Good Essay About Are Imprisoning Drugs Offenders Reducing The Crime Rate?
The United States happens to be the country with the highest rate of incarceration where the number of people who are in the jail is greater than in any other country in the world. The country’s prison population has quadrupled over the course of three decades and most of the people are of the view that the increase can be attributed to the war on drugs that the country seems to be engaged in. Since the country’s prison population seems to be escalating with shocking velocity, people are interested to know whether this tactic is having any effects on the crime rate.
The answer to that inquiry is not very reassuring because where the prison population has been increasing; there has also in conformity been upshot in the availability of crack cocaine. There is also the matter of reverse relationship between the two dynamics. Maybe the reason for the monstrous increase in incarceration was increase in the rate of crime? Also, since so many are walking out of prison on regular basis, the policy can only have effect if these people are rehabilitated properly into the society and what is the state doing to facilitate their integration into the society?
So to answer the question, imprisoning the drug offenders has had not very heartening impacts on the crime rates rather the strategy has been causing for the great inconvenience and yet even greater cost.
Whether successful or not, some studies have nevertheless been trying to draw positive links between the two variables. One of these studies was brought forth by the Journal of public economics according to which, the number of prisoners that were involved in drug-related crimes had increased fifteen-fold between the years 1980 and 2000.
The journal compares the increase in number to prisoners to the price of cocaine which is 5-15 percent higher today than it was in the year 1985. The study then draws a link between the increases and consequently, decreases in the demand for Cocaine hence an increased price.
The problem with this theory, however, is the many loopholes that surround it. Firstly, there are many other factors that have to be considered when linking the two dynamics like all other variables the effects of which cannot be eliminated.
This does not instill confidence in the claim that the journal makes about an inverse relationship between the imprisonment of drug offenders and the crime rate.
Another reflection that is to be considered here is that the increase in the price of cocaine may very well be due to the fact that people are turning towards even more potent drugs like ecstasy, oxi, and many others.
Imprisoning drug offenders is not reducing the crime rate and here’s evidence in support of the claim. A team of the economic and criminal justice researchers spent around 20 weeks in efforts to test the popular theories for the reduction in crime. Even though the researchers were far from figuring out what factor led to the decline in the crime rate, they were however able to lay the claim that the imprisonment of criminals was a very small contributor towards the fall in the crime rate. According to the study, the growth in the imprisonment rate was responsible for around 5 percent decline in crime and ever since then, the increase in incarceration has had a null impact on the crime rate. This means that the strategy was effective up to a certain point beyond which it can do little towards solving the problem.
According to scientists and researchers, the effect is termed as the ‘incapacitation’ effect, and the results are good for a while after which the effects of the policy cease to change anything. These scientists present the logic that since some people are criminals by habit, taking them off the streets does not allow them to get involved in crime any longer but as discussed earlier, the strategy is only good for so long.
Another point that does not stand well in favor of the policy is the cost that we are sustaining on the ever increasing number of people who were a force to take residence in prisons. One of these costs and a very major concern is financial costs that the country is pouring into the current drug policy. The country wide spending on drug control in the year 2002 totaled 18.822 billion US dollars about half of which was expended on the enforcement of the drug laws. The sum clearly reflects the heavy expense of the policy, a sum that could serve a much better purpose if used elsewhere. This is heavy opportunity costs that other public sectors are being deprived of and even higher seeing how the strategy is doing little to help with drug related crimes. Jail is also quite a hefty expense. In the state of Mississippi, the yearly spending on a single prisoner is 18,000 dollars, 50,000 in California, whereas the cost to educate a single pupil for a year, is the seventh of the given figure. The question that comes important yet again is the impact of the spending. In the year 2001, every dollar spent on a prisoner was successful in averting on 37 cents worth of criminal damage, yet another evidence of the failure of America’s drug policy.
Another problem is that the policy of imprisonment was implemented with the intention of creating deterrence to the crime, but the proportion of drug users and distributers who get arrested is quite low. The data for 1999 calculated the risk of being arrested for the possession of Marijuana to be at an abysmal 3 percent, and the corresponding figure for cocaine stood at 6 percent.
Bert Useem from the Brute University and Anne Piehl from the Rutgers University allege that every 10 percent increase in the prison population would only reduce crime by 0.5 percent. Surely, these cannot be regarded as figures of success. And then there’s the matter of the criminals who emerge from prison after completing their punishment. Some of the inmates emerge from jail as more accomplished criminals. Many consider it a rotten idea to lock up first offenders and mild offenders with hardened criminals.
After establishing that the drug policy that is in execution in the United States is not likely to see much success, the debate comes to the steps that are required in the future. Many researchers are turning towards the merits of educating and informing the population of the risks and demerits attached to drugs and also towards effective rehabilitation programs. It is also essential to keep in mind that deterrence from drug crimes can also be accomplished through other punishments like the imposition fines and penalties rather than keeping the offenders locked up for long sentences and incurring all the heavy costs. The researchers are also considering it an effective strategy to focus their efforts on younger criminals because if they are stopped before becoming toughened lawbreakers, we might see some success with crimes related to drugs.
Chettiar, I. M. (2015, February 11). The Many Causes of America’s Decline in Crime. Retrieved from The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/the-many-causes-of-americas-decline-in-crime/385364/
Chicago, T. U. (2015). Incarceration. Retrieved from Crime Lab: https://crimelab.uchicago.edu/page/incarceration
Dave Bewley-Taylor, M. T. (2005). Incarceration of drug offenders: Costs and impacts. Retrieved from Beckley Foundation: http://beckleyfoundation.org/pdf/paper_07.pdf
Economist, T. (2010, July 22). Too many laws, too many prisoners. Retrieved from The Economist: http://www.economist.com/node/16636027
Ilyana Kuziemkoa, S. D. (2004). An empirical analysis of imprisoning drug offenders. Journal of Public Economics 88, 2043 – 2066.
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