Shake your heads crazy people, this isn’t television drama

Lock ‘em up and throw away the key.

It’s got to be one of the most go-to cliches used on social media, when referring to crime in the community, and criminals.

Now that’s some serious, wild west, six-gun slinging tough talk.

From someone sitting at a keyboard sipping on a Budweiser.

Specifically on Princeton Facebook groups this phrase gets thrown around like rice at a wedding every time the newspaper reports someone has been collared in relation to a theft, break and enter, or similar offense, and then released.

Property crimes are hurtful, make no mistake. Someone who has experienced a break in, or theft from his or her home – in addition to any financial loss – is liable to feel violated, and afraid, and mistrustful.

Generally what happens when an arrest is made in these cases, the suspect – yes that person is only a suspect – is let go on a promise to appear in court and then the millstones of justice begin to slowly grind.

And there is outrage. Why is this person back on the streets?!

Shake your heads crazy people. We don’t live in a television drama series or a communist regime or under a dictatorship.

A person is assumed innocent until proven guilty. Unless that individual is considered to be dangerous and the alleged actions are serious (lawn mower thieves are not necessarily dangerous and stealing landscaping equipment is not serious if you put it on a spectrum) they are released back into the community.

What follows is much uniformed trash talk on police and judges and lawyers who work within a system that is imperfect to be sure – but it’s what we have. Comparatively speaking and considering the rest of the planet, it’s still pretty darned good.

Social media posters who incite vigilantism, gun violence and nighttime posses cruising the streets of our town with baseball bats are far scarier than anyone who breaks your window, or creeps into your backyard looking for something he or she can lift and later sell.

Some related thoughts.

The names of individuals who are arrested in connection with any crime are not made public until charges have been sworn. That’s why they are not immediately reported by your local newspaper.

Also, police do not charge offenders, they recommend charges to the Crown.

B.C. has one of the country’s highest bars for determining prosecution. The benchmark is “a substantial likelihood of conviction” and whether “prosecution [is] required in the public interest.”

Finally, there is a cost to “locking ‘em up and throwing away the key.” Corrections services in this country cost $4.6 billion a year (latest stats available, 2013/2014). That amounts to $130 for each person in the Canadian population. The cost of incarcerating a federal offender is $289 per day, and about $196 per day for provincial offenders.

Think about that – the next time you want to get on Facebook and complain about how your tax dollars are being wasted.

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