Paying for crime

August 5, 2008

Because of a crime wave, among other reasons, Indianapolis residents panicked and threw out the incumbent mayor and elected political novice Greg Ballard. Now there’s been another month of violent crime, and Ballard  seems to be panicking. First, he announced a two-day employment fair for ex-offenders and named Colts Coach Tony Dungy to chair the city’s ex-offender re-entry efforts. Now, this:

City-County leaders are setting a side $5 million generated through “COIT” – County Option Income Taxes.

The money will pay for “Community Crime Prevention Grants.” Groups that help people avoid a life of crime can apply for the grants.

The idea is that stronger community groups, health programs, mentoring services, etc. can lead to fewer criminals.

So, if you live in Indy and are considering crossing the line, there will be support groups to hold your hand and convince you that a life of crime isn’t a good idea. But if you do cross the line, the city will be there for you, too, helping you get a job or, failing that, “come away knowing your felony does not define you” (Ballard’s words).

There’s nothing wrong with trying to fight crime by changing the criminals’ attitudes or behavior, though such plans don’t have a terrific track record. But when you start all these programs in response to a temporary spike in the numbers, it’s just throwing money away.

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3 Responses to “Paying for crime”

  1. Bob G. Says:

    It’s like I tend to say when it comes to the whole C.O.P. (community-oriented policing) program here in Fort Wayne…

    It works damn well…WHEN there is a viable, interested COMMUNITY willing to do what’s needed to deter crime, such as in Whipering Meadows.
    But the citizenry (there) are a far cry from those living down here.

    It’s when you have nothing that resembles a community in certain neighborhoods that programs such as these fall flat on their assets. And crime doesn’t take a holiday.

    My neighborhood is a case in point.
    No active “community” to speak of (just a bunch of strangers livng around one another), and certainly no one willing to DETER crime.
    Many tend to relish it, because they know they can get away with it, whether it’s open-air drug dealing, illegal gambling, prostituion, copper theft, burglary, or rape.

    Whether it’s out of fear or apathy, the COP program in Ft. Wayne doesn’t net the results in areas where crime prevention is needed most, yet it is working very well in nicer areas of the city.

    Perhaps it’s time to take a different tack on the issue in these problem areas (be it here or in Indy).
    And maybe take a closer look at who is your neighbor in these areas.

    B.G.
    (living the nightmare – screw the dram)

  2. Harl Delos Says:

    But when you start all these programs in response to a temporary spike in the numbers, it’s just throwing money away.

    Either the program is worth what it costs, or it’s not. The motivation in providing the money doesn’t affect that. I have a strong suspicion it’s wasting money – but it costs about $100K a year to imprison someone, and possibly more (how much does a murder cost?) to let him free after his sentence, so it wouldn’t take a very high success rate for the program to be beneficial to the community.

    There’s a tendency to think “there’s something wrong, we need to do something”, but systems engineers recognize that often, doing nothing is optimal.

    High crude oil prices cause high gas prices? Well, high demand will encourage oil companies to reopen marginal wells. High gasoline prices will reduce demand. More supply and less demand makes gas prices go down again.

  3. Indyguy Says:

    This is *NOT* a new program. The former Mayor talked about this but all he paid was lip service. This is part of a two-prong strategy to dealing with the crime problem.

    The city is stepping up enforcement and cracking down on drug dealers, which is partly responsible for the increase in homicides as drug dealers move from one turf to another and shoot it out for market share.

    There are 5,000 offenders released into Marion County each year with a 70-percent recidivism rate. Also these offenders are not competing for jobs with non-offenders, unless the non-offender wants to sweep floors and serve hamburgers.


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