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28. Do mandatory jail sentences deter the armed criminal?




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This article is from the can.talk.guns FAQ, by Skeeter Abell-Smith ab133@sfn.saskatoon.sk.ca with numerous contributions by others.

28. Do mandatory jail sentences deter the armed criminal?

Over 70% of all convicted criminals in Canada are released early under
some form of community supervision[26]. In 1991, two-thirds of all
accused murderers had criminal records, 71% for previous violent
offenses[27]. A 1988 study revealed that between January 1, 1987 and
June 30, 1988, 124 people were arrested in the greater Montreal area for
armed robbery. Of that group, 65% were still under sentence for a
previous crime and 36% were either on full parole, day parole, temporary
absence, mandatory supervision, or probation. Of 133 persons arrested
for armed robbery in Toronto between January 1, 1986 and March 1, 1988,
50% were still under sentence and 92% had previous criminal
records[28]. It has been estimated that career convicted felons out of
prison commit an average of 187 crimes per year, costing society over
seventeen times their yearly cost of imprisonment. Surveys of
incarcerated violent offenders has revealed: The majority of substance
abusers with a long history of alcoholism and/or drug addiction. A
criminal can obtain a firearm illegally within 24 hours of their release
from jail. Theft from individual gun owners is exaggerated as a problem
in the illegal commerce in firearms as most are stolen from stores,
shippers, manufacturers, and even the police and the armed forces.
Criminals would rather encounter the police than an armed homeowner.
Criminals do not purchase their firearms from well-regulated sources
such as licensed gun dealers. Criminals prefer handguns as their primary
weapon and in their absence will "saw-off" shotguns or rifles to a
concealable length. Fear of a mandatory jail sentence is identified as
the principal deterrent to the criminal use of a firearm[29].

[26] Statistics Canada, "1992 Yearbook", (Statistics Canada,1991),
p.255-257
[27] Juristat Service Bulletin Vol.12 No.18, op.cit., p.15.
[28] D. Owen Carrigan, "Crime and Punishment in Canada: A History",
(McClelland and Steward, Inc., 1991) p.396
[29] James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi, "The Armed Criminal in
America: A Survey of Incarcerated Felons", (US Department of
Justice, National Institute of Justice, 1985); and, James D. Wright
and Peter H. Rossi, "Armed and Considered Dangerous, (NY: Aldin
de Gruyler, 1986)

 

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