Is low crime due to high incarceration?

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

Sleeper
Posts: 72
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:07 am UTC
Location: Nowhere, Fast

Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Sleeper » Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:18 pm UTC

Here's three graphs from Wikipedia:

Image
Above: The quadrupling of the number of Americans incarcerated since 1980. There's many more who are on parole but not incarcerated.

America imprisons more people per capita, and as a total sum, than any other country in the world. Even though China and India have arguably less responsible/more corrupt governments, and populations about 4 times higher, they imprison fewer people and at a lower rate.

Image
Above: The rise of the number of US property crimes since 1960 and the reduction since 1980, per 100,000 population.

Image
Violent crimes have declined since 1990, not 1980.

Is the reduction of crime rates due to the higher incarceration rate? Or is it part of the explanation? What else is part of it?
Last edited by Sleeper on Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:30 pm UTC, edited 4 times in total.

sje46
Posts: 4730
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 4:41 am UTC
Location: New Hampshire

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby sje46 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:21 pm UTC

Rise of crack epidemic, fall of crack epidemic.

If anything, the increased amount of prisoners means more crime.
General_Norris: Taking pride in your nation is taking pride in the division of humanity.
Pirate.Bondage: Let's get married. Right now.

User avatar
PAstrychef
for all intimate metaphysical encounters
Posts: 3069
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 6:24 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:32 pm UTC

There is also a correlation between the changes in crime rates and the availability of abortion. Does that equate to causation? Depends on whom you ask.
Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a puffer fish.

tankman
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:47 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby tankman » Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:56 pm UTC

sje46 wrote:If anything, the increased amount of prisoners means more crime.


Not necessary. I think we should also include population changes, changes in laws, and changes in prosecution. The graphs look at the number of people being incarcerated not the percentage of the population. Perhaps if we look at percentages it might give us a better idea if they are related. DNA evidence first started being used in the late 1980s. This could be a reason for the sharp rise in the number of people incarcerated.

Dark567
First one to notify the boards of Rick and Morty Season 3
Posts: 3686
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 5:12 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere(in the US, I don't venture outside it too often, unfortunately)

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Dark567 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:51 pm UTC

There are 4 mains reason crime has been low since the mid-90's:
  • Better policing- Broken window policies and heavy use of quantitative methods
  • Access to abortion
  • Longer prison terms, prisoners have a high rate of committing crimes when they are released. Putting more time between sentences decreases the opportunity to commit crime
  • End of the crack epidemic

The more interesting thing is the apparently falling crime rates during the recession...
I apologize, 90% of the time I write on the Fora I am intoxicated.


Yakk wrote:The question the thought experiment I posted is aimed at answering: When falling in a black hole, do you see the entire universe's future history train-car into your ass, or not?

User avatar
LaserGuy
Posts: 4585
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:33 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:55 pm UTC

Over the long term, incarceration rates seem have little effect on crime rates. Here's an article that looks at the phenomenon in some detail. I think this figure 5 pretty much says it all: incarceration rates have been increasing pretty much continuously since 1970, yet the crime rate has gone up some years, and down some others. While I don't have data on hand, my understanding is that crime rates are also falling throughout much of the developed world.

Dark567
First one to notify the boards of Rick and Morty Season 3
Posts: 3686
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 5:12 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere(in the US, I don't venture outside it too often, unfortunately)

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Dark567 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:03 pm UTC

LaserGuys article wrote:“About 25% of the decline in violent crime can be attributed to increased incarceration. While one-quarter of the crime drop is not insubstantial, we then know that most of the decline — three-quarters — was due to factors other than incarceration.”


That article actually almost identically labels the same things I did as the reasons for the decrease...although it leaves out abortion.
I apologize, 90% of the time I write on the Fora I am intoxicated.


Yakk wrote:The question the thought experiment I posted is aimed at answering: When falling in a black hole, do you see the entire universe's future history train-car into your ass, or not?

User avatar
CorruptUser
Posts: 10549
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:45 am UTC

Dark567 wrote:The more interesting thing is the apparently falling crime rates during the recession...


Harder to fence stolen goods? Electronics are cheap(er than in 1980) and become obsolete fast, so fewer people would buy used electronics.

I still agree with Freakanomics, where legalized abortion lowers the crime rate.

Also, those statistics are reported crimes. Quite sure rape wasn't likely to be reported in 1960. Murder is hard to hide, unless NOTE: CRACKPOT CONSPIRACY THEORY AHEAD you are Japan and claim most murders are 'suicides'.

User avatar
Thesh
Made to Fuck Dinosaurs
Posts: 6598
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Thesh » Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:29 am UTC

You can't just look at numbers like that, you have to look at what the incarcerations are for, you need offender demographics. What I would like to see is what percentage of offenders are under 18, and what are the incarceration rates for people under 18. I'm willing to bet that juvenile crime rates have dropped off, despite an insignificant change in incarceration rates for juveniles. This would suggest the incarceration rate is not the primary factor in the drop in crime.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

BattleMoose
Posts: 1993
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:42 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:58 am UTC

I would expect social and economic societal issues would have a much higher impact on crime rate than incarceration ever could. Certainly I think incarceration and law enforcement has an impact but it would be very difficult to quantify considering the larger societal impacts and economic impacts on crime rates.

Elliot
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:52 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Elliot » Sat Oct 08, 2011 11:50 am UTC

Crime statistics don't tell you the number of crimes. Depending on the source, they might be numbers of convictions or arrests, or the number of crimes known to police (i.e. detected or reported). There are lots of reasons why those things might change, other than a change in the actual number of crimes. For instance, the prevalence of insurance is going to have an effect on crime rates, because often people only bother to report a crime so they can file an insurance claim. Also, certain types of crimes tend to be greatly underrepresented in official criminal statistics, either because they're not reported (like domestic violence) or because they're often not treated as crimes (industrial 'accidents'). So you can't just rely on those statistics as being a measurement of the number of crimes that are committed.
And in any case, those statistics seem to show that crime rates are much higher than they were 50 years ago, when the US prison population was much lower. There was a period of greatly increased crime rates that seems to be coming to an end, but that's not exactly what the 'incarceration reduces crime' hypothesis would predict. Indeed the period at which incarceration started to rapidly increase (around 1980) is followed by a decade of very high crime rates. You say that property crimes started to decrease in 1980, but that's quickly followed by an increase between 1984 and 1991.

As for other factors involved in reducing crime, things have changed a lot since the '80s. There are a lot more cameras, alarm systems and immobilisers. This provides a reason for criminals to commit as few burglaries, robberies, et cetera as possible, since there's a greater difficulty and a greater chance of being caught. At the same time, a lot more people have small, expensive items in their pockets, houses and cars, so one can steal from fewer people and still gain the same value of loot (it would be interesting to compare statistics on the value of stolen property, rather than the number of thefts). A reduction in the murder rate is to be expected following advances in emergency medical services, since people are more likely to survive when attacked.

BattleMoose
Posts: 1993
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:42 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby BattleMoose » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:02 pm UTC

Typically when considering crime trends, murders are focused on, as those have the highest rate of being reported. There's always a body, that usually someone at least wants taken away or a missing person.

Elliot
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:52 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Elliot » Tue Oct 11, 2011 3:05 am UTC

It's more commonly homicides, rather than specifically murders. For these sorts of analyses there's not a big difference between murder and manslaughter, and in reality the difference might be attributable to a plea bargain rather than any actual difference of conduct.
But even with homicides, it's not really straightforward. If a person dies working on a construction site, because some legally required safety measure is absent, is that a homicide? Morally, of course it is. Legally it's a bit complex, but it certainly can be. But in practice there's a good chance it will be recorded as an accident. Our criminal statistics are influenced by dominant discourses of crime which emphasise the criminality of the proletariat, while seeking to ignore or justify the crimes of the ruling class. So even when you focus only in homicide, what we might morally consider homicide is not necessarily what the law considers homicide. And what the law considers homicide, is not the same as what the police consider homicide.

Warren Dew
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:26 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Warren Dew » Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:56 am UTC

Sleeper, the main problem with that idea is that incarceration does not explain the increase in crime in the 1960s and beyond. However, perhaps including other forms of detention explains both the historical increase and decrease in crime:

http://www.volokh.com/files/bernardharcourt-volokh_graph.1.JPG

User avatar
Laserdan
Posts: 162
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 3:12 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Laserdan » Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:19 am UTC

Well how do incarceration rates for specific crime correlate with that specific crime (using suitable avaible data for that, which may be not that easy), simply because if I interpret the section in the same Wiki article the OP had his data from has a section about types of crimes that explicitly talks about how the percentage of inmates convicted for violent crimes seemed to stay generally stable.

If you however compare the fact that since 1980 (basically, after the War on Drugs gained momentum), the amount of inmates convicted for drugs rose twelve-fold, while drug use and addiction are generally relatively stable over long times (we've got about 1% addicts before Harrison and Anslinger, and today where still at about 1%, data due leap.cc) outside of epidemics, which correlate more with newly-avaible drugs and drug purity on the street (need to find the data, but there was for example a graph that clearly showed correlations between pseudoephedrine avaibility (especially in South East Asian chemical plants), purity and meth usage in the case of meth epidemics. I'll try to find it).
"Sobriety is a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs."

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:00 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Dark567 wrote:The more interesting thing is the apparently falling crime rates during the recession...


Harder to fence stolen goods? Electronics are cheap(er than in 1980) and become obsolete fast, so fewer people would buy used electronics.

I still agree with Freakanomics, where legalized abortion lowers the crime rate.

Also, those statistics are reported crimes. Quite sure rape wasn't likely to be reported in 1960. Murder is hard to hide, unless NOTE: CRACKPOT CONSPIRACY THEORY AHEAD you are Japan and claim most murders are 'suicides'.


All of this is reasonable, and in addition, we have an aging population. Crimes, especially violent crimes, are typically committed by the young, not the granny on social security. So, a certain decrease of crime is to be expected as age demographics change.

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby morriswalters » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:05 pm UTC

So little time to commit crime, what with having a phone, and video games and, and cable TV, and fast food, and the thousand other distractions that befuddle us. Someone actually did some research.

User avatar
Adam H
Posts: 1267
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:36 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Adam H » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:41 pm UTC

I think one interesting thing to keep in mind is that an increase in crime should directly cause higher incarceration rates, and a decrease in crime should directly cause lower incarceration rates.

I have no idea what to conclude from that though. I'm just talking for the sake of talking.
-Adam

User avatar
idobox
Posts: 1591
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:54 pm UTC
Location: Marseille, France

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby idobox » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:31 pm UTC

I have no idea how to measure it, but the birth control idea really appeals to me.

As for incarceration, I don't think (totally unsupported claim) that it's very efficient.
On one hand, you have people who are afraid of prison, and whether they risk 1 or 2 years shouldn't the rate at which they commit crimes much.
You have the people who don't really project in the future, or are more scared of something else (junkies, people who owe money to loansharks).
Then you have the whole population that isn't afraid at all, or even consider it a rite of passage. I don't have any data to support my claims, but I suppose quite a lot of bad guys first went to prison for smaller crimes (dealing canabis, stealing bags), met tougher criminals, joined a gang to survive prison, made a bunch of contacts, and then switched shooting rival meth dealers or robbing banks.
Keeping people in prison longer reduces the number of crimes they can commit outside, but a lot of crime is committed in prison too. That changes the nature of crimes, but I'm not sure it would have a huge impact on numbers.

I don't think criminals think something like "if I burgle a house, I risk to go to jail for that long, and can earn that much, but if I break in and beat the owner up, I can get earn that much more, but also risk that much more".
If there is no answer, there is no question. If there is no solution, there is no problem.

Waffles to space = 100% pure WIN.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:42 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:I think one interesting thing to keep in mind is that an increase in crime should directly cause higher incarceration rates, and a decrease in crime should directly cause lower incarceration rates.


It *should*, in a perfect world. But realistically, there's a million complicating factors. Reporting rates, arrest rates, conviction rates, changes in what is illegal. At a certain point, the conclusions you can draw between the two are...limited.

User avatar
Adam H
Posts: 1267
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:36 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Adam H » Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:03 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Adam H wrote:I think one interesting thing to keep in mind is that an increase in crime should directly cause higher incarceration rates, and a decrease in crime should directly cause lower incarceration rates.


It *should*, in a perfect world. But realistically, there's a million complicating factors. Reporting rates, arrest rates, conviction rates, changes in what is illegal. At a certain point, the conclusions you can draw between the two are...limited.
Sure. And one of those complicating factors is that crime rate and incarceration rate are interdependent in an opposite way than you'd first expect.

In a "perfect world", high crime leads to high incarceration which leads to low crime which leads to low incarceration which leads to high crime, etc... so the hypothetical thought experiment is FUBAR without even considering other factors.
-Adam

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:37 pm UTC

idobox wrote:I don't think criminals think something like "if I burgle a house, I risk to go to jail for that long, and can earn that much, but if I break in and beat the owner up, I can get earn that much more, but also risk that much more".


I would imagine that anyone who's very carefully engaged in long term planning and risk/reward evaluation would be steered away from a life of crime, yes.

That, or he'd be very, very good at it, and in a subsector of it with high potential rewards and low risks, like white collar crime.

User avatar
Laserdan
Posts: 162
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 3:12 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Laserdan » Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:19 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
idobox wrote:
I would imagine that anyone who's very carefully engaged in long term planning and risk/reward evaluation would be steered away from a life of crime, yes.

That, or he'd be very, very good at it, and in a subsector of it with high potential rewards and low risks, like white collar crime.


If you're consisently that good, you'd probably be making much more (and safer) money in the private sector or be really sure you are gonna be a boss in your crime syndicate. Profit ranges in contraband dealing etc. is hugely profitable, but the lower ranks carry disproportionaly high risks with low rewards.

Other than that, incarceration is not a good system in my view. First, as someone said, it's basically the college where you get your bachelor of crime. It's a great place to meet other criminals who were caught and learn from each other how to be a better criminal. Second, the whole punishment system seems strange to me, and pointless. I do have an idea for a system in mind but that's way too much off topic.
"Sobriety is a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs."

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7604
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Zamfir » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:10 pm UTC

It's not as if 'good at planning' is written on your forehead, or a universally applicable skill. Someone has to give you the opportunities to build experience in a well-paying private sector, and as a rule they don't give you those opportunities if your CV says 'burglaries and car theft', even you were actually fairly good at it.

At some point, most of the vaguely prestigious white collar careers (including crime) are just not open to you anymore.

willaaaaaa
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:09 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby willaaaaaa » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:41 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:In a "perfect world", high crime leads to high incarceration which leads to low crime which leads to low incarceration which leads to high crime, etc... so the hypothetical thought experiment is FUBAR without even considering other factors.


Would low incarceration really lead to high crime? In this hypothetical perfect world, the probability of being punished for one's crime is always 100%, so the fact that there are fewer people in jail wouldn't make it any easier or more desirable to commit crimes. In fact, the only people committing crimes would be those who value the reward from the crime higher than the cost of certain incarceration.
"If you can't control your peanut butter, you can't expect to control your life." - Bill Watterson

User avatar
Adam H
Posts: 1267
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:36 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Adam H » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:50 pm UTC

willaaaaaa wrote:
Adam H wrote:In a "perfect world", high crime leads to high incarceration which leads to low crime which leads to low incarceration which leads to high crime, etc... so the hypothetical thought experiment is FUBAR without even considering other factors.


Would low incarceration really lead to high crime? In this hypothetical perfect world, the probability of being punished for one's crime is always 100%, so the fact that there are fewer people in jail wouldn't make it any easier or more desirable to commit crimes.
Ah, no, by "perfect" i mean that people act 'rational' - if you don't think you'll get punished you should be more likely to commit a crime.
-Adam

willaaaaaa
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:09 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby willaaaaaa » Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:03 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:
willaaaaaa wrote:
Adam H wrote:In a "perfect world", high crime leads to high incarceration which leads to low crime which leads to low incarceration which leads to high crime, etc... so the hypothetical thought experiment is FUBAR without even considering other factors.


Would low incarceration really lead to high crime? In this hypothetical perfect world, the probability of being punished for one's crime is always 100%, so the fact that there are fewer people in jail wouldn't make it any easier or more desirable to commit crimes.
Ah, no, by "perfect" i mean that people act 'rational' - if you don't think you'll get punished you should be more likely to commit a crime.


Ah, sorry, I see. But you would still need to distinguish between incarceration NUMBERS and incarceration RATES (i.e. probability of being arrested given that you commit a certain crime). The number of people in jail could decrease (due to lower crime rates), while the percentage of criminals jailed remains the same. So a rational person shouldn't think that the low jail populations indicate that it's easier to get away with crime.
"If you can't control your peanut butter, you can't expect to control your life." - Bill Watterson

User avatar
Adam H
Posts: 1267
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:36 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Adam H » Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:56 pm UTC

willaaaaaa wrote:
Adam H wrote:
willaaaaaa wrote:
Adam H wrote:In a "perfect world", high crime leads to high incarceration which leads to low crime which leads to low incarceration which leads to high crime, etc... so the hypothetical thought experiment is FUBAR without even considering other factors.


Would low incarceration really lead to high crime? In this hypothetical perfect world, the probability of being punished for one's crime is always 100%, so the fact that there are fewer people in jail wouldn't make it any easier or more desirable to commit crimes.
Ah, no, by "perfect" i mean that people act 'rational' - if you don't think you'll get punished you should be more likely to commit a crime.


Ah, sorry, I see. But you would still need to distinguish between incarceration NUMBERS and incarceration RATES (i.e. probability of being arrested given that you commit a certain crime). The number of people in jail could decrease (due to lower crime rates), while the percentage of criminals jailed remains the same. So a rational person shouldn't think that the low jail populations indicate that it's easier to get away with crime.
Yeah methinks you're right. I guess I was using "incarceration" to mean both incarcerations per capita and incarcerations per crime.
-Adam

Byrel
Posts: 24
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2011 2:27 am UTC
Location: Michigan, USA

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Byrel » Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:34 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:
willaaaaaa wrote:
Ah, sorry, I see. But you would still need to distinguish between incarceration NUMBERS and incarceration RATES (i.e. probability of being arrested given that you commit a certain crime). The number of people in jail could decrease (due to lower crime rates), while the percentage of criminals jailed remains the same. So a rational person shouldn't think that the low jail populations indicate that it's easier to get away with crime.
Yeah methinks you're right. I guess I was using "incarceration" to mean both incarcerations per capita and incarcerations per crime.


Hmmm. Actually I'm not sure that deterrence would scale with the actual chance of getting incarcerated (the rate) rather than with the availability of a memory of someone else getting caught (which would probably scale with the incarceration numbers.) It sounds like a classic condition for the Availability Heuristic.

Of course, then we have to deal with any damping on the system imposed by duration of incarceration. Perhaps we're looking at an over damped system after all: the incarceration numbers goes up as the crime goes up, and causes the crime rate to drop. The incarceration numbers lag behind the crime rate, as it takes some time for folks to get out of prison. This influences the crime rate stay low, despite the reduced incarceration rate, and allows the system to decay smoothly to equilibrium.

Or maybe the lag induced by people remembering old incarceration numbers is more significant, and the system is actually unstable: the incarceration numbers go up as the crime rate goes up, but the criminals haven't caught up to the new regime yet, and keep pushing the crime rate higher. Eventually they catch on, and are horrified by the number of their fellows incarcerated. They immediately swear off crime completely, and are utterly deterred from any anti-social activity. Although this drops the incarceration numbers to zero, they remember the dark days, and INSIST on helping old ladies across the street instead. This lasts until the next generation of criminals arrives, with no memories of a darker past, and eager to get into the game... which again drives crimes rate through the roof.

Simply put, negative feedback does not imply oscillation. Or, for that matter, stability. Given how often human societies devolve into dreadful dystopias, I'm not sure I'd put bets on inherent stability in any case.

User avatar
CorruptUser
Posts: 10549
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Sep 02, 2012 5:11 pm UTC

Another problem is that high incarceration rates make prison less of a mark of shame and more of a right of passage. Going to prison gives you 'street cred' rather than 'stay the hell away from this piece of shit cred'.

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby morriswalters » Sun Sep 02, 2012 11:09 pm UTC

Incarceration rates elsewhere are not as high as here yet crime is down there also, for instance Canada.

User avatar
Laserdan
Posts: 162
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 3:12 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Laserdan » Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:49 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Incarceration rates elsewhere are not as high as here yet crime is down there also, for instance Canada.


Well, Canada does have a different culture, too. I don't know it but my conjecture is that Canada is kind of "the part of Europe attached to America".

There isn't any obvious connection, and I think the subject dips its toes into everything (social, economic, education, culture). And I think the prison system is completely incapable of being helpful here in its current incarnation. Jail is kind of the College system for criminals, only cheaper, and credits are much more enforced. It's an accepted carreer step. And that's with an already kind of brutal system, which serves to show that undirected, freely projected force hardens people and alienates them even more from society.
"Sobriety is a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs."

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:16 pm UTC

Well, jail also reduces opportunity to get not-criminal jobs. I've seen "have you ever been convicted of a felony" questions on job applications before, and I can't imagine that a "yes" would help your case at all.

So, a higher incarceration rate could potentially feed a higher crime rate to some degree. Not saying that it does for sure right now...lots of variables at play here, merely that I can see situations in which it could.

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:00 pm UTC

A lot of crime doesn't need street cred, it's the ordinary, hit somebody in the head and rob them, or break into unoccupied homes and loot them. Incarceration may reduce crime in some locations simply because there are less people to commit crimes extant in that location. It would be interesting to add the crimes committed in places of incarceration to the tally, and see where that leads.

User avatar
CorruptUser
Posts: 10549
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:07 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:A lot of crime doesn't need street cred, it's the ordinary, hit somebody in the head and rob them, or break into unoccupied homes and loot them.


What I meant is that a higher incarceration rate makes it more socially acceptable to be a criminal...

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:36 pm UTC

I believe I get what you mean, but I've never noticed that anybody that moves in the circles that crime comes out of have ever cared about their status. Being popped for possession or burglary, or in fact most petty crime is not a social factor to any great degree. Those people will never in most cases move in circles where it matters. It's a fact of life that goes with being poor. It's interesting to the people they move around in the sense of knowing who is safe and who isn't. It's a fact among other facts. Major felons are people to avoid, like plague carriers. In the most part when they are incarcerated they have to prey on the people they are incarcerated with.

ecce
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:56 am UTC
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby ecce » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:33 am UTC

Given there seems to be some confusion of terms above, I thought I should mention "incarceration rate" seems to refer to [population in prison]/[total population], while "arrest rate" seems to refer to [solved cases for a type of crime]/[total cases for a type of crime].

Nothing is simple of course- briefly checking Wikipedia, I can't say it's clear if arrest rate is based on total number of crimes or total number of criminals involved in the crime- for example say there are two bank robberies, one is a solo job while the other is committed by a team of 4; if the solo guy gets away while three members of that team are arrested, would you call it a 50% arrest rate (1 of 2 crimes led to arrests), 60% arrest rate (3 of 5 robbers arrested), or something else (can you say 50% of cases solved if you didn't nab the whole team)?

Regardless of the calculation method for arrest rate, one would "intuitively" assume a high incarceration rate would be caused by a high crime rate ([# of a type of crime]/[total population]) and/or a high arrest rate, while a high arrest rate would cause a lower crime rate. Such assumptions may not hold in reality, but at the very least they're the assumptions that tend to drive policy decisions, for better or for worse.

User avatar
Laserdan
Posts: 162
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 3:12 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Laserdan » Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:50 am UTC

I can't find the statistic I had just yesterday that shows how a while after the serious War on Drugs started under Nixon, incarceration rates for non-drug crimes dropped quite a bit while drug crime (usually simple possession, no violence) incarceration exploded.

So if that statistic was good (I'm trying hard to find it on my PC), I think that says a lot about policing and how it works. See The Wire. Statistics is everything.
"Sobriety is a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs."

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:35 pm UTC

I can't speak to the former, but drug crime incarceration has been on a long term rising trend due to increased enforcement. I suspect that refocusing on violent crime might be a much more effective use of crime fighting dollars, myself. I'm not a huge fan of low level drug dealers/users....but I'm a lot more worried about violent criminals as a practical matter, and the two aren't exactly the same group of people.

dg61
Posts: 287
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:30 am UTC

Re: Is low crime due to high incarceration?

Postby dg61 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:38 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Dark567 wrote:The more interesting thing is the apparently falling crime rates during the recession...

Murder is hard to hide, unless NOTE: CRACKPOT CONSPIRACY THEORY AHEAD you are Japan and claim most murders are 'suicides'.

Where does this come from, exactly? I mean, high suicide rates are not that much better-looking than high murder rates and a decent coroner should be able to tell the difference between suicide and murder(now suicide and "unfortunate accident" or death by misadventure might be trickier). Of course, Japanese culture tends to look more favorably upon suicide in certain respects but that cuts both ways.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests