It also flies in the face of medial science insofar as it implicitly rests upon the premise that children are capable of the same level of intellectual functioning as adults, when medical science says unequivocally that this is just not possible.

If, as is the avowed purpose of this proposed legislation, the intent is to “reduce crime”, then it also flies in the face of criminological evidence. Quite simply:

  • there is no credible evidence to support the proposition that harsh laws deter crime (whether youth or adult crime);
  • there is no credible evidence to support the proposition that high rates of incarceration (of youth or adults) have any correlation with reduction in crime;
  • but, there is considerable evidence to support the proposition that children are susceptible to the adult role models with whom they spend the majority of their formative years; and
  • there is considerable evidence to support the theory that labeling a child as a criminal more often than not has the effect of that child adopting that identity and retaining it (and the behaviours that go with it) well into adulthood.

The John Howard Societies in Alberta and Canada are dedicated to safe communities. Whenever considering a program or project, or analyzing proposed government policy of legislation, we always start with the same question:

“Will this, at the end of the day, make our community safer?”

Consider the implications of locking little children (and how else refer to those aged 12, 13, or even 14) in prisons with hardened adult criminals for decades.

At the end of the day, when those adults who have spent the majority of their formative years and adult life in prison finally are released, are they likely to be kindly disposed towards a society and community that has put them through that in the first place?

Are they likely to have attained the equivalent of post-graduate degrees in criminality?

Are they likely to have had among the very worst examples of our society as their daily role models?

And will we, at the end of the day, have done something positive to make our communities safer?

These are somewhat rhetorical questions in the sense that answers are, or ought to be, self-evident.

So why would we even be contemplating such proposals?

JOHN HOWARD
SOCIETY OF ALBERTA

2nd Floor, 10523-100 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5J 0A8

Phone: (780) 423-4878
Fax: (780) 425-0008

Email: info@johnhoward.ab.ca
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www.johnhoward.ab.ca

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The Reporter, a publication of the John Howard Society of Alberta, is distributed free of charge to a wide audience of citizens, educators, agencies, and criminal justice staff. Our goal is to provide information and commentary on timely criminal justice issues. We welcome and encourage your feedback on The Reporter.

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ISSN 1192-4381