Why Fighting Crime in the U.S. Costs More than the Iraq War

Why Fighting Crime in the U.S. Costs More than the Iraq War

--"For the safety of the people is the supreme law" -Cicero

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—This admonition is as true today as it was two thousand years ago. Yet, some in America believe safety can be accomplished on the cheap. They do so because they neglect to consider the true cost of crime. The public safety, as well as the public treasury and private fortune may suffer because of their plans.

But as recent research indicates, it might be a better idea to devote more resources for crime control than devote fewer. The return on investment is high.

Debates about crime usually involve arcane social theories of causation. The polemics are usually reserved for the likes of politicians, judges, lawyers, police, corrections officials, prison reform groups, victims' rights groups and social welfare organizations. Essentially, any person or entity directly engaged in the criminal justice Indeed, one researcher compared the annual cost of crime to the total cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars plus foreign military aid.

Rarely are business people interested in criminal justice policy. One reason for this detachment is that they never know what the cost is. Business people like to know the cost and benefits. When it comes to crime, the intelligentsia rarely, if ever, studies what the cost of crime is.

But recently this has changed. More emphasis is being put on the cost of punishment. Why? Because prison reform groups - and organizations that prefer abolishing prisons altogether rather than to simply reform them – seek to enlist the aid of fiscal conservatives. The idea of decreasing prison populations is trendy among conservatives. This has led to the irony of people such as Fox Butterfield, the very liberal former New York Times reporter, being aligned with the arch-conservative, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.