Essay on Across the Ocean: Crime in Switzerland compared to America

Submitted By daisymay0112
Words: 1465
Pages: 6

Criminal Justice 101
Across the Ocean
24 April 2013
Across the Ocean: Crime in Switzerland compared to America My eighth grade year of middle school I was sat down alongside my brother by a social worker who then proceeded by telling us how my mom had died so many years before. I was told that my dad was a drug dealer and had become addicted to his own supply. He had become increasingly violent and it led my mom to leave him. He didn’t take this well and one day when my brother and I were being babysat by my grandmother, he murdered my mom. Of course, I wasn’t ready for the details of everything but as time went on I began to learn more about what had happened. My dad received 62 years without parole but in Mexico. I wanted to know why and upon asking, I learned that it was because my dad was illegal and when he ran away he went back to Mexico. They attempted to catch him there and in the process two federal agents of the Mexican government were injured so my family had the decision to have him charged for the murder case in the US or in Mexico. The lead detective of the case advised them to have the trial take place in Mexico because in the US my dad would have the excuse that he was out of the proper state of mind due to drugs. Hearing this made me wonder why it was that the notion of justice and what would be deserved was different in one country than in another and it immediately sparked my attention to the criminal justice system. Ever since then I have always been interested in different aspects of this system (most notably criminology). Recently, the big debates of changes in policy have sparked my interest once more into the differences between countries particularly in the criminal justice system and the crime rates associated with them. It is common to hear on the news that one policy wouldn’t work in the US because it doesn’t work in a certain other country but then to hear on a different news station that it would work because it does work in another country. One of the topics that are probably the most popular is the amount of people currently incarcerated in the US and its disproportion to other countries rates. Yet, perhaps the most popular of all time is that of crime involving guns and the effects on the rates of these crimes with gun regulation. So in order to gain a better prospective, I have decided to take a look into two countries; the US, which is considered by many to be one of the most violent countries, and Switzerland, which is considered by many to be one of the most peaceful. The United States currently has around 2.2 million people incarcerated in its record number of 4,575 prisons according to Natasha Lennard at This means that approximately 730 people out of every 100,000 is serving time. This is a tremendous amount of people compared to the second place for amount of incarcerations which is St. Kitts and Nevis at about 649 out of every 100,000 (Lennard). Switzerland has 76 out of every 100,000 people incarcerated; less than the tiny country of Luxembourg has at 124 per 100,000. So how is it exactly that Switzerland manages to have such low incarceration rates. Well it quite obviously starts with the crime rates. There are about 308,000 crimes committed per year in Switzerland as opposed to 11,878,000 in America. And for the crimes committed, less people are likely to actually serve time in Switzerland as opposed to America (O'Dea). There is a prevailing view among Swiss experts that punishing criminals with long sentences isn’t any more likely to lessen chances of reoffending than a fine or electronic monitoring (O'Dea). It is common practice in Switzerland to not impose custodial sentences for first time offenders with the exception of a few extremely serious crimes. This allows for the amount of prisoners to lessen but it is a completely different topic to discuss whether it is functional or not. Many believe that the Swiss criminal justice system is too compassionate