We all pay for crime one way or the other. Taxes, insurance rates, medical expenses, merchandise the list goes on and on. I can’t count the times I was told by someone that they paid my salary as a police officer, so did I. Unfortunately for many the only time they think about what they pay for crime is when it personally touches their life.
The costs of crime extend far beyond the price of paint to cover graffiti. From the front lines to beyond the lock up facility crime costs big money. Criminal justice agencies, counseling services, medical facilities, court rooms, incarceration, probation, parole, victim services and support services just to name a few. We are just scratching the surface.
Technology has increased the cost of crime when equipment and evidence are factored into the equation. Communities foot the bill, often with higher taxes, to put in towers for computers in police cruisers, updated hardware, video surveillance and vehicle maintenance just to name a few. Crime does not sleep so those on the front line do not. The people and equipment operate around the clock 365 days a year.
As Art Montague (2006) noted there is not just one level of the criminal justice system we have city, county, state and federal levels that all operate at the citizens cost. All of these divisions, from local police to federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations, all have support personnel. Evidence teams, clerks, dispatchers, information technicians, human resources divisions, administrative assistants, and on and on. We have just scratched the surface of the front line.
After an arrest the cost of crime can continue to skyrocket. Public defenders, prosecutors, judges, court room security, court clerks and transportation for the accused. If the suspects are still incarcerated pending initial court appearances there are costs.
Housing in any institutional facility requires medical staff, initial medical testing, medical supplies, 24/7 supervision, food service and janitorial service just to name a few. These facilities are also at city, county, state and federal levels. The continual operational expense in any facility can be astronomical.
When someone is released from prison or jail chances are they will still be monitored by the Probation and Parole division within that city, county, state or federal system. Here again, there are equipment costs, staff costs, etc.
Victims were not always part of the costs until recently, but victims of violent crimes have medical costs, counseling and other supplemental costs covered through Victims Rights. “State compensation programs paid crime victims and their families $455 million in benefits in the federal fiscal year 2003” (National Crime, 2008, p. 1).
Crime costs every citizen and it’s time everyone considered the cost before it hits their pocketbook.
Montague, Art. The High Cost of Crime. June 21, 2006. Retrieved on 2/26/09 from http://crime.suite101.com/print_article.cfm/crimepays.
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Cost of Crime and Victimization. 2008. Retrieved on 2/26/09 from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/ncvrw/2005/pg5b.html.