Innovative Education Can Help Fight Crime in Latin America

By Gabriel Zinny and Diego Gorgal Latin America is among the most violent regions of the world. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which each year releases its annual report on violence and the drug trade, has the

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Pre-K Supporters Say More Early Education Could Lead to Lower Prison Numbers

Image courtesy By Ellen Abbott Research shows a connection between early childhood education and crime. Central New York boosters of universal pre-kindergarten say that should be an important consideration when it comes to funding quality programs. Syracuse Police Chief

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Crime and Recidivism: A Plague Upon Society

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy

When a criminal defendant is charged and convicted of a crime, they are often sentenced to a term of incarceration.  This period of imprisonment is imposed with the expectation that their criminal activities will be stopped and that their time in custody will rehabilitate them so that they will lead a law-abiding life upon release.  The ideal of prisons is that they are designed to help in this rehabilitational process — to be tools that not only punish past crime, but also deter future crime and prepare offenders for a law-abiding life post-release.

  •  As a deterrent, prisons may be working.  Crime rates are indeed dropping (a positive sign), but recidivism rates remain persistently high (a negative sign).  This can mean a number of things and leads many experts to rate the effectiveness of prisons as a deterrent to crime as inconclusive.
  •  As a punishment, prisons are “working,” in the sense that millions of people are serving time in prison, and this time is not a pleasant experience.  Categorically, inmates do not want to return to prison due to the harsh conditions found therein and the damage these correctional facilities incur on those subjected to them.  There is the additional “bonus” of employing more guards and other staff.
  •  As a place for rehabilitation, prisons are failing, and they are failing miserably, with recidivism rates remaining sky high.  The fact is that most released prisoners will return to a life of crime.  This often boils down to them not being employable, but regardless of the reason, they are returning to crime in droves.

Once a person is charged with a crime and sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the assumption is that after their time in prison they will do whatever it takes to avoid going back.  Yet, in the last several decades, there has been an increase in the number of released prisoners that have ended up back in the criminal justice system.  This is known as recidivism.

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Crime Declines While Anti-crime Funding Increases

By Christopher Zoukis 

Crime is down in the United States, but spending measures included in the $1.1 trillion federal budget passed by Congress in January 2014 will ensure that many law enforcement agencies receive more funding.

Insiders give much of the credit for the fiscal year (FY) 2014 funding increases to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, who is known as a strong proponent of crime-fighting expenditures. Senator Mikulski said the expanded funding represents a “truly bipartisan agreement that a significant number of members [of Congress] worked night and day [on] over the holidays.”

The big winners in federal law enforcement spending include the FBI, which received $8.3 billion, an increase of $248.7 million over FY 2013, and the federal Bureau of Prisons, which received $6.77 billion – an increase of $90.2 million.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also getting a boost in funding with a budget of $1.18 billion – more than $49 million over last year.

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Broken On All Sides


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The Prison Population in Colorado is Dropping. Can You Guess Why?

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Keith Humphreys, writer, researcher, and Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University nominates himself for reporting the most unreported public policy issue; the declining rate of Americans incarcerated or on probation.

Humphreys’ research theorizes that lead is a key factor associated with a decline in prison population over the past five years. His speculation is supported by a rise in lead emissions throughout the 60s and 70s resulting in a high crime rate during the 70s and 80s. Humphreys claims that even though crime rates went down in the early 90’s, incarceration rates were impacted by the remaining inmates serving long terms from the 60s and 70s while new inmates were being incarcerated.   Image courtesy

Rick Nevin is a researcher who dug deeper into the lead theory. Nevin’s investigative studies reveal that young offender incarceration rates have decreased since the dawning of 2000. In the mean time older offenders were increasing and the incarceration rate remained high. The reasoning behind Nevin’s hypothesis is that the older offenders grew up during the time period when lead emissions were high and young offenders were not exposed to lead being raised in a more environmentally conscious era.

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