April 24, 2007
A telling accounting of how criminal justice resources are allocated
As hinted in this post, I generally believe that the true interests/rights of crime victims ought to be given more formal emphasis in the operation of criminal justice systems. And, in reviewing some fascinating statistics the Justice Department has collected about crime victimization, I discovered these telling economic data that spotlight how few criminal justice resources are now devoted to victim compensation:
- In 2003, the United States (at federal, state, and local levels) spent a record $185 billion for police protection, corrections, and judicial and legal activities. Since 1982, expenditures for operating the criminal justice system increased 418 percent, not accounting for inflation.
- Victims of violent crime and their families received compensation benefits totaling $427 million in 2004.
- In 2004, medical expenses constituted 53 percent of all victim compensation payments; economic support for lost wages for injured victims and for lost support in homicides made up 19 percent of the total; 11 percent of total payments were for funeral bills; and 8 percent went toward mental health counseling for crime victims.
These numbers provide only an incomplete snapshot of how criminal justice resources are allocated. Still, they suggest that nearly $500 is spent on police protection, corrections, and judicial and legal activities for every $1 spent on helping to compensate the victims of violent crime. And most of the compensation money simply covers (surely inadequately) basic economic losses.
April 24, 2007 at 01:45 AM | Permalink
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A healthy does of skepticism is healthy when reading some government statistics. For example, the claim that 200,000 people are victims of human trafficking.
Executive Summary (PDF)
The U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report (2005) estimates that between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year. However, since the passing of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000, only about 600 people nationwide, including 14 people in Washington State, have been certified as victims of human trafficking. This report seeks to address the reasons for this discrepancy and propose ways in which more victims can be found.
What's more, a lot of it is rhetoric:
Running from the Rescuers: New U.S. Crusades Against Sex Trafficking and the Rhetoric of Abolition (paid, unfortunately)
This article analyzes recent developments in U.S. anti-sex trafficking rhetoric and practices. In particular, it traces how pre-9/11 abolitionist legal frameworks have been redeployed in the context of regime change from the Clinton to Bush administrations. In the current political context, combating the traffic in women has become a common denominator political issue, uniting people across the political and religious spectrum against a seemingly indisputable act of oppression and exploitation. However, this essay argues that feminists should be the first to interrogate and critique the premises underlying many claims about global sex trafficking, as well as recent U.S.-based efforts to rescue prostitutes. It places the current raid-and-rehabilitation method of curbing sex trafficking within the broader context of Bush administration and conservative religious approaches to dealing with gender and sexuality on the international scene. "[Sex trafficking] just jumped off the pages of the newspaper." --Richard Cizik, National Association of Evangelicals (quoted in Shapiro 2004)
No one, of course, is against treating victims with respect and dignity, but if the statistics are skewed, why? Also, it helps to know how the survey is conducted and if that may sway the results. For example, this note on Victimization Surveys.
Posted by: George | Apr 24, 2007 3:35:35 PM