Friday, January 22, 2010

Canadians' views on crime are hardening, poll finds

I guess the folks at Sun Media and City TV are proud of themselves:

A nation that has traditionally thought of itself as liberal and forgiving is adopting a hard line on crime and punishment – including the death penalty.

This hardening attitude among Canadians is revealed in a new Angus Reid public opinion survey that found 62 per cent of respondents favour capital punishment for murderers, while 31 per cent believe that rapists should be put to death.

The figure is a significant boost from the last such survey, in 2004, when 48 per cent favoured capital punishment for murderers.

The results of the survey are sure to buoy the federal government, which has closely aligned itself with tough-on-crime policies such as mandatory minimum prison terms for a wide range of offences. However, they belie statistics that show falling crime rates and studies that say harsh sentences don't prevent people from committing offences.

The survey, one of three conducted simultaneously last fall in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, reveals a shared belief that even though mandatory minimum sentences can be unfair to people convicted of minor offences, they are an indispensable tool in fighting crime.

From the Globe. And anyone who takes issue with my comment about Sun Media and City TV should note this:
University of Toronto criminologist Anthony Doob said that federal and police statistics show that in 2008, the volume and severity of crime fell by 5 per cent – a pattern that is consistent with previous years.
No real surprise here. Crime has been declining in most Western democracies for decades, yet at the same time media coverage of crime has skyrocketed. If you got all your news from Breakfast Television, for instance, you'd think that almost nothing happened in the world except for crimes and accidents.

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