A number is never just a number: Crime, punishment and politics

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Percentage drop in Canada's crime severity index (a measure of the seriousness of crime) between 2001 and 2011. Canada's crime rate is the lowest point it's been since 1972. (Source)


Year Canada's crime rate peaked. Crime has since been dropping throughout Canada for most offences, including attempted murders, major assaults, sexual assaults, robberies, break-ins and motor vehicle thefts. (Source)


Number of homicides per 100,000 population in Canada. Despite annual fluctuations, the homicide rate in Canada has declined since peaking in the mid-1970s. (Source)


That's how many times higher the rate of homicides by handguns is in the U.S. compared to Canada. (Source)


Percentage decrease in homicides by long guns in Canada between 2010 and 1991, the year Canada introduced stricter gun laws. (Source)


Number of Canadian cities where the crime severity index declined in 2011. Only Moncton reported an increase in the crime rate, up 3 per cent over the previous year. (Source)


Percentage of Canadians who felt satisfied with their personal safety from crime in 2009 -- similar to 2004 (94 per cent). (Source)


Percentage of Canadians polled in a June 2012 Nanos survey who said cracking down on gun, drug and gang crime was most important among five priorities on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's website. Nearly 40 per cent chose strengthening Canada's economic union as the top priority. (Source)


Percentage of Canadian federal legislative bills in 2010 that were related to crime. (Source)


Percentage increase in the Correctional Service of Canada's budget expenditures since the Conservatives took office in 2005-06. (Source)


Percentage decrease of previous years' federal funding to Canadian youth justice programs to supervise and rehabilitate young offenders. Research shows community programs result in fewer youth re-offending. (Source, source and source)


Number of new prison spaces Canadian federal, provincial and territorial governments are in the process of creating -- with an infrastructure cost of $3.6 billion (and rising). (Source)


America's prison population rate (760 per 100,000 inhabitants) in 2009 -- the highest rate among OECD countries. Canada's rate (116 per 100,000 inhabitants) in 2009 was below the OECD average. (Source)


Percentage decline in Texas' crime rate between 2005-10. During that period, Texas chose to spend $300 million to beef up drug treatment programs, mental health centres, probation services and community supervision for prisoners out on parole rather than spend another $2 billion on new prisons. (Source)

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative's Trish Hennessy has long been a fan of Harper Magazine's one-page list of eye-popping statistics, Harper's Index. Instead of wishing for a Canadian version to magically appear, she's created her own index -- a monthly listing of numbers about Canada and its place in the world. Hennessy's Index -- A number is never just a number -- comes out at the beginning of each month.

Photo: Tigana/Flickr

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