Pay folks decently?
Here’s a new report that concludes, as The Washington Post reports, that:
..raising the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour could prevent as many as half a million crimes annually, according to a new report from the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, a group of economists and researchers charged with providing the president with analysis and advice on economic questions. (h/t Washington Monthly)
On the other hand:
…spending an additional $10 billion on incarceration — a massive increase — would reduce crime by only 1 percent to 4 percent, according to the report.
More (and, dear FSM, better) police would help too, the report suggests. Here’s a fact I didn’t know:
Research consistently shows that departments with more manpower and technology do a better job of protecting the public, and the United States has 35 percent fewer officers relative to the population than do other countries on average….
Spending an additional $10 billion to expand police forces could reduce crime by as much as 16 percent, they project, preventing 1.5 million crimes a year.
Ultimately, the point being made through the data is that locking lots of folks up is — my gloss here — the mark of prior failures. Or, if you’ve got the Obama gift for seeing the policy opportunity as well as the yawning need, you’d look at it this way:
In the report, the CEA argues for a broader analysis of the problems of crime and incarceration, touching on subjects that seem unrelated to criminal justice, such as early childhood education and health care. The authors of the report contend that by helping people get by legally, those other elements of the president’s agenda would be more effective in reducing crime than incarceration.
Image: William Hogarth, Prison Scene from A Rake’s Progress, 1732-35