The contemporary society experiences a huge burden that is linked to crime and violence alongside the negative consequences on the quality of life that people live. There are several impacts of crime such as reduced lifespan, intense fear of insecurity and lack of social comfort as well as reduced working hours due to less time that is spent on the streets.
The rising crime rate is a global challenge that can only be tackled with a vibrant criminal justice system in place. One of the devastating effects of crime that has been associated with violence is that it brings about social waste which emanates from the loss of value of goods as well as the destruction of assets and the fabric of social worth and dignity.
Significant wastage also results from the expenses incurred in the course of crime prevention alongside other costs that are linked to the correctional and rehabilitation centers for offenders. In addition, the criminal justice process is also a costly affair that consumes a significant portion of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Furthermore, crime brings about myriad of other negative impacts which may not be monetary but have the potential of precipitating a reduction in productivity and also thwarting the planning horizon on various investment projects, disruption of human capital which is usually the main victim of social crime, not to forget the physical capital which may equally be short-changed though in an indirect manner.
This paper offers a succinct exploration of some of the terse measures that should be put in place to curb the rising crime rate crime as well critically discussing the role played by the criminal justice system. The essay argues that the conventional measures taken against crime control in the society may have been surpassed by time and aggravated by the numerous loopholes in the criminal justice system. Behavioral correction and rehabilitation of offenders should be given top priority in alleviating crime rate.
Measuring the level at which crime becomes toxic or unbearable is pretty hard. Although the empirical measurement may be obtained, it is definitely a daunting task. It may demand significant time and monetary resources to gather and analyze data over a relatively long period of time.
It is also vital to take into account several dimensions and approaches of fighting crime even though there is no common framework that can handle the challenge posed by crime in our society today. The direct costs and expenditures which are associated with criminal justice process and the prevention of crime escalation has been identified as adding up to a significant portion in all the regions of the world.
Crime rate has been increasing by double-digit rate in each single year in most parts of the world with some regions doubling others in terms of crime rate. As a precautionary measure, community policing is one of the strategies that has been adopted by most government agencies charged with the duty of maintain peace and order. Nonetheless, this approach to crime reduction has seemingly achieved minimal success.
Bourguignon, F., (1999). Crime, violence, and inequitable development. In: Boris Pleskovic and Joseph Stiglitz (editors). Annual World Bank Conference on Development Economics 1999/2000, Washington DC, World Bank, 2000, 199-220
According to Bourguignon (1999), the costs associated with crime constitutes an estimated 2.1 percent of the GDP in the United States of America while in Latin America, the fraction is 3.6 percent of the total GDP. The author further points out that crime costs that are directly attached to monetary spending are put into consideration, the costs are even higher in United States, skyrocketing to 2.6 percent and up to 5.1 percent in Latin America.
However, the raging debate on this issue is on the actual osty of crime as computed in the aforementioned figures. There are those who argue that in actual sense, the said crime costs are merely normal social costs which ought to be incurred by the government of the day. On the other hand, there are those who hold the view that this is merely resource transfer within the society.
Glaeser, E., L. (1999). An Overview of Crime and Punishment, Hague:The World Bank.
Glaeser (1999) presents an argument that since in general terms, there is less valuing of commodities by criminals as compared to the valuing that is carried out by the people in the society who lose those commodities, following this, there must consideration of this as a social loss. By fact, and disregarding these arguments, this value is supposed to be equal to the opportunity cost of the time of the criminal.
So to speak, this is the time spent on dealing with crime rather than the time consumed on the legal process or justice system. It is in line with the welfare loss. In addition to loss that is linked to material, among the significant direct crime consequences is the rise in injury as well as the death rates.
In the recent times, there has been development of the mechanisms that make it possible to estimate the social cost that come from lowering the level of life expectancy. This has vividly indicated that it can be of great significance in quantitative terms. In considering violence, it has been demonstrated that it represents a significant level of welfare loss which is the same in regard to the magnitude and order of the crime material costs which is usually direct.
Soares, R., R. (2006). The Welfare Cost of Violence across Countries. Journal of Health Economics, 25(5): 821-846
Soares (2006) carries out estimation on the basis of the willingness to pay approach; that the loss of one year in terms of life expectancy to violence is linked with the annual social cost on average that stands at 3.8 percent on the domestic gross product of United States of America alone. This estimation does not include the injury costs as well as the reduced health.
Injury and reduced health costs do not have the estimates that can be trustworthy which are based on economics. The crime costs that are non-monetary along with the age profile that is specific may as well bring about economic consequences of indirect nature.
These effects result from the changes that occur in the way people behave and which are brought about by the reduced length of productive life. It may include reduced level of investment in the human health and capital, a reduction in the level of investment in the physical capital and thus, in general terms, a reduction in growth in the long term.
Lorentzen, P.,McMillan J., Wacziarg R. (2005). Death and Development London: Stanford University Press
The life horizons that are shorter bring down the level of incentives for people to engage in taking action that can lead to benefits that are long term and the costs which are short term which can also include carrying out investment in education and people saving for the time to come.
According to Lorentzen, McMillan and Wacziarg (2006), among the main channels that connect growth and mortality is fertility. A positive relation does exist between fertility and mortality. Among nations with high prevalence of HIV/AIDS for instance, parents have approximately, in average terms, at least two children in comparison with those nations where the prevalence rate is relatively low
Londono, J., L., & Guerrero R. (1999). Violencia en América Latina – Epidemiología y Costos. Inter-American Development Bank, Documento de Trabajo R-375.
Furthermore, there exist intangible costs in the labor market as well as the negative consequences on the business environment. Londono and Guerrero (1999) point out in line with crime in Latin America that “intangible costs of crime-deterioration of productivity, consumption, and labor force – constitute the major part of the Latin American’s estimated cost of violence, corresponding to 7.1 percent of the region’s GDP.” (p. 2).
However, these figures are not very clear and it is cumbersome to carry out the estimation in a manner that may be convincing. Yet, it is of great importance to carry out the highlighting of the implications of crime on the stability of institutions as well as the business environment and especially in the case where there is a substantial existence of organized crime.
Crime prevention and the criminal justice system
Arguments are presented by Gaviria and Velez (2002) that crime has a bad effect on the efficiency of the economy, bringing down the level of employment as well as investment in the poor communities of urban Colombia. In considering the report issued by the World Bank (2006), 52 percent of the managers in Brazil consider crime as a great constraint to business.
The negative effects of crime are thus of many dimensions and the scope of the costs that are associated with it are dependent on what is put in to account. Whatever the case, the costs that are directly or indirectly linked to crime represent a substantial portion of the overall production in terms of GDP.
In relation to crime incidents that are attached to drugs, research indicates that the market for the illegal drugs is partially concentrated in certain metropolitan regions (Rengert et al., 2000). Very minimal concurrence does exist that attempts to explain give why these areas turn out to be drug trading hot spots.
Robinson (2003) gave an indication that the determination of the drug dealing markets is carried out by the social status of the immediate environment and also by the level of economic wellbeing. Presumably, there are three broad categories of measures that need to be taken in order to curb the rising crime rate.
For a long period now, the detection of crime hot spot has not been embraced in most countries especially those located in the third world. The second category of measure that is worth considering is community policing. Thus has been a point of focus in crime prevention among nay countries.
In reiterating the importance of identifying the crime hot spot zones, it is crucial for such zones to be avoided at all costs. According to Robinson and Rengert (2003), the neighborhoods that have recorded high crime rates should be closely monitored and thereafter clearly categorized as hot spot zone.
Unfortunately the categorization of such regions as hot spot per se has never worked magic in the bid to control crime rate owing to the fact that wrong or misplaced measures such as advising residents to avoid such areas are taken without much follow-up on cracking down the haven of criminals.
Besides, there exists very minimal public action that could be taken in regard to crimes in such areas because residents of most crime prone areas some times fail to fully cooperate with law enforcers in divulging any relevant information that may be of great help in curbing crime and insecurity.
In fact, the fear that has been instilled by the very criminals runs deep into veins of the victims, who are usually intimated to report individuals suspected to be criminals since they have been threatened not to do so lest they are beheaded. This is a common scenario in poor neighborhoods.
Such crime prone neighborhoods are supposed to be ‘written off’ by thorough screening of all on gong activities while the concentration of the police is supposed to be put on the “tipping point”. Hence, the third category of crime prevention strategy is developing a thorough action plan and crime alleviation program that encompasses all the major stakeholders in security, most important of whom is the general public.
The latte r is overly important when include din crime prevention since the very hardcore criminals reside within the public domain and thus the only way to stamp it out is by injecting the securiity machinery deeper into the society through the public. At this point, it is imperative to offer an incisive look at the role played by the criminal justice system in alleviating the devastating effects of crime.
As expected, the social justice system is largely mandated to deter mitigate against crime, execute social control practices that enhance peace as well as carrying out rehabilitation to offenders so that they can become social instruments of peace and security. Ideally, this should be the case. Nevertheless, there is a lot to be desired in the ever-increasing cost of crime in the society today. Is the criminal justice system not up to the task of ‘refining’ individuals who have been considered to be social misfits?
The Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice of the United States has been on the forefront in developing policy papers aimed at providing guiding principles on the best way to go in as afar the fight against crime is concerned. We need not belabor on the efforts this commission has put into the crime free society agenda (Robinson, 2003).
By all standards, we need to applaud its contribution towards the noble call of alleviating crime. There were over two hundred recommendations that were put forward by this commission sometimes back. Sincerely, it has taken quite a number of decades (from1969) when the radical recommendations to fight crime were launched.
Needless to say, the systems approach that was proposed by the commission to the country’s legal system did not work wonders judging from the sight of the flooding inmates behind bars. One of the vivid responsibilities of any criminal justice system is to bring offenders to book.
If this call is anything to go by, then the general public, in any set up, should be left with a feeling that the justice system in place is not only capable of delivering its primary duties but also able to deliver justice to citizens who obey the law. Most aptly, the criminal justice framework that has been adopted by Canada, it were to be put into practice, is the most correct way to go about crime prevention in society.
The country’s criminal justice system has divided a two-tier strategy in fighting crime. On one side of the crime prevention strategy are the objectives of crime control while the other side focuses on how to go about the protection of rights of individuals, whether innocent or convicted of crime. The system ensures that justice, in its true meaning, remains the center bolt of the entire process of crime prevention and reduction (Moran, Fleming &Salisbury, 2002).
Boosting the security of the public alongside reducing the rate of crime is the overarching role of the justice system in Sweden. When individual case studies of the criminal justice system are explored one by one, the roles seem to overlap or are similar altogether.
This implies that the rising crime rate throughout the world is as direct result of relaxed or outdated methods of crime prevention that do not match or are not compatible with modern forms of crime. As the society becomes complex socially, politically and economically, the level and complexity of crime perpetrated on each single day is also rising (Gaviria & Velez, 2002).
What about the courts? Do they too influence the process of criminal justice system as well as crime prevention? Realistically, the courts system are also an integral part of the criminal justice system since it is the formal venue location where conflicts related to crime are heard as well as the point at which relevant justice is delivered on either the plaintiff or defendant.
For a complete process of criminal justice, professionals in the field of law namely the defense attorney, prosecutor and the judge must be present. However, the justice process tat will eventually fight crime in the society will largely depend on how the aforementioned personalities discharge their individual roles.
Corruption and other acts such as bribery, ethnicity, racism and nepotism may significantly strangle the criminal justice system. The bribery index report in some countries like in the Third World is a clear indication why crime rates continue to rise. Generally, the police effectiveness can be realized if the latter finally manages to down the level of violent crimes.
There is need for the law enforcing agencies to be proactive and use viable and up to date strategies that are specific in nature and put more focus on the locations that are prone to criminal activities. Solutions that are tailor-made should also be set. This will utilize an analysis that is careful of the problems of the locality and the local conditions as well.
The crime intervention procedures that are proactive offer challenge to the reactive nature of the existing practices associated with enforcing of the law. By employing the analysis of crime to forecast crime level of a place, time and the way incidents come about, the effectiveness of the strategies put in place to prevent crime increases to a very significant level.
In general terms, the police effectiveness can be realized among the police in bringing down the level of the violence crimes the moment they become proactive and use those strategies that are specific in nature instead of using the strategies that are general and put much focus on the locations that are smaller and set up the solutions that are tailor-made which utilize an analysis that is careful of the problems of the locality and the local conditions as well.
The interventions that are proactive offer challenge to the reactive nature of the existing practices associated to enforcing of the law. By employing the analysis of crime to forecast the place, time and the way incidents come about, the effectiveness of the strategies put in place to prevent crime increases to a very significant level.
Those approaches that are reactive and based on arrest which put focus on people at the time they have already engaged in the criminal activities, are in general terms ineffective and they are likely to bring up the level of recidivism. Those interventions that focused and specific in nature are the strategies which put much focus specific kinds of criminal activities or focus on specific factors that contribute to people engaging in criminal activities as opposed to those strategies that are general.
More so, focusing on a small fraction of the locations in a particular city in which there are widespread cases of violent crimes, in most cases about 1/20 of the whole jurisdiction, have a high likelihood to bring down the level of the general rate of the violent crimes in that particular city. A tool that is even much more powerful is carrying out the combination of the targeting of these geographic regions that are small together with the interventions that are much focused, tailor-made and multi-agency.
One of the best examples an approach that problem oriented which is employed to bring down the level of crime at the hot spots where violent crimes occur which encompasses gang activity. In summing up, it is vital to emphasize that approaches which are reactive and based on arresting suspected criminals and which also lay more emphasis on individuals at the time they have already engaged in crime, are simply ineffective and are likely to be counterproductive in combating crime as well as improving the criminal justice system.
Bourguignon, F., (1999). Crime, violence, and inequitable development. In: Boris Pleskovic and Joseph Stiglitz (editors). Annual World Bank Conference on Development Economics 1999/2000, Washington DC, World Bank, 2000, 199-220.
Gaviria, A., and Velez E., C. (2002). Who bears the burden of crime and violence in Colombia? In: World Bank. Colombia Poverty Report. Volume 2, Chapter 4, World Bank, Washington DC, p.146-61.
Glaeser, E., L. (1999). An Overview of Crime and Punishment. Hague: The World Bank.
Londono, J., L. & Guerrero, R. (1999). Violencia en América Latina – Epidemiología y Costos. Inter-American Development Bank, Documento de Trabajo R-375.
Lorentzen, P., McMillan, J. & Wacziarg R. (2005). Death and Development, London: Stanford University Press.
Moran, R. L., Fleming S. & Salisbury, T. (2002). Antidrug Sweep Begins in Phila. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Thursday, May 2, pp. B1 and B3
Rengert, G., F. et al. (2000). Analysis of Illegal Drug Markets. In Mangai Natarajan and Hough (eds.) Illegal Drug Markets: From Research to Prevention Policy. Monsey, New York: Criminal Justice Press.
Robinson, J. & Rengert, G.F. (2006). Illegal drug markets: The geographic perspective and crime propensity. Western Criminology Review, 7(1): 20 – 32.
Robinson, J. (2003). The Drug Free Zones, the Police, Locations, and Trends in Drug Sales in Portland, Oregon, 1990-1998. Dissertation submitted to Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.
Samaha, J. (2005). Criminal justice, Belmont: Thomson Wordsworth
Soares, R., R. (2006). The Welfare Cost of Violence across Countries. Journal of Health Economics, 25(5): 821-846.
World Bank (2006). Crime, Violence and Economic Development in Brazil: Elements for Effective Public Policy. Report n. 36525, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Sector Unit, Latin America and the Caribbean Region.