The reasons for crimes are complex. There are those who believe that crime is caused by poverty, drug abuse, low self-esteem, and parental neglect while other people believe that some people become criminals because of the circumstances in which they find themselves. Individualists believe that individuals are rational and can choose to commit crimes and that by imposing harsh punishments such people can desist from criminal behaviors. On the contrary, collectivists fathom that crime is caused by social conditions such as inadequate housing and unemployment opportunities. Hence, if such social factors are tackled then a crime is likely to decline. However, in the article Hard Times Fewer Crimes, the author just like most criminologists find it unusual for there to be a reduction of crime in the face of difficult economic times. His explanations include more incarceration rate, better policing and patrolling tactics, better home security and less abuse of drugs. Therefore, it is imperative to deduce that the economic theory of crime is ineffective during recessions.
One must understand that a single reason cannot explain why violent crimes reduced during the great recession but only by applying various factors. The author is right to deduce that more incarceration contributed to low violent crimes. It must be noted that mass incarceration too was responsible for the decreasing of crime by about 20% since 1970. It was effective because dangerous offenders whom each would commit more than 50 crimes, a year were behind bars. By locking traditional criminals for long, violent crimes were bound to reduce. Broken window theory used by the author also explains why violent crimes reduced. When states adopted robust policing methods to punish aggressively offenders for small crimes like vandalism and drug peddling, the cost of offense became high thus people avoided committing them. Also, by increasing police patrols in hotspots, kept criminals at bay and it reduced drug peddling in the urban streets hence, reducing the likely hood of a violent crime to be committed. However, Wilson is wrong to state that family ties played a role in reducing the crime rate. He has not considered that family ties are less affected by the economy, but it is cultivated when there is a strong bond between the offenders parents at their young ages for instance when parents are not separated. Therefore, social welfares that improve family relationships helps in reducing juvenile crimes but cannot be used to explain the reason to a reduction in violent crimes during the great recession.
Cost of the Crime
I firmly believe that decline in macroeconomic conditions caused by the 2008 recession only led to a rise in property crimes instead of violent crimes. During that period, the unemployment rate increased to 25%. Hence, it reduced the opportunity costs of crime for the unemployed population. On the other hand, it increased the marginal benefits of crime as they seek ways to fend for themselves. However, since violent crimes like rape and murder do not amount to a source of income, the unemployed population were unlikely to resort to cruel crimes. Therefore, the unemployed population opted for property crimes since they needed illegal means to earn a living. Though the cases of property crime increased, it was statistically insignificant. Hence, it is proof that economic indicators have little effect on crime rate. Also, it became apparent that individuals judgments about the cost of crimes do not change with economic conditions. Thus, with the government raising the punishment levels for the lesser crime, the cost of committing these offenses was increased prompting individuals to desist from committing them. It is evidenced by the 5.5% reduction in violent crimes and 2.8% decrease in property crimes.
Broken Window Policing
Another theory that I believe led to the decline of offenses during such period was the effect of broken window policing. By changing policing tactics, the police presence ensured that criminal activities were prevented. For instance, in cities like Shawnee, the police spent more time in crime hotspots resulting in a 60% decline in offenses in those areas. Hence, with the effectiveness of such policy, its method of adoption can go beyond arresting criminals but also, reducing opportunities for crimes. Therefore, policy makers must ensure that there are enough police officers to operate within hot spots. Also, in future adequate resources should be available to encourage efficiency of such operations. It is evidenced that states that have committed more resources to policing experience decreased the crime rate.
Finally, lengthy incarceration of dangerous offenders also played a significant role. It kept over 7,000 offenders off the streets at a time when the environment conditions favored crime. Though it was effective, its long-term effect is believed to be damaging. Hence, it acted as a short-term measure. Besides, it has been proved that it is not a proper judicial method for preventing crimes. That is, by imprisoning more offenders for a longer period without giving them alternative lives from crimes does not stop them from repeating those crimes once they are released. Hence, increasing risks of arrest and incarceration are very effective judicial policies such as reducing child exposure to violence and proper rehabilitation methods than relying on longer incarceration policies.
In conclusion, the economic theory of crime cannot explain reasons for a reduction in crime during the great recession. On the contrary, it is the combination of factors such as window policing, increased the cost of the offense over its benefits and longer imprisonments that led to the decline of crime during that period. Moreover, based on the effectiveness of such theories, it is imperative that policy that includes proper broken policing, increased risk of arrest combined with appropriate rehabilitation methods will be effective in combating all forms of crimes in the future.
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