 days, recently judges have been told that they are suppose to take it into account, therefore you have different amounts,
presumptively it should be 1 for 1 made recently by the government
IDENTIFYING WHAT IS SAID; PRESS RELEASES, ETC.
- Government “funding” announcements
- Use to identify actual policies
- Problems: need to identify what they “mean” and evaluate against some standard
- Purpose may not be obvious
- Can speculate what question is really being asked...opportunity to say something and make a comment, look at what they mean and their purpose
- Hint: criminal justice policies “interact”—have effects on multiple parts of CJS
- From the “news release” handout
o message; adding prisons is going to make you safe
o what might you want to ask about that assertion?
o what is their assumption? They are saying that this will reduce crime, the money spent to keep an additional criminal in prison is a good investment for
public safety (~$100 000 per criminal annually) this raises the question if this money is able to use it for something else like rehab, or more police, etc.
There isn’t the debate of what the social policy should be, the choices of how you spend money are complex policy choices
o second paragraph, “right side of law abiding citizens”, value judgement, there are two sides of the issue, you either agree or disagree, but usually not just
black and white...this implies its either one way or the other but things aren’t that simple, it is a set of value judgements that are complex, this comment
however makes it simpler than it really is
o “prisoners serves sentence that better reflect their crimes” ; this is something that is important to us, the biggest consensus in sentencing is that is should
reflect the seriousness of the crime,
o “violent crime, sentenced to 9 years can be on the streets as little as 3 years, if they spend 2 years awaiting trial”; two complex things wrapped into one, 1)
pre-trial detention and the credit for pre-trial detention, 2) how long people actually spend in prison...”this possibility is not acceptable to
Canadians...criminals pay their full debt to society”, the prisons are available in 2013-2014 would reflect the growth in Canadian population, talking about
this in the context of people spending time in prison and the 1 for 1 credit, the effects is that 10 month in pre-trial detention the appropriate sentence
would have been 30 months what they are doing in this article is that they are giving less credit to a person who has been in pre-trial detention thus
moving people from provincial to federal prisons
WHY STUDY CANADA’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
- Understanding the nature of an important part of Canadian society
o State\s role in punishment
- “everyone knows” about crime and cjs, the problem of people’s beliefs in the truth of their own intuitions
o Why are certain groups over-represented in prisons in Canada?
o If sentences for a particular offence were made more harsh, would the incidence of that rime decrease?
- Part of the system (often) cannot be considered in isolation—seldom talked about that way, all these parts (policing, sentencing, etc.) are integrated and related to
- Importance of “criminal justice policy” politically
UNDERSTANDING THE COURSE
- CJS is not a machine results are not predictable, the decisions are much more complex
- Look at the study questions for exam prep
CRIME AGENDA, PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITY 2010-2011
- Crime vs. Punishment?
- Impact on crime?
- Impact on (actual) punishment
- Addressing fixable problems?
- What are they meant to do?
- How do you characterize the “the crime agenda” (it is a short-hand for criminal justice/punishment, etc., have to do with defining crime, a lot has to do with
- Solution: provide you with the data
- Five parliamentary sessions across two Parliaments 39 and 40 th
- Definition of a “crime bill” (inherently problematic)
- Are they areally addressing “crime” or is it a “punishment” bill
THE BEGINNING IN 2006; ARE CONDITIONAL SENTENCES ACCEPTABLE
1 - Conditional sentence of imprisionment [C-9, 39(1); C-42, 4-(2), C-16, 40(3)]
- Up to 2 years less a day “ordinary” person
- Substitutions “equally punishing” community punishments
- Problem; sounds “soft”
- If the judge don’t believe they are dangerous, substitute with non-custodial/prison sentence as long as it is proportional to the seriousness of the offence
- First Government “Crime Bill’’ (C-9, May 2006) –Restrictions, can’t give substitions under certain circumstances e.g. break and enter in dwelling house...the intent
was to not give conditional sentence to certain crimes
- Has evolved into “house arrest”/curfews, the person other than working have to stay at their house and set conditions of when they can leave their house...it has
become more punitive but the person is not in jail, the government started that because they thought it would be a sure win, because of a lot of public concern
about conditional sentences
- Is it different from probation?
- Still controversial (see C-16, current session)
STUDY (NATIONAL CANADIAN SURVEY)
- Case B&E Theft, randomly assigned condition—
- Judge deciding 6 month prison or 6 month conditional sentence
- Same except conditional sentence described; evening and weekend curfew and restitution and community work
- Proportion preferring conditional sentence
o No description 28%
o Description – 65%
- When you hear about public opinion, you need to think about what people are thinking
PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE—MANDATORY MINIMUM PENALTIES GOVERNMENT PRESS RELEASE SLIDE
- Mandatory minimum penalty mean that judge cannot go below a certain penalty,
- To “tackle crime”; they are believing that this bill will make you safer,
- “will be subject to a significant sentence”, prior to this bill firearm robbery penalty was 4 years since 1996
- “restricted or prohibited firearm”, handgun or machine gun
- The theory behind it is that this will “tackle crime”, the underlining theory is that a 5 year minimum is better than a 4 year minimum is what is implicit (the irony is
that no one KNEW there was even a minimum before this bill, no one knew that it was 4 years)
- “will be subject to a significant sentence” and in the backgrounder is “tougher mandatory minimum:
CANADIANS AND MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES
- Mandatory minimum sentences
o Unusal in Canadian criminal law (about 31)...another is impaired driving fine for first offence min 30 days and 90 days or 60 months afterwards,
manslaughter doesn’t have but there is for manslaughter with firearm