Economic and Social Effects of Crime
Estimating the costs and effects of crime is important to authorities in the criminal justice system. Policymakers weigh the various costs posed by different crimes to determine which crime prevention measures have the highest priority. Researchers have tried different approaches in assessing the costs of crime. One approach has been to look at jury awards in civil suits. Juries in civil trials are often asked to determine the amount of money to be awarded to victims of crime. They consider medical expenses and property loss as well as compensation for pain and suffering.
Another source is insurance and government claims. When a victim suffers losses from crime, he may receive compensation from insurance companies or government relief agencies. These figures can also be used in determining the costs of crime. A third source in measuring the cost of crime is to study how much a person is willing to pay to avoid crime through such actions as purchasing expensive security devices.
Using these various sources, studies have estimated the cost associated with various types of crime. For example, the cost of larceny (theft) in 1993 was around $370 for each victim while murder was $2.9 million. One study estimated the savings to society by diverting a high-risk youth from potential crime was as much as $1.5 million per youth.
As opposed to street crime, white-collar crime is considered far more costly to society. It was estimated in the mid- 1990s that white-collar crime cost U.S. businesses as much as $400 billion a year, or about 6 percent of total revenue in the nation. Consumer fraud alone cost Americans about $45 billion each year.
Various agencies and organizations maintain statistics on the cost of crime in the United States though none cover the entire range of costs. They mainly focus on different aspects of criminal justice. The Bureau of Justice Statistics keeps track of expenses required to maintain effective criminal justice systems around the nation including employment costs. Other data addressing the costs to victims is available through the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). No data gathering group, however, can accurately assess all of the long-term costs of crime.
- Economic and Social Effects of Crime - The High Cost Of Crime
- Economic and Social Effects of Crime - Growing Interest In The Costs Of Crime
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