The 2007 National Justice Survey: Tackling Crime and Public Confidence

5. Conclusion

The goals of the 2007 National Justice Survey were to develop an understanding of public confidence in the criminal justice system, to solicit public attitudes towards major criminal justice policies and to identify the factors that are related to public confidence in the criminal justice system. Confidence in the criminal justice system is generally low compared to other public systems, such as health and education. The central concern appears to be around sentencing practices and the need for reparation, accountability and ultimately rehabilitation to prevent future criminal behaviour.

A large segment of Canadians also believe that criminal justice policies should be proportional to the seriousness of the crime. In other words, proportionality, which is the fundamental principle of sentencing in Canada, is highly supported.

Some of the strongest predictors of confidence in the criminal justice system appear to be amenable to influence. For example, increasing public trust in the accuracy of official justice system statistics (e.g., parole granting rates, crime rates) may result in an increase in public confidence. Moreover, focusing sentencing reform not only on the quantum of the sentence, but also on the nature of the sentence, may result in increases in confidence.

Finally, as with any research project, the 2007 NJS has identified a number of future research questions. Why do Canadians generally have a lack of trust in the accuracy of official criminal justice statistics? How do Canadians perceive the concepts of reparation, accountability and rehabilitation in terms of their harshness? And is it possible to increase public confidence by addressing these two specific issues?

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