Police, Courts, and Prisons

Part 1 – The problems

Lee Friday

In virtually every country, citizens are becoming increasingly disillusioned with various aspects of their government’s performance in the fields of lawmaking and law enforcement. As we explore this issue, it helps to have some data to facilitate an analysis. The data which follows is taken from Canada, and while the data will differ from country to country, the analysis is applicable everywhere.

In 2008 – 09, the performance record of the Canadian justice system and police services was as follows:

79% of homicides were NOT solved

96% of attempted murders were NOT solved

90% of robberies were NOT solved

91% of sexual assaults were NOT solved

84% of major assaults were NOT solved

97% of thefts were NOT solved

97% of break and enters were NOT solved

(Additional detail and discussion of these statistics, as well as the source, are provided in Part 8)

With each passing year, the public grows increasingly disillusioned with the State’s performance, or lack thereof. Public dissatisfaction is based on:

1) Insufficient prevention of violent crime

2) Low crime resolution rates

3) Police focus on ‘petty offences’ instead of violent crime prevention and investigation

4) Exorbitant police budgets, especially in light of the first three concerns

5) Lengthy, convoluted court procedures

6) Plea bargaining

7) Insufficient sentencing

8) Prisons filled with drugs and violence

9) Release – Often Early Release – of violent offenders who turn into ‘repeat’ offenders (recidivism)

In Canada, a majority of crimes committed against people and property are NOT reported to police (Part 8), a fact we can safely attribute to many of the concerns outlined above. This lack of engagement by the public is not born of apathy. It comes from intense feelings of frustration and despair about the ‘system’. A majority of Canadians surveyed do NOT have a great deal of confidence in the police, or the justice system. Look carefully at the dark blue segments of the lines in the graph.

 

This series of essays attempts to identify the reasons for the poor performance of these bureaucratic institutions, an analysis which will cover the following issues:

1) Define Law

2) Define Justice

3) Customary Law vs. Authoritarian Law i.e. Common Sense vs. Arbitrary Legislation

4) Explore the historical evolution from Victim Justice to Criminal Punishment

5) The evolution of lawyers

6) The evolution of police

7) Marginalizing the victim, penalizing the taxpayer, encouraging recidivism

8) Historic and modern examples of private policing, justice, and restitution

Go to Part 2

 

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