Irvin Waller calls for governments to meet international standards of victim assistance and invest in preventing victimization.

Does Canada have its own new Jim Crow?

Does Canada have its own new Jim Crow? Is Canada making the same mistakes as the USA? Are racial minorities disproportionately victims of violence due to over-reliance on incarceration?

Canada´s famous CBC report the Sunday Edition focused recently on fact not political fiction. Canada not only over-incarcerates its minorities but is allowing rapid growth in incarceration of Aboriginal Peoples and visible minorities. Unfortunately these policies are not reducing violence, particularly for Aboriginal Peoples and ¨visible minorities¨. Let´s get strategies that champion victims by stopping violence. Let´s stop taxes going to pick up pieces. Let’s get smarter crime control in Canada.

The Sunday Edition noted that you cannot (arrest or) incarcerate your way to public safety. The leading super-cops are saying this. The hard-nosed researchers who rely on facts echo it as well. The opinion polls show the public supporting it. But even in Canada, some politicians ignore the facts, do not do what the public wants, do not stop violence, do increase incarceration, and do unnecessarily drive up taxes.

More and more of Canadian federal taxes are going to larger government for the same missed opportunity of effective prevention of violence and so of victimization. But, it is much worse, provincial taxes are already out of control as they go to police reaction, some arrests and too much incarceration. Even worse still, municipal politicians have allowed taxes to be eaten by policing costs also being used to react rather than prevent. These are taxes that could be used otherwise to create jobs, outreach to youth in difficulty, and invest in pre-school education. In Ontario, taxes well spent using evidence to cope with violent crime might get the credit rating back in the black as their own fiscal adviser told them in his chapter 14.

In reality, the latest scientific report by Canada´s relatively independent correctional investigator notes the outrageous growth in Aboriginal and visible minority prisoners. Yes, but do not forget that this reflects more than anything the failure to address the problems that lead to their disproportionate numbers as victims and perpetrators of violence. The principal reason for the over use of incarceration reflects the lack of investment in well-established smart policing and prevention policies that would stop the violence before it happens in the problem places.

Prevention is simply the most effective and cost effective way of reducing crime and all the rest is picking up the pieces. Fortunately, some Canadians are still ahead of the game and eking out effective ways to public safety. Municipalities like Montreal, Waterloo Region, Edmonton and others are struggling to get investments in prevention, but what they are doing is evidence based, effective and engaging the public. Police leadership in Saskatchewan and now Winnipeg is shifting from over-reliance on punishment to smart policing and prevention with impressive results. Let´s invest in stopping violence and reducing taxes – smarter crime control.

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