Figting Crime with Marginal Thinking

Figting Crime with Marginal Thinking

Economic View
A Smarter (and Cost-Efficient) Way to Fight Crime
By ROBERT H. FRANK
Published: October 4, 2009
Focusing on one group of offenders to raise the chance that they will be caught, then moving on to another group, can be effective.
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12 Responses

  1. The article discusses an intriguing strategy, introduced by Dr. Mark Kleiman, to fight crime in the United States. Dr. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA, believes the answer to deterring crime is not to increase the severity of a criminal’s punishment, but to increase the probability of apprehending and punishing the criminal swiftly. His strategy has seen success in crime-ridden cities such as Boston and Hempstead.

    Dr. Kleiman incorporates game theory to strategize crime prevention. According to his strategy, one specific group or gang should be targeted heavily by law enforcement, allowing the group no opportunities to commit crimes. When it is certain the crackdown is preventing the group from further offenses, the police can move on to a second group. The cycle continues, providing large-scale crime prevention with the efficient use of a seemingly insufficient police force.

  2. According to an article from The Los Angeles times called “L.A. shifts tactics against gangs”, published in January of 2007, the strategy of targeting top priority gangs was implemented by the Los Angeles Police Department more than two years before the publication of Frank’s article in The New York Times. The police officials in Los Angeles, reacting to a rapid increase in gang-related violence in the city, decided to focus the greater part of their resources on the top ten most violent gangs which were responsible for the majority of crimes in the city. However, there is a striking question arising from this discovery. Did police in Los Angeles base their decision-making on the policy recommendations from Dr. Kleiman, or was independent research carried out which achieved the same policy suggestions?

  3. One of the essential questions the economics of crime struggles to answer is whether increasing the severity of punishment is more effective in deterring crimes or increasing the probability that the offenders get caught. The former notion is strongly defended by the two articles already mentioned in this discussion. However, economist Lana Friesen of the University of Queensland in Brisbane believes that in order to reduce crimes it is important that the justice system increases the severity of punishment for criminals. In her journal article called “Certainty of punishment versus severity of punishment: An experimental investigation”, Friesen, using laboratory experiments, draws conclusions which oppose findings of the mainstream empirical crime literature. Her conclusions could be valuable to policymakers and police authorities dealing with the increasing number of crimes in the United States.

  4. I would like to compare and contrast various educational systems because I want to discover the system with the highest return rate in order to create better equipped human capital in the future. The topic is “applied” because the information has practical consequences.

  5. Topic: I am doing an applied economic research focused on how effective in the crime deterrence is the police strategy of creating a priority list with the most dangerous offenders and shifting resources on these criminals.
    Question: I want to find out whether increasing the probability of capturing outlaws by shifting police resources on them can bring the crime to lower rates than increasing the severity of punishment for crimes.
    Practical Significance: The results of this research could help police authorities as well as policy-makers to design and implement strategies that would significantly reduce the crime rates.

  6. I am conducting a research which focuses on how a government strategy of issuing the priority list with corporations that pollute the environment the most, can effectively reduce the level of industrial pollution in the United States. I want to find out whether this theory, which was originally suggested by Dr. Kleiman in order to fight the crime, can also be used to deteriorate high levels of pollution that we can see in our country nowadays. The results of my research could help E.P.A. and other government agencies monitoring environment to determine which strategy in fighting against the worst polluters is the most effective.

  7. My research examines the long-term effects of abolition of the death penalty in countries of the European Union on the crime rates in these countries. I want to find out whether abolition of the death penalty can actually cause crime rates to decline in the long run which would be in contradiction with findings of Dr. Friesen. She claims that increasing the severity of punishment causes crime rates to go down. Findings of my research could serve as a hard evidence for the campaign against the death penalty in the United States.

  8. My research investigates the effectiveness of Dr. Kleiman’s strategy to fight crime in New York using game theory. The research is an attempt to discover the full efficiency of Dr. Kleiman’s strategy, along with its applicability to other cities with other various crime problems. It is necessary to realize the measure’s full effectiveness in order to advocate and maintain the safety of citizens within potentially crime-ridden cities.

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