The Criminal Mind and the Absent-Minded Government

Stockwell Day (along with Rob Nicholson and some other Harper hand-puppets) loves to talk about how the Conservatives are getting tough on crime. They point to their mandatory minimum sentences and try to indicate how this will act as a deterrent.

To whom?

I don’t imagine that deranged sex predators or the bus murderer from yesterday are really thinking, “You know, I was hoping that I would get light sentence, but now I’m not so sure.”

But what about those running various property crime operations, surely they must be more rational – it’s like a business for them right? I’ll point to my post the other day about Igor Kenk the alleged bike theft mastermind of Toronto’s west end. The man had something like 3200 bikes cached all over the city, just piled in garages and stuff. I don’t think he wins any awards for supply-chain management doing business that way.

The idea that criminals are rational economic actors who are responding to incentives and who would include jails terms in their calculus of how to behave just doesn’t seem correct to me. I reckon that most of them don’t even think they’ll be caught in the first place.


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