Editorial – Only option is spend

Jeff Burgar

The RCMP officer said, “Crime numbers are down right now. It’s because the local bad guys are mostly in jail. When they get out, statistics might go up.”

This comment, and a truthful comment at that, was said almost 15 years ago. Has anything changed since then? Judging from last week’s many comments on the CBC TV website, not very much at all. It’s possible things are actually worse.

For those who follow such things, the legal industry is a business in great danger from future technology changes. Consider how much legal expertise is needed these days. It’s a ritual song and dance. The defence says, “Your honour. The defendant knows he [she] did wrong. They plan to go into [choose one or more] – rehab, stop drugs, stop drinking, move to a new town, find new friends, get their life in order, etc, etc. A Grade 8 student, or a robot, could do the same, could they not?

Heck, shake some dice. Take the result and pick a matching option from a list. There’s your defence.

For sentencing, roll the dice again. Two months. Six months. A year? These days, it seems any sentence past a year goes into the realm of “things that go bump in the night and other fantasies.”

Yet, crime itself is a growth industry. Legal eagles, judges, clerks, police and yes, even many criminals make decent livings from crime.

There is no incentive at all changing this entire ecosystem. There is only incentive to make it bigger.

And so, bigger is happening. Alberta announced last week it will increase, by almost 20 per cent, the number of RCMP boots on the ground.

And the crowd goes wild! Well, not exactly. In fact, not even close. On the above mentioned CBC website, many, many comments are all about lenient judges giving low-ball jail sentences. “Catch and release” habits of the court system are blasted. There are also many comments property owners should get more legal protection if defending their property. Generally speaking, while there is support for more cops, many feel the system itself is at fault.

Like the RCMP officer quoted above, crime is down because bad guys are in jail. Crime can be expected to go up when they are released. Which means, many crimes against property and against people are done by the same people over and over again. Same drunks. Same break and enter artists. Same spouse beaters. Slapping them in jail with no effective rehab programs has no impact on many of them. So out they come, happily again inflicting their brand of crime on the general population.

The Alberta announcement is in the best tradition of government: Throw money at a problem.

Will more cops mean less crime? Or will even more of your money end up in the hands of even more people. Not just the sharp end. More legal defenders. Prosecutors. Jailers. More paper pushers. The assumption always being, a certain part of society will always do bad things. Period.

Never bother learning root causes that need fixing as well.

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