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SOSC 2350 (212)
Lecture 4

Lecture 4 - Canadian Consitution and Charter

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Social Science
SOSC 2350
Tanja Juric

SOSC2652 Anna Pratt September 26, 2013 Lecture #3: Understanding Canadian Criminal Justice Ashley Smith Story Themes of Criminal Justice 5. Inequality  The nature and effects of criminal justice are shaped by broader social relations of power  Main issue with mechanism of bail o Studies have shown that white people are more likely to get bail o People granted bail are more likely to have more onerous conditions if they are nonwhite o People granted bail more likely to be found not guilty when case comes to trial 6. Socio-Historical Context: Change over Time and Place  Definitions of crime, modes of punishment and severity of punishment change over time  Influenced by many historically and culturally specific factors: moral beliefs, discrimination, political ideologies and agendas, grass-roots political struggles, economic interests, the media, etc.  Systemic forms of inequality and all above can come into play  Recently in Canada, strong influence has been interest groups that are advocates for victims and victim’s rights  Tapping into and mobilizing of support from victims rights groups  Diff pieces of legislation being justified by specific reference to this group Quote on slide – marijuana  Emily Murphy – wanted to see MJ and other drugs incriminated Factors Influencing Shifting CJ Responses to Marijuana  Availability  Research on effects of different drugs  Media influences, public opinion  Expert knowledge (medical, criminological – link between use and crime?)  Economics  Social axes of disadvantage (race, class)  Interest groups and grassroots politics  Legal challenges and decisions  International influence (US)  Law and order politics  Police in favour of reduced penalties for small-time marijuana offense  Majority of Canadians (from studies that have been done) hold position not shared by federal government  While there is an acknowledge of failure of war on drugs in States, Harper is firm on a tough position on criminalization of weed The cultural and historical specificity of modes of punishment  Capital punishment which is now abolished  Imprisonment most popular for  Death penalty still in place in areas of world  Canada, hanging was always pref approach  US pref hanging to start with and then turned to electric chair  Now it is lethal injection  In States, variety of means including chair, lethal gas, firing squad, etc. Politics, Popular Culture and the Media  Law and order politics  Decreasing crime rates  Increasing public fear  Media Cultural Rep of Crime and Criminals  Death Row Marv The Social Production of Moral Indifference (Nils Christie)  The production of indifference facilitated by gender, racial and class divides  Quote by Cayley on slide – “Willingness to inflict pain…” Public (Mis)perceptions, Crime and the Media  Media Coverage: o Tends to focus on sensational, violent crimes o Brief stories o Focus on offence o Few details about the case  Contributes to social diff between public reading case and offender involved  When you provide public with more info, and asked them more questions or give them more details or info on background, people are less likely to advocate more severe penalties  More likely to be flexible on views on sentencing and be supportive of less punitive response and instead go toward rehabilitation or intervention  Most public gets info from mass media but misinformed about crime and CJ issues  Most fearful of crime out of proportion to actual risk of victimization  Main misperception is rates of crime (the fact they are increasing when actually decreasing)  Stats on slide – police reported crime rate (1962-2012) o Extremely unreliable measures of actual rates of commission of crime o Police reported crime rate – overall crime by 100,000 population o Marked 9 consecutive decrease in Canada’s crime rate o Now at its lowest point since 1972 o Decline in rates in non-violent crimes and also decline in rates of frequent violent crimes (a
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