Criminal Law

Everyone Pays the Costs Crime

Sure, we all know crime doesn't pay. The bad guys get caught and go to jail. It's not the kind of life most of us work for. While it doesn't pay, crime sure does cost - all of us, and a lot of money.

Sticker Shock

In 2010, a study by Iowa State University researchers shows some startling math. The figures show how much money some major crimes or felonies cost all of us, as a society as a whole.

A single homicide or murder costs $17.25 million; each rape over $448,000.  The study used information from several states, and focused on factors like costs to the victims, criminal justice costs, and how much we're willing to pay to prevent future crimes.

Not So New?

Sadly, while the study may be new, the trend is old. For example, 2006 Department of Justice (DOJ) data show federal, state, and local governments spent about $214 billion for police, jails, and legal actions.

2007 DOJ numbers don't show any signs of decreasing costs, either.

What Can We Do?

How can we lower costs and curb crime at the same time? Some suggest:

  • Invest in education. It's argued that many turn to crime because of poor education opportunities. Better schools and keeping our children in them lower crime rates
  • Increase money on social services. Having easy and legal access to basic needs and necessities makes someone less likely to commit a crime to get those basic needs and necessities
  • Curb repeat offenders. A 2009 study in Alaska shows savings of hundreds of millions each year by spending more on educational programs to keep inmates from committing new crimes after being released
  • Don't vote against that tax levy for paying police officers. Use this crime calculator to see how the crime rate in your area increases when fewer police officers patrol

In the end, we all pay for the crimes others commit. We have to find a way to protect our safety and our wallets.  

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What happens to the money paid by criminals when they're fined?
  • Can prisoners be forced to pay for or work-off some of the costs of keeping them in jail?
  • Is a state legally liable if a known criminal, who isn't in jail because of lack of jail space, commits a crime and hurts someone? 
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