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The Cost That Goes Unmentioned

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We hear relentless reports that imprisonment costs too much.  What we seldom if ever hear is an account of what crime costs.  I guess the idea is that, if the defense bar and its allies can focus public attention on the dollars needed to keep the bad guys locked up, the public will forget about what the bad guys do when they're not locked up.

What they do, of course, is continue on their merry criminal way, resulting in costs that dwarf the costs of incarceration  --  and this is not to mention the human suffering and the loss of a sense of security that befall their thousands of victims.  

But the costs of crime don't disappear simply because the defense bar would like to keep quiet about them.  In this Slate piece, we get more detail on the story.

Hat tip to "notablogger." 

3 Comments

Although the Slate piece uses a speculative methodology that may overstate the case, Bill is right to shed more light on the true costs of crime. The direct costs of crime are obvious to all but the indirect costs are just as important. Moreover, self-report surveys of inmates confirm that criminals commit scores of crimes a year when free in the community.

When one considers the entire spectrum of crime costs, incapacitation of a resolute criminal is a net gain for society.

mjs --

The interesting thing about the article is that, no matter what methodology gets used, the cost of crime turns out to be staggering, and that's just in dollar terms. Despite this, all we hear about now is the cost of incarceration. If the press were as interested in an informed public debate as it claims to be, we would see a side-by-side comparison. Oddly, we never do. Indeed, it's harder to find a public discussion of the costs of crime than it is to find an NPR program about the menace of jihadism.

The thing that really struck me in the Slate piece was the study (the one that found that early release programs are cost-effective) that placed a dollar value of $300 on a rape committed by a recidivist. 300 bucks? Are you kidding me? Obviously, they didn't ask any rape victims what value they would have given not to be raped, as I suspect it would be just a tad more than 300 bucks. What a crock.

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