Kenneth Hatt: What is a Crime?

Kenneth Hatt, University of Victoria

In March 2003, the Law Commission of Canada released What is a Crime? Challenges and Alternatives, a discussion paper that explores why certain behaviour is defined as "unwanted" or "criminal", as well as the implications of choosing one or more intervention strategies to deal with various behaviour. In the document, the Commission recognizes that the ways in which behaviours are understood and defined will affect whether or not they are deemed to be unwanted, and wehther one or more intervention strategies will be used to deal with them. Why is some behaviour considered unwanted? Why do we consider that some behaviour warrnts the label of "crime"? Why do we use criminal law to respond to some types of behaviour and not others? This presentation will critically examine these and other questions that are raised in What is a Crime? Challenges and Alternatibes, as well as more general issues relating to the nature of crime and its control in contemporary society.

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Updated 05/20/2006