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February 3, 2011

"The Economist’s Guide to Crime Busting"

WQWinter11_1_l The title of this post comes from the title of this article appearing in the Winter 2011 issue of The Wilson Quarterly.  The issue has a series of article on mass incarceration with this lead-in: "Seven million Americans are in prison or on probation or parole. Crime is down, but state prison budgets have ballooned. A new war on crime must focus on reducing repeat offenses by ex-inmates and steering more young people away from crime."  

The folks at The Crime Report have made the article linked above available via this post where they summarize the article's three chief innovative ideas: " raise the minimum age at which adolescents can legally leave school, encourage more 'business improvement districts,' and increase taxes on alcoholic beverages." And here is the piece's closing paragraph:

These and similar ideas represent a new frontier in thinking about crime. Whatever one thought of the old formula of putting more and more people behind bars, it is simply no longer affordable.  Likewise, the old debate between hard and soft approaches to crime has been exhausted.  The line between those false extremes is being blurred by new approaches that recognize that we can deter crime by improving peoples’ life chances, and that coercion can in some cases be a key element of such efforts, as with compulsory schooling laws.  As in medicine, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We must learn to think of programs as various as preschool education and drug treatment as elements of our crime-fighting strategy.  America’s next war on crime must look at the full spectrum of solutions and pay special attention to giving those people who are most likely to turn to crime the skills and incentives to make a better choice.

February 3, 2011 at 07:01 PM | Permalink


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If the typical violent criminal commits 100 acts a year, and one would be willing to pay $10,000 to avoid the beating, carjacking, murder, rape, etc., then the cost of a single criminal to victims is $1,000,000. Say, it costs $50,000 to imprison the criminal, that is a return of 2000% year over year, guaranteed, with no loss of capital. Say, the criminal is busy from age 15 to 55, then the cost is a total $40 million in damage. That is direct cost. If a body is found on a block, what is the discount required to get buyers to buy a house there. Say, it is 40% drop in real estate prices for 10 blocks in every direction or 100 square blocks. Then the true cost is in the $billions, per criminal. Say, 1% of every birth cohort will become a violent criminal, the real cost is in the $trillions.

These biased writers, any of them calculate costs of keeping the criminal alive past the 14 th birthday?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 3, 2011 11:29:23 PM

As usual S.C., you conflate all crime into the small sub-category of violent crime. Odd that you do so when you constantly wish to be regarded as reflecting the entire picture. Most crime isn't violent - most is of economic or controlled substance offense origin. However, the facts won't count in this disscussion as you have no room for them in the ..."philosophy" you propound.
I do wish to know why you have chosen 14 years of age. Why not use the "finest eugenic theories" and just remove them pre-birth?

Posted by: Tim Rudisill | Feb 4, 2011 8:16:42 AM

“There are only two possibilities here. Either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States, or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice.”
Senator Jim Webb

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Feb 4, 2011 12:22:10 PM

There are 23 million FBI Index felonies a year. Four of the 8 crimes on the list are considered violent. There are 5 million violent crimes a year. At $10,000 direct cost, that is about $50,000,000,000, around $50 billion. If you add $100,000 in indirect costs, such as a hit to the value of homes in the area, the cost is about another $500 billion a year. In some ways, the health costs of injuries may exceed the value of the crime itself. Then there are the loss of income, the costs of the criminal law.

Yes to find a prenatal test for antisocial personality disorder, especially of a violent nature, and to abort all of them would be worth hundreds of billions a year of added value to our economy. We know most of the violent criminals at age 3. I just find ages earlier than the onset of real adulthood to be unpalatable to the public, to start 123D counting. Fourteen is the real age of adulthood, and was the official age for 10,000 years, before the union lawyers falsely moved it to 18, when nothing special happens in nature.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 4, 2011 2:27:13 PM

Claudio: Jim Webb is considered to be mentally ill, from his combat experiences perhaps. He cannot control his temper, nor any other emotion. He is not Italian, but in personality perhaps.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 4, 2011 2:29:35 PM

Suppie, I am VERY sorry for you

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Feb 4, 2011 2:37:21 PM

Claudio: What about Italy's active, lively death penalty practice, that applied to brave investigative judges and prosecutors, their families? Your government to which you belong cannot keep its dedicated, loyal officials alive.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 4, 2011 9:38:23 PM

Dear S.C., You have me wondering now.... Perhaps those who only see violent solutions to their and the worlds problems should be eliminated. Perhaps so. Of course with your constant relation of violent means and the use of or threatened use of violence to resolve the C.J. problems (as well as other,i.e., 'Lawyers", et al.) it does make me wonder.
By the way, a great number of 'violent crimes' aren't - as you well know. The courts do love to find a way, and Prosecutors are happy to assist, to denominate as "violent" everyone they can. There aren't any "criminals" as a genetic state - only people. As to violence - it is a facet of human nature, in all of us and is ineradicable. We, human beings, are the "best" users of violence the planet has ever produced.
I extend to you my deepest sympathies for your plight and whatever it may have been that twisted you in this way - hope you recover soon and completely. However, I cannot believe you actually mean all that you say here.

Posted by: Tim Rudisill | Feb 5, 2011 6:07:28 AM

Tim: The 5 million violent crimes are derived by household survey. Judge for yourself. There are only 2 million prosecutions a year, so 90% of the 23 million crimes go unanswered by the lawyer. They have granted the serious criminal, 90% immunity for these 8 serious crimes.



"Of those eight offenses, criminal homicide, forcible rape, aggravated assault and robbery are classified by the UCR as violent crimes. Burglary, larceny-theft, arson and motor vehicle theft is classified as property crimes." This is traditional stuff, without much controversy nor any kind of gotcha.

Since you have brought up personal matters, we should look in the mirror. Those who advocate even more immunity and coddling of the criminal are condemning unseen but very real crime victims. Why? These victims are concentrated among dark skinned people, and therefore not much like the advocates. I am going to assume you are lilly white, worked for government or in a legal job, and derived your income from preserving and increasing the number of criminals. Your advocacy has or had an economic conflict of interest, and therefore may be characterized as being in bad faith. I on the other hand am arguing massively against my economic self-interest and may be more trusted. Personal remarks usually mark a giving up in the debate, like knocking over your king in a hopeless chess game. Victims generate nothing economic for white government dependent workers, and may rot.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 5, 2011 7:35:39 AM

In protecting criminals, one condemns millions of people to the direct and indirect effects of violence, including children in proximity to the favored, immunized criminal. In formal logic, the obverse of a true proposition is also true. If we accept that torts are a good substitute for violence, then immunity justifies violence. Don't blame me, blame formal logic, and the self-dealing, self-immunizing lawyer.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 5, 2011 7:41:25 AM

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