Economic and Social Effects of Crime - Community Efforts To Avoid Crime Costs
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Community efforts to avoid crime costs
Crime can cause property values to decline in certain areas of a town and even increase the cost of housing in other areas not suffering from crime. Studies have shown certain
neighborhoods with high crime rates will maintain these rates unless there is a community-wide effort to stop it. In the early 1990s studies concluded that certain neighborhoods become crime ridden as the number of abandoned buildings and cars increase, if there are unkempt vacant lots, and broken windows. Such areas tend to attract criminal activity. Crime can grow from minor offenses to major ones.
Fear of crime in these areas steadily increases and the resulting economic and social effects can span out into the surrounding city. Residents become more withdrawn and defensive and less committed to their communities. The very social fiber of the community is weakened. Some communities adopt neighborhood watch programs to revitalize the community or avoid its decay.
The rising cost of crime prevention and criminal justice systems reflects the rising cost of crime to society. Studies in the early 1990s suggested that for every one dollar spent on crime prevention programs, seven dollars were saved in crime victimization costs. Not only is the cost of crime reduced, but community tax revenues increase due to higher earnings and greater economic productivity, costs of social service programs are reduced, and healthcare expenses fall.
Such cost savings have led more communities to focus on crime prevention programs. These programs, both outside prison walls and within, concentrate on attacking the causes of crime and juvenile delinquency including poverty, inadequate housing, broken families, and limited educational opportunities. These programs can include increased vocational training, healthcare facilities, family counseling, and family planning.
Prison programs designed to prevent released offenders from becoming repeat offenders include education programs, employment training, and substance abuse treatment.
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