What we spend and what we get: Public and private provision of crime prevention and criminal justice

Fiscal Studies (Impact Factor: 0.49). 02/2001; 22(1):1-40. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5890.2001.tb00033.x
Source: RePEc

ABSTRACT In this paper, we consider a number of issues regarding crime prevention and criminal justice. We begin by considering how crime is measured and present both general and specific evidence on the level of crime in a variety of countries. Crime is pervasive and varies substantially across countries. We outline the arguments for some public role in crime prevention, enforcement, prosecution, defence, adjudication and punishment. We consider the relative roles of the public and private sectors in crime control and criminal justice. We discuss various measures for the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. We conclude by suggesting some potential areas for research.

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    ABSTRACT: Using a new panel dataset of the Brazilian States, it was estimated, by means of econometric models, the effect of social expenditure on enforcement and welfare on criminality during the period of 2001 to 2003. In contrast to past works developed in Brazil, which used basically data on murder, four kinds of offenses are analyzed: murder, robbery, larceny and kidnapping. Based on the economic theory of crime, we have evaluated the direction and the size of the effect of public spending, in addition to social factors, on the criminal behavior in the Brazilian States. Our results, using fixed effects and first differences to take unobserved effects into account, pointed out income inequality as an important factor to explain criminal behavior. Aiming to control simultaneity between spending on public safety and crime, it was still used instrumental variables, examining if there is a deterrence effect from law enforcement. It was observed that, even when the endogeneity issue is taken into account, there seems not to be a consistent deterrence effect of public spending on safety on crime in Brazil. In most estimates, public spending on welfare displayed a negative and robust effect on criminality, suggesting that this kind of expenditure is an important factor to reduce crime.
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    ABSTRACT: During the Great Depression contemporaries worried that people hit by hard times would resort to crime. President Franklin Roosevelt argued that the massive government relief efforts “struck at the roots of crime” by providing subsistence income to needy families. After constructing a panel data set for 81 large American cities for the years 1930–40, we estimate the effect of relief spending by all levels of government on crime rates. The analysis suggests that a 10 percent increase in relief spending during the 1930s reduced property crime by roughly 1.5 percent. By limiting the amount of relief recipients’ free time, work relief may have been more effective than direct relief in reducing crime. More generally, our results indicate that social insurance, which tends to be understudied in economic analyses of crime, should be more explicitly and more carefully incorporated into the analysis of temporal and spatial variations in criminal activity.
    The Journal of Law and Economics 01/2010; · 0.89 Impact Factor

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May 16, 2014