Crime: The Grossest National Product

We Americans pay through the nose for crime.  We pay physically, emotionally, psychologically — and financially. We pay as individuals and we pay as communities.  PERF in the most recent Subject to Debate estimated that our tab for firearm crimes is $58 billion.  In an earlier post, Corridor Conversations cited Department of Justice stats that suggest we lost $39 billion to property crimes in 2010.  That’s a combination of $97 billion that we lose and shell out for crime. These figures are only some of the financial costs of the overall crime picture.  They also don’t begin to approach the inestimable opportunity costs of crime, that is, all things we might have done with the resources — the people, the time and the dollars — that we poured into crime and the management of crime.  In the end, no one is satisfied with what we are getting for outcomes.

We have come to accept this situation in many ways.  We see crime as simply part of the ecology of our communities.  But re-read what Jens Ludwig and Philip Cook have to say and think about how we might change these economics at the local level.  How can we leverage our resources to help change the choices people make?  I believe we have lots of ideas on this question.   Re-read the post on what Paul Evans taught us about ownership and accountability.  We can uncover most important ideas by asking line cops and community folks for their ideas.  Then we change he economics one street at a time.

PERF’s stats

The Costs of Gun Violence: $57.9 Billion

These estimates include:

– Victim Costs (lost productivity; medical care; social services; property loss; and a “quality of life” estimate)

– Criminal Justice Costs (Costs per offender of each stage of the process, including police costs, prosecutor costs, court costs, and costs of prison, jail, and probation and parole agencies)
– Offender Costs (medical care, costs borne by offenders’ families, and loss of any legitimate earnings of offenders prior to incarceration)

Costs of Firearm Crime in 2010
$43,875,000,000
Gun Homicides
8,775 incidents x $5 million per incident
$6,439,650,000
Armed Robberies
128,793 incidents x $50,000 per incident
$7,612,165,000
Aggravated Assaults
138,403 incidents x $55,000 per incident

$57,926,815,000 TOTAL

p. 4 Subject to Debate May/June 2012

Sources: Paul Heaton. Hidden in Plain Sight: What Cost-of-Crime Research Can Tell Us About Investing in Police. RAND Corporation, 2010. Available at http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/OP279.html. Costs of firearm crime in 2010 data from UCR, cost estimates from Cohen and Piquero.

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About stephenomeara

My name is Jim Jordan. I have had the privilege of working with the Boston Police Department and hundreds more departments over my nearly 30-year career in police administration and city government. I am now teaching and consulting independently at www.sergeantsleadership.org. I have learned the best of what I know from the thousands of smart, dedicated and ethical police personnel and scholars who have guided me along the way. My address is named for the great Reform commissioner of the Boston Police at the turn of the 20th century. Commissioner O'Meara died just a short while before the Strike in 1919. He was replaced by a vicious puppet (of Gov. Coolidge) named Edwin U. Curtis. Had O'Meara lived events may have turned out quite differently.
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