Youth Voice Journal (YVJ) is an international, multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal that publishes theoretical contributions and empirical studies on international issues affecting young people. YVJ is published by IARS Publications, a member of COPE. YVJ is ranked and indexed by Scopus, ORCID, Kudos, Criminal Justice Abstracts, EBSCO Information Services and The European Reference Index for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (ERIH PLUS).
In this paper, the “tough on crime” ideology is analysed by evaluating statistical evidence and research on the effects of custodial sentences, and the associated costs. The aim is to provide an informative review of empirical evidence, and explore an alternative to the new Canadian Omnibus Crime Bill. Included in this paper is a discussion concerning the research data on offenders, and whether or not custodial sentences support the examined research. The findings have generally shown that both crime rates and crime severity have been on the decline in Canada. Furthermore, custodial sentences tend to escalate the recidivism on offenders, and rehabilitative treatment has shown to lower recidivism. In terms of young offenders, it is suggested that custodial sentences may cause more harm to the youth, and an increased risk of reoffending. Additionally, the “tough on crime” philosophy has been presented to be problematic, as presented by a case study in Texas, which, in recent years, has found more success in utilising funds in both diversion and treatment programmes instead of longer sentences and additional prisons.