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Pathways to Safer Communities: Rethinking Crime Prevention

by David Kilgour, M.P., Edmonton Southeast
May 21, 1997

It is now widely accepted that effective crime prevention can reduce crime and protecting Canadians better from crimes of violence must be a priority as we enter the 21st century. Central to this must be a many-sided national anti-crime strategy. It should be comprehensive enough to achieve long-term and permanent results and it must contain elements which can be put swiftly into operation. Key elements in changing the culture of violence should include: justice system reform, victims' rights and support, new approaches to sentencing and policing, social/community development, financial support for preventive programs that work, research and information, and monitoring programs and projects. Criminologists say that a combination of all contributing factors, rather than any single one of them, best correlates to crime and violence so prevention strategies must be diverse as well.

Crime and Punishment

Despite small reductions recently, the crime rate nationally in 1995 was 7% higher than a decade ago. Canadians continue to feel threatened by crime: half of us feel less safe than five years ago. The National Crime Prevention Council says 48% of Canadians believe violent crime is increasing. After unemployment, crime was viewed by Canadians in one poll as the most important issue. We are 50% more likely than Europeans and 500% more likely than Japanese to be victims of burglary, assault, sexual offences and robbery. In any given year, we have a one in-four chance of being victimized by a crime and, according to the Fraser Institute, a 99% chance of being victimized through the course of our lifetime. Canadians spend, the Institute estimates, about $ 195 million on security devices and security systems.

Spending more on law enforcement is not producing the desired results. In June 1995 there were 2.7 million crimes known to police for our population of about 30 million. The population in federal prisons climbed 22% between 1989-90 and 1994-95. In 1995-96, there was a daily average of 33,791 adult prisoners in federal and provincial institutions. There are 4,900 young people in jail in Canada on any given day, an increase of 26% since 1986-87. Incarceration now costs $ 100,000 a year for a young offender and between $40,000 and $80,000 for adults. A total of $ 1.9 billion was spent on corrections in Canada during 1995 alone.

Data from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics confirms that we have one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world. In 1994-95, our rate was 130 per 100,000 persons, which was exceeded by Russia with 558 per 100.000, the U.S., 529 per 100,000, and South Africa, 368 per 100,000. The rate in the United Kingdom was 92; Italy 89; France 86; Germany 66; Belgium 72; Sweden 66; and Turkey 51.

Despite the escalating rates of incarceration in Canada through the period 1989-96, our crime rate has remained relatively constant. In 1994, there were 55,865 police officers across Canada. Between 1962 and 1993, the number of police more than doubled, while the number of crime incidents increased by 430%.

New Ways of Fighting Crime

Irwin Waller, the respected director general of the Montréal-based International Centre for the Prevention of Crime, believes Canada needs to look to countries other than the U.S. for new ideas of how to combat crime. "What Canada has done for two centuries -- wait for crime to happen and react -- is incredibly expensive in terms of the losses that victims suffer, the losses to cities and the health costs as a result of injuries." An international forum at a conference held in Vancouver in 1996 called "Towards World Change: Setting the Stage for Community Safety" heard successful experiences from around the world in new and less expensive approaches to crime prevention.

A mix of social and situational crime prevention is being used in the Netherlands and Belgium with excellent results. Both countries recruit unemployed persons to work as paid "city guards." Approximately 20,000 unemployed people in the Netherlands receive a few weeks of training and serve on the streets, acting as street monitors, tourist guides and mediators in petty disputes. They do not have any power; that is reserved for the police. The results included a decrease in petty crimes, an improved city image, and important work experience and training for the unemployed, leading to some jobs in other sectors.

In Britain, closed-circuit televisions in public places have cut crime and court costs. Violent crime in Gloucester, as reported by the head of the Crime Prevention Agency of England and Wales, Ian Chisholm, dropped by 80 per cent after two television-monitoring systems were installed. In Newcastle, crime fell by 30% and most of those charged with videotaped crimes pleaded guilty, avoiding costly trials.

More Effective Policing

In the U.S. it is respectable again to believe that police can have a real impact on crime rates. For decades, criminologists held the view that crime was too deeply connected to underlying social causes: from the state of the economy to family break down. These causes are still recognized as crime-producing, but what has changed is the view that police are useful only to chase down bad guys after they strike.

James Q. Wilson, the criminologist and political scientist whose ideas helped engineer New York's stunning crime reduction, believes that the number of police on the streets of a city probably has only a weak, if any, relationship with the crime rate. "What the police do is more important than how many there are at least above some minimum level," he says. The directed patrols strategy, advocated by Wilson, aimed at hot spots, loitering truants, late night wanderers, probationers, parolees, and possible gun carriers, all in addition to routine investigative activities will require more officers in many cities, but can make streets safer without sending more people to prison.

The '90s has seen a reinvention of how the police do their work, especially in major cities: a change from squad cars to foot patrols; a shift to "proactive" policing that aims at dissolving problems such as open-air drug marts rather than making arrests; more frequent creation of cross-agency task forces to target specific problems such as car theft or drug crimes. New York is a good example of a new approach to policing where major crime -- murder fell by 40%, rape, robbery, auto theft, grand larceny, assault and burglary are in a statistical free fall, dropping by more than a quarter in two years. "So now you're seeing better policing. Not miracles or panaceas but better policing," says John DiLulio Jr., a professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University.

Tougher and softer approaches simultaneously are being adopted by police forces: tougher means more aggressive intervention by police, e.g. arresting drug dealers for trespassing. The softer approach means more neighbourhood-friendly tactics: the foot patrolling and problem solving that form the loosely defined strategy called community policing -- neighbourhood cleanups, counselling on child abuse, helping children with homework, playing basketball with youths, etc.

There is a move away from patrol-car policing that limits them to 911 emergency response calls. Face-to-face contact between police and the people they work among with no windshield in between helps to build trust. The Edmonton Police Service attributes declining crime rates and increasing clearance rates to the department-wide implementation of the community-based policing philosophy.

New York City Experience

New York City, a place that has long been synonymous with out-of-control crime, appears to be scoring a victory in its battle against crime. Most major U.S. and Canadian cities have also reported lower crime rates in 199S, but the decline in New York has been going on longer and is far steeper than almost anywhere else. Since early 1993-1995, its murder rate dropped by more than 37 per cent; robbery by 31 per cent; and auto theft by 35 per cent. The number of serious crimes has fallen (the lowest levels in 25 years) by 27 per cent during these two years, compared with the overall U.S. decline of only 2% in the same period.

New York's dramatically falling crime rates have also been affiliated with "simultaneity" -- many things happening at the same time and it's hard to sort them out: prison building is paying off, taking the most dangerous criminals off the street, changing demographics (decreasing numbers of young men 15-24), the crack epidemic may be fading, turf wars among drug dealers are declining, the police force has been shaken up, beefed up, decentralized and modernized.

The primary factor in New York's new climate appears to be the triumph of the "broken windows" theory. It was announced by James Q. Wilson and criminologist George Kelling in a 1982 Atlantic Monthly article. In essence, they said that the best way to fight serious crime is to fight the disorder that precedes it and weakens a neighbourhood -- panhandling, graffiti, alcoholics sleeping on the sidewalks, wreaked cars that remain unsowed, a street population taking over a park.

In this new view, the core function of police is the prevention of crime by maintaining order. "The broken-windows theory is ascendant over Manhattan's traditional liberal culture of root causes and of untrampable individual rights for troubled street people. This is happening in other cities too, and it's very good news for us all," says US. News and World Report.

The former Police Commissioner William Bratton, appointed in 1994, introduced sweeping changes to crime-fighting. He believes in the 'corporate' approach to police work: "I'm trying to run the NYPD as you would a private corporation, criminals are our competition. In the private sector, you always keep an eye on what your competitors are doing and try to stay one step ahead of them."

Bratton brought in computerized maps to track crime patterns. He made drug squads and other specialty units work beyond their former nine-to-five hours. He got tough with officers on the ground: precinct commanders and other top police brass are questioned once a month on crime patterns in their neighbourhoods. Bratton designed these compstat (short for computer statistics) meetings as a way to make his 76 far-flung precinct commanders and 38,000 police officers accountable for the crime rate. Nobody has done it before and it works: for two years, crime declined in all 76 precincts; murder was down 39%; auto theft 35%, robberies were off by a third; and burglaries were down by a quarter.

Compstat has become the Lourdes of policing, drawing 'pilgrim cops' from around the world. Bratton's strategy was to shift the department's focus toward community policing and promoting an atmosphere that makes crime less likely in the first place: cracking down on petty offences such as graffiti and drinking in public. These are considered "quality of life" crimes, which are at the top of the police priorities. The theory is that tolerating public disorder creates a street environment that intimidates law-abiding people and opens the way for more serious crime.

This theory appears sound. Police in New York are finding that people arrested for minor violations often turn out to be armed, already wanted on other charges, or both. In 1993, one of every 438 people arrested for riding the subway without paying was carrying a loaded gun. Now that police routinely frisk such people, the figure has dropped to one in every 1,034.

An increase in community and small business action in certain areas to clean up blighted blocks, providing extra lighting and improving building security, have had an impact in formerly crime-plagued areas such as Times Square and Grand Central Station.

The New York Transit hired criminologist George Kelling and turned the subways around since about 1990. Zero-tolerance policies for graffiti and panhandling were launched. Many thousands of turnstile jumpers were arrested in vast sweeps. With social control returning, riders began to trust the subways again and crime rates fell. The same theory was applied to parks. Bryat Park, an open-air drug den near Grand Central Station, was converted into a "derelict-free jewel of a space with fresh flowers."

New techniques in crime fighting also include mandatory community service instead of prison for non-violent criminals, special attention to young offenders and redesign of streets and houses to reduce criminal opportunities. In the U.S. and hopefully now in Canada, there are a great number of criminal justice intervention projects, which include programs for victim restitution, job placement, substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation and sentencing alternatives.

The 1996 Report of the U.S. National Criminal Justice Commission, The Real War on Crime, identified a number of cost-effective programs that reduce and prevent crime in varying degrees. From among thousands that were tried in the U.S., the Commission selected those which it "...believes that if one or more of these programs is implemented in a given community, the results will be positive." Examples of successful preventive programs include:


Earn-it is a victim restitution program serving as a sentencing alternative for Juvenile Court. Since its inception in 1988, more than three-quarters of Earn-it youth have successfully repaid their victims and community.

Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program (SWAP)

Created as a response to overcrowded jails, the SWAP program allows offenders to "work off" their sentences through various jobs, ranging from shovelling snow to washing county vehicles. Participating 'driving under the influence' offenders have a 3 per cent recidivism rate, while other participating offenders have a 20% recidivism rate, compared to a 70 to 75 per cent one for offenders who serve jail sentences.

Court Employment Project (CEP)

This is for youthful felony offenders and provides counselling, education training, job training and placement, drug counselling, parenting skills, and anger control counselling. Re-arrest rates for felony offenders sentenced to standard sentencing options were 96 to 150% higher than for offenders sentenced to six months in CEP followed by five years on probation.

Family Ties

Family Ties identifies the needs of each delinquent child and works to strengthen family functions through intensive home-based services, therapy, counselling and decision-making and anger management skills. Approximately eight in ten of all juveniles who participated in Family Ties during l 991 and 1992 remained uninvolved with the juvenile system six months later. Over a period of a year or more, the success rate was 82 per cent.

Shaming Sentences as an Alternative to Prison?

In recent years, sentences given by some judges in the U.S. increasingly emphasize humiliation. The aim is also to shame the criminal and to show moral condemnation in addition to punishment. It is becoming increasingly popular with judges who wish to cut imprisonment costs -- while shaming offenders into reforming their conduct.

Research on the effectiveness of shaming is almost non-existent, but scattered evidence suggests that the strategy is effective with juvenile offenders who are forced to apologize in public or adults whose identities are made public in morally loaded non-violent crimes like check kiting, drunken driving, soliciting prostitutes, embezzlement, burglary or larceny. The shaming sentences have a lot in common with strategies once used by American Indian tribes or groups like the Amish, both of whom shunned members who broke societal rules.

The University of Chicago legal scholar, Dan Kahan, argues that the new penalties are emerging as a serious rival to imprisonment, "because they do something that conventional alternative sanctions don't do -- express appropriate moral condemnation," and free up badly needed jail space for serious offenders.

Two examples of "creative" sentencing given out by judges in the U.S.:

  • A teenager who had stolen and damaged an elderly woman's car was ordered to pay for the repairs on the stolen Buick and to turn over his Pontiac Trans Am to the victim while her car was in the shop;
  • Convicted drunk drivers put bumper stickers on their cars notifying others of their record.

Some critics claim certain debasing sentences go too far; some shaming sentences have been struck down by courts. Guidelines are probably needed to discourage judges from idiosyncratic sentences; though shaming is clearly useful for minor offences, particularly those involving juveniles, judges should be cautious about using it on hardened offenders or the flamboyantly unrepentant. Law enforcement agencies should begin serious research into the question of when such sentences work and when they do not.

Nipping Violence in the Bud

Criminologists have established that about 6% of boys of a given age will commit half or more of all serious crime produced by males of that age. This formula has been found to be consistent and true in major urban centres in various countries. As most criminal careers begin in juvenile years, it is important to identify the characteristics of these chronic offenders in order to devise and determine what kinds of early intervention programs might prove effective and prevent further delinquency.

James Wilson in his essay, Crime and Public Policy, identifies those in the 6% group: "They tend to have criminal parents; to live in cold or discordant families (or pseudo-families); to have a low verbal intelligence quotient and to do poorly in school; to be emotionally cold and temperamentally impulsive; to abuse alcohol and drugs at the earliest opportunity; and to reside in poor, disorderly communities. They begin their misconduct at an early age, often by the time they are in the third grade. These characteristics tend to be found not only among the criminals who get caught (and who might, owing to bad luck. be an unrepresentative sample of high rate offenders), but among those who don't get caught but reveal their behaviour on questionnaires.... And these traits can be identified in advance among groups of randomly selected youngsters, long before they commit any serious crimes -- not with enough precision to predict which individuals will commit crimes, but with enough accuracy to be a fair depiction of the group as a whole. Not everyone in the 6 percent looks like this, and some high rate offenders begin their criminal careers much later in life; but in general few criminologists are any longer surprised to find that the typical chronic offender looks pretty much as I have described him."

The effective response to this knowledge of preventive strategies will probably determine our rate of success in combating crime. There is evidence that less-costly youth crime prevention programs work over time. Research indicates that for every $1 spent on the early intervention program, almost $7 in savings to the public were generated by averting juvenile placements in youth detention facilities. Programs found to be effective in reducing delinquency are Head Start (pre-school) programs, programs of family visitation and family preservation among others.

Good quality pre-school programs in particular, have proven to be remarkably effective -- years later -- in reducing both the incidence and the severity of criminal behaviour among children who participated in them. One U.S. project, the High/Scope Perry Pre-school Project in Ypsilanti, Michigan, showed that good pre-schools can reduce the costs of crime by nearly $150,000 per participant over a lifetime. A 1993 report Significant Benefits, found that after 20 years, participants had fewer arrests than a control group and were five times less likely to have been arrested five or more times. Other studies also document the reduction of juvenile criminal behaviour through early care and education programs.

A Syracuse University study examined a program that provided child care and home visits to very poor families. Six per cent of the program children, compared to 22 per cent in a control group, became adolescent probation cases. Non-participants committed more robberies, burglaries and physical and sexual assaults. Juvenile justice system costs per child were 10 times less for the pre-school home visiting group than for the control group. Other studies, have come up with similar results, especially related to aggressive behaviour in teens.

The successful programs aiming to make large and lasting changes in a child's prospects for improved behaviour, better school behaviour and lessened delinquency shared the following common features: they dealt with low income families, they intervened during the first five years of a child's life and continued for between 2 and 5 years, they included parent training with pre-school education for the child and they involved extensive home visits. These programs improved over-all self control, and resulted in less fighting, impulsivity, disobedience, restlessness, cheating and delinquency.

Canadian Experience

Crime prevention through social development is taking place in many Canadian communities. Projects in major cities offer street youth employment opportunities to gain valuable work experience; these are programs that aim to reach children and families at risk by improving parenting skills and providing access to services and resources. More research needs to be done to evaluate the success rate of these programs and more funds to extend those that produce positive results.

More research is needed to develop responses on how to deal with children under 12 who commit crimes. The Toronto based Earlscourt Child and Family Centre has found that the response to under-12 offenders varies widely across the provinces and there is little consistency in the way in which these children and their families are identified or helped.

The Earlscourt innovative program. "Under 12 Outreach Project,'' is the only reported treatment program in Canada solely committed to deterring further criminal activities among children under 12 who have had police contact. Since its inception in 1985, 835 children have been referred to the project. The criminal activities of 203 of the treated children are being followed up to age 18 as part of a long-term outcome study. The project's results are encouraging and indicate that the rates of delinquency in this high risk population can be reduced with multisystemic intervention aimed at teaching children self-control, problem solving, basic academic and recreational skills while teaching their parents to use contingent rewards and punishments and to monitor their children's whereabouts. Though offences in Canada committed by children under 12 account for only 1.2% of offences committed by children, youth and adults, these children are at high risk of juvenile delinquency and adult criminality.

The former Edmonton police chief, Doug McNally, who co-chairs the National Crime Prevention Council's prevention and children committee, says that politicians must realize the best and cheapest way of fighting crime is to have healthy children in sound families. Stressing that criminality takes root in disturbed, pre-school children from poorly functioning and often economically stressed families and that disruptive behaviour can be detected when such children first enter school, he believes that by the time they come to the attention of police by age 12 or 13 some may have already passed the point of no return.

McNally observes many people support harsh treatment for young offenders over spending on crime prevention. It costs less than $10,000 per child a year in the Head Start program designed to help children at risk when they start school, but it costs $100,000 a year to keep a young offender in jail. Edmonton has 412 children in Head Start programs, but apparently there are another 3,000 children who need help.

The Second Step violence prevention program, developed by the Seattle based Committee for Children, has been used in many Canadian elementary schools since the early 1 990s. The program takes about 30 minutes of class time a week to teach children about anger management and problem solving by getting them to discuss a series of photographs showing children in common school situations. The program was evaluated by a team of scientists from the University of Washington's Haborview Injury Prevention and Research Centre, who monitored children in the Second Step Program and compared them with children with no counselling. It was concluded that the program resulted in reducing the level of aggression and increasing the pro-social behaviour of the participating children.

Restorative Justice

In Ontario, the Harris government has moved towards minor adult offenders diversion programs. Citing a situation where too many petty offenders are getting off scot-free because the courts and Crown Attorneys are too busy to handle low-priority crime, Harris argued that: "The confrontational diversion approach is better than nothing which seems to happen a lot in minor cases. Some of those penalties are far more onerous than going to court to get a slap on the wrist. We are trying to come up with a tough approach that is tough on crime and rehabilitative." Under this new "Restorative Justice" program, perpetrators and victims are brought together so offenders can apologize to their victims face to face, make amends for transgressions, repay their victims and escape court proceedings and any record of the offence. It only applies to the "most minor offences" like shoplifting, mischief, vandalism and trespassing. Crowns would be required to arrange meetings between perpetrators and their victims to restore differences. Critics of this new program have already voiced their concerns: "This (restorative justice) flies in the complete opposite direction to what you see in New York," one Ontario government official was quoted to have said. "We are not social workers. We don't need touchy-feely programs."

The St. Leonard's Society of London, Ontario, has been involved in restorative justice with first time offenders aged 12-16 for eight years. It says 92% of those children did not re-offend. Recently, the society initiated the formation of justice circles where community members decide on punishment for first-time young offenders in London. In the past, the Crown and St. Leonard's would decide on the community services that best suited a first-time young offender. The major difference with justice circles is that the punishment comes from members of the community. Recently, a justice circle sentenced a 13-year-old to 25 hours of community service for a minor theft. This justice circle consisted of nine people, including two teenagers, a retiree, a social worker and concerned citizens from the community. The director of community programs at St. Leonard's, Alice Lewis, believes a successful circle requires people with a sense of community wanting to build their neighbourhoods. She says they must really care about where they live for restorative justice to be successful: "We want the justice to be restorative while making the young person accountable for his actions," she said ĉ quoted in The London Free Press.

The Sparwood Youth Assistance Program began in 1995 ĉ a community initiative by Sergeant Jake Bouwman of the Sparwood Detachment of the RCMP and Glen Purdy, a Sparwood lawyer in private practice. The purpose of the program is to allow young people who broke the law to be dealt with outside of the traditional court system, through a means of dealing with the young person, the victim, the young person's family, and the community ĉ a whole in an effort to reduce repeat offences by young people. It is based on the Community Accountability Conferencing Model developed in Waga Waga, New South Wales, Australia, and Shame Reintegration Theory. Since the inception of the program, all youth who have committed offences residing in the District of Sparwood and surrounding community have been dealt with in the program rather than the traditional court system. The Sparwood model has since been adopted in 16 other communities in B.C., various ones in Alberta, and several aboriginal communities. The reduction in offence rate has been dramatic since the inception of the program, 26% in 1995 and 67% in 1996. The re-offence rate for young offenders in the program was 8.3% in 1996 as compared with the national re-offence rate for youth of 40%. The offences dealt with have included minor property offences, break and enter, assault, mischief and minor sexual assaults.

Dollars and Cents of an Ounce of Prevention

One study estimates that if we took $1 million and invested it in prison space for career criminals, the investment would prevent 50 crimes a year. If that same amount was used to monitor 12- and 13-year-old delinquents, it would prevent 72 crimes a year. If that million dollars was invested in incentives for young people to graduate from high school, 258 crimes a year would be prevented. In short, money spent on crime prevention should be seen as an investment.

Successful crime prevention requires both political will and financial resources -- two commodities currently in short supply across Canada. The cost of crime to Canadians is staggering: it costs $46 billion a year, including $9.7 billion for the formal justice system and the indirect social costs of crime such as medical) social and employment costs related to crime victims. On the other hand, it is estimated that Canadians spend only $10 million a year on crime prevention. In contrast, Belgium with a population of 10 million spends $140 million a year on crime prevention programs. Burglaries in Great Britain were reduced by 35% thanks to a successful $60 million Safer Cities program. An additional million dollars annually is provided for Crime Concern, an independent organization promoting and initiating local crime prevention activities. In France, there are almost 900 municipal crime prevention councils.

The Dutch have a crime prevention unit equal in status to other justice work with a budget of about $30 million and it continues to grow. More than 100 municipalities have crime prevention co-ordinators in place to facilitate local action in crime prevention.

Crime Prevention Council

In Canada, the National Crime Prevention Council was created in July 1994 as an element of a national strategy to reduce crime and the fear of crime. One of its major roles is to provide federal, provincial and territorial governments with advice on how to direct and unify crime prevention research and activities being undertaken by all levels of government. Another role is to promote new initiatives, enhance ones that are already in place and to come up with recommendations that will allow governments, police forces and other agencies to rethink the way they do their work, and suggest more innovative ways to prevent crime.

This is a very tall order for a 25-member council whose annual budget is about $2 million. To its credit, despite limited resources it has been very active in sponsoring seminars and publishing reports on a number of important issues relating to root causes of crime and advocating crime prevention mainly through social development. The lack of serious attention by all levels of government and lack of substantial core funding for prevention related activities remains a major hindrance in our progress in developing and putting into practice effective anticrime strategies.

The NCPC noted in its first report published in late 1995: "...there is little indication as yet that Canadian governments have rethought their dependence on the traditional reactive responses to crime and victimization. What is more frustrating, there is little indication that their expressed desire to involve communities in prevention has been accompanied by a willingness to provide them with the resources they need if they are to succeed."

The 1993 Homer Report on Crime Prevention in Canada, Towards a National Strategy, addressed the issue of stable core funding in support of crime prevention and the mobilization of communities. It proposed the allocation of 1 % per year of federal spending on criminal justice (to a total of 5% after five years) to crime prevention; and it recommended that the revenues obtained from Proceeds of Crime be directed to support prevention activities. The National Crime Prevention Council, created as a fulfillment of one of the Report's recommendations, has repeatedly called for directing 1 per cent of the federal justice budget to crime prevention. In its 1995 report, Proposal on Proceeds of Crime the NCPC reiterated its calls for a minimum of 50% of revenues resulting from Proceeds of Crime be used for community based crime prevention. The Council also notes its disappointment on the lack of action taken on either recommendation regarding funding for crime prevention.

The RCMP has probably seized more than $100 million in assets across Canada during the last five years and $8.5 million in 1996. A law was passed in 1989, allowing police forces at all levels to seize the proceeds of crime from people convicted in court. In 1993, The Seized Property Management Act was adopted providing a framework for managing seized assets and sharing of forfeited proceeds of crime. A portion of forfeited assets can be shared where agreements are in place with provincial and foreign governments. Sharing is based on the degree of participation of police forces or other agencies from each jurisdiction. The federal government negotiated such agreements with Ontario, the Yukon, B.C., Alberta and New Brunswick.

The recent commitment by the Chrétien government of $30 million a year to be allocated to community based crime prevention is a step in the right direction and will help to carry out work that is still needed to develop effective and comprehensive anti-crime strategies.

Justice For All

Justice to Canadians should mean not only apprehending offenders and bringing them to trial, but also that justice is achieved by the manner in which the court deals with criminals. Canadians and victims' rights groups increasingly voice their concerns that the justice system is too lenient with criminals, that bail and parole are too easily granted, and prison sentences are often not long enough to fit the crime. A comment by Ray Canuel, the Vancouver Chief of Police quoted in the Fraser Institute report on crime cost is indicative of how many Canadians feel about our justice system. "Criminals laugh at the system...I think the general public out there feels the parole system is not working, the corrections aspect is not working...maybe the court system is not working -- it's overloaded, overworked. It's time we have a look at it. If we can fix it, let's do that." Much has been done in the past several years to address these problems yet much remains to be done to ensure the immediate and long-term safety and security of the public. A careful balancing of justice. deterrence, rehabilitation and fairness is needed, particularly when faced with the overcrowded state of our courts and prisons, to maintain public confidence that justice is being done.

Most Canadians question the priorities guiding our justice system, particularly in the context of the Young Offenders Act. It was reported earlier this year that the Justice Department is studying proposals under which chronic criminal abusers could get five years in jail. By contrast, young offenders who kill cannot be sentenced to more than three years in detention, some of which can be served in the community. Scott Newark of the Canadian Police Association, commenting on the problems facing our justice system, had this to say about the Supreme Court of Canada justices: "Their use of power has ensured that justice is now replaced by law in our court rooms."

Victims of Violence, while supporting some crime prevention strategies such as community policing, improved schooling, treatment for victims of abuse and others, believes a more effective justice system to be one of the best weapons of crime prevention. Some of the areas which Victims of Violence identifies as requiring change are: the YOA, repeal s.74S, the parole system, high-risk/dangerous offenders, broader security. improved and more treatment for offenders who need it and more police officers. Victims of Violence stress that "poverty does not equal crime, and to say it is an injustice to every hardworking, honest, disadvantaged Canadian." They add that, "criminal justice reform is an essential part of a crime prevention strategy. More welfare and social assistance may not be programs that Canadians are willing to accept. This will not create self respect, and without respect for oneself, respect for anyone else is difficult. Rewarding individuals for breaking the law (as the Netherlands is considering doing) does not provide an incentive to obey the law."

Rights for Victims of Crime

Although the victim is 50% of the crime, he or she is rarely consulted as half of the solution. The justice system must treat victims of crime with special regard for the pain and loss they have suffered. Victim support services should be available to provide restitution and psychological help, when appropriate, and to explain the procedural steps involved in criminal prosecution. Too often, victims who are also witnesses are required to miss work and appear in court only to learn that the hearing or trial has been postponed or a plea agreement has been reached. Victims of crime should be informed of the status of the case and be given notice if a plea bargain is being considered.

For a number of years, Canadians Against Violence Everywhere Advocating its Termination (CAVEAT) has attempted to bring to the attention of policy-makers the rights of victims: "For too long, victims of crime have been ignored by the criminal justice system. While every safeguard is taken to protect the accused, very little is done to help the victim. There is a severe imbalance between the rights of the accused and those of the victim. Victims not only suffer at the hands of criminals, but also experience revictimization under our justice system which is largely unresponsive to their needs and those of their families."

CAVEAT has developed a number of recommendations to achieve meaningful change on behalf of victims within our justice system. Central to it was the enactment of a Federal Victims' Rights Bill. The recent limited progress at the federal level with some issues relating to victims did not result in the passage of a Victims' Bill of Rights. The new Parliament must find the political will needed to achieve a balance to the treatment of both perpetrators and victims of crime.

Helping Abused Children

Often, while discussing juvenile offenders, it is overlooked that a high proportion of young people are victims of crime. One study showed that 23% of crime victims were between the ages of 12 and 19, double their representation in the population. Of every ten sexual assault victims, four are children, and another four are teenagers. Only two are adults. There is growing evidence that childhood victimization by adults may be a significant factor in criminal behaviour by youths and adults.

Many abused children grow up to be abusers and this sad reality has again been confirmed by research results presented at John's Hopkins University in Baltimore. This recent discovery is one of the first to provide a biological explanation for the connection between violence in childhood and adulthood: children experiencing violence may become violent as their brain structure adapts to abuse.

Youthful experiences can increase levels of the hormone known as vasopressin in adults, which can alter the structure of the brain and profoundly change behaviour. In this context? immediate help and treatment for young children who are victims of sexual/physical abuse is extremely important. The organization, Victims of Violence, has long advocated putting more emphasis on treatment for the victim and not solely for the offenders in order to break the cycle. More funds should be made available to help young victims. Children now may have to wait up to two years to get treatment.

Towards Crime Prevention for 2000

The basis for effective crime prevention across our country has already been laid; we have a breadth of talent and experience to draw upon to develop a comprehensive anti-crime strategy that will make our communities safer. Decisive political leadership, sound and substantial funding and accountability are essential. Swift action is needed to follow the innumerable studies, reports and commissions that we have to date. It is essential that it be all-inclusive and many-sided; we cannot allow the bureaucratic process to take over the formation of all policy; we must allow the voices of victims of crime, police, social activists, educators and ordinary Canadians to be heard.

Developing a coherent strategy and putting it into practice without delay will constitute an ultimate test of how we as a society treat crime, its causes and our safety.

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