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Economic and Social Effects of Crime

Crime And Politics

Given the extensive economic and social costs of crime, it often has a major impact in politics. Since the 1970s calls for law and order have led to tough stances by politicians on crime. Public safety is a major issue, and the fear of crime is frequently used by politicians to influence voters. Even with the decrease in crime rates through the 1990s, fear of crime remained a political issue since building more prisons, making sentences longer, and expanding police forces require taxpayer dollars.

In the early 2000s the cost of crime increased dramatically after the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., in September 2001. The attacks killed three thousand people and presented staggering costs in terms of destruction. Congress created the Department of Homeland Security, which became operational in March 2003. The department's budget in 2004 was almost $37 billion, which was used to increase security in airports and at our nation's borders, and to develop counterterrorism and bioterrorism (the use of biological weapons such as poisons or gases) measures. Fear of further crime or terrorism drove up the costs of crime and in many cases drastically altered people's daily habits as the War on Terror unfolded.

Costs Affecting the Offender

Victims and their families are not the only individuals to directly suffer from crime. The offender and his family also suffer costs. There are lost wages of the offender while in jail or prison, lost future earnings because of the criminal record, loss of productivity to industry, and loss of a family member to others including children.

Offenders are often forced to pay a fine for their crime, the oldest form of criminal penalty in history. They may also face civil penalties to compensate the losses of their victims. Fines and civil penalties may be paid not only to the crime victim but also to local communities to reimburse the costs of prosecuting cases.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawEconomic and Social Effects of Crime - Growing Interest In The Costs Of Crime, Determining Costs, The High Cost Of Crime, Community Efforts To Avoid Crime Costs