Crime control policy is one of the contemporary issues whose literature has been developed from many study areas. Some of these study areas include the general studies of the crime control operations such as the courts, police and corrections, crime control studies, crime control reform studies, the studies of the causes of criminal behaviors and offender rehabilitation and the studies that are aimed at linking the public policy to crime control knowledge. The public has ranked crime as one of the serious problems and there are intense debates about crime facts when putting into consideration the alternative policies that are used in when dealing with crimes. Even if the literatures and researches have been done, very little knowledge has been developed that can be used in crime prevention or development of appropriate policies for responding to crime. This paper discuses defines crime control policy and discuses various aspects related to it.
What are crime control policies?
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These are laws, regulations and other actions of the government that are designed with the aim of reducing the criminal acts. Due to the fact that public safety is the government's key responsibility, the federal, state and local level policy makers are involved in the formulation and implementation of the crime control policies (Blomberg, G. T). In controlling crime, the criminal justice system takes three forms namely; incapacitation, rehabilitation and deterrence. Incapacitation involves the removal of the offender from the society through imprisonment with the aim of preventing him/her from committing more crimes. Rehabilitation involves the modification of the behavior of the criminals. Deterrence is a threat to potential and actual offenders by punishing the identified ones. These policies are carried out alongside the efforts of achieving other criminal justice and goals such as enhancing public confidence in the justice system, maintaining law and order in the penal facilities and the imposing of the deserved punishment to criminals. In the process of developing effective crime control policies, the criminal career knowledge is important. Further, the distinguishing among the criminal careers is significant in enhancing the crime control potential of the alternative strategies by effectively targeting various efforts of crime control (Blumstein, A, National Research Council (U.S.) & Panel on Research on Criminal).
The cost of crime control
In the United States of America, crime remains to be one of the major social problems especially in the lives of the poor citizens whose neighborhoods are the perpetual victims to the social and economic costs of crime and who bear the human costs of punishments and enforcement. The American people continue to live ion far for their safety and they always take more costly measures to avoid being victimized (Dunworth, T & Marsh, K). The crime avoidance costs involve the measures that the potential victims take to minimize the risks that they face. This includes moving to safe environments and the installation of security alarms. This shows that many people incur many costs to avoid crime than they are actually victimized. The victimization costs largely fall on the victims who take them and the ones who are inconvenienced because of the fear of crime and when the crime control that is believed to improve the environment for the public is turned around (Mark, K., 2000).
The importance of imperfect rationality of serious offenders
There exists a large disconnect between the known aspects of the offenders' behavior and the current crime control policies. This is seen in many serious offenders who accounts for large proportion of damages done by offending. Relative to the economic theory rational actor or the law abiding people who are considered as the decision makers, the offenders responds to immediate as opposed to deferred consequences and to threats that are directly communicated as compared to the ones inferred from vicarious and personal experience. For instance, the increase of the severity if the threatened punishment is uncertain would increase the deterrent effect of that threat as applied to the hypothetical offenders with the behaviors that match with the economist's perfect rationality models (Mark, K., 2000).
Delinquency Prevention as Crime Control
According to research, a greater percentage of offenders possess extensive juvenile records and the seriousness of the records is among the strongest risk factors for the future criminality. In the United States of America, many juvenile offenders are ordered to out-of-home placements every year which is very costly. They are sometimes being supervised in their communities by the juvenile court agents and the state and local governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on delinquency prevention programs which are aimed at decreasing the likelihood of the citizens engaging in crimes. There are programs that provide good preventive interventions for the juveniles in all settings. For example, the parents are trained in various techniques that they use in disciplining and monitoring their children. This is much more cost effective relative to the mandatory crime prevention sentences. The only shortcoming of this method is its lack of collateral benefits of punishment that are valued in the society (Zimrig, E. F & Greenwood, W. P., 2007).
Within the youth development policy sphere, delinquency prevention must involve all the programs that are designed to benefit the development of juveniles and it should be able to deal with the problems that can disrupt its mission. Some of the designed beneficial programs include special education, mental health, healthcare and foster care. The juvenile behaviors that are being focused on the prevention programs are teen smoking, substance abuse, school dropout, teen pregnancy and delinquency. The delinquency prevention policy evolution and practice reflects the changing developments and perspectives in both youth development and crime control. The programs and policies that deal with serious delinquency are mostly influenced by the trends in the criminal sentencing and criminal corrections. The general welfare and educational programs attempt to change the course of life of the juveniles in respect to other outcomes such as social development, attainment of education and future income (Zimrig, E. F & Greenwood, W. P., 2007).
Drug abuse control policies
The drug control policies are grouped into categories namely: laws, prevention, innovative partners and conventional law enforcement. The most important choice of policy regarding the drugs or substances is whether to make it legal or prohibit it. The option spectrum ranges from no or little regulation to a draconian prohibition. However, the important distinction is whether the substance production, distribution, purchases and use are legally permissible for a certain population share such as for all youths. If this is so, the increased substance/drugs use and crimes associated with drug use will be expected. If not, the black market will come up and very high economic and systemic crime levels will immerge. For the legal substances, the drug sales, use and behaviors that are connected to them can be partially controlled by the regulations.
For example, the laws can regulate some intoxicated behavior such as public drunkenness and driving while drunk or intoxicated. The laws are able to regulate the drug commerce by placing some regulations on the form, potency and commercial behavior through limiting the places and times of sale. For instance, whiskey and beer are limited to a certain level of alcohol content; the advertisement of cigarettes is prohibited or the use of these substances is only restricted to some indoor environments. Similar to the drugs prescription, there can be limitation on the purpose of using the substances and who uses them such as the minors even if these restrictions are not easily implemented as they can be announced. The prices of the substances or drugs can be regulated by the taxation system (Boyum, A. D, Caulkins, P. J and Kleiman, A. M).
The prohibition of drugs is less discriminating as it only threatens the buyers, sellers and the users rather than some people with various criminal penalties. It is also an expression of sentiments implying that the use of drugs is dangerous and wrong in it. Discrimination takes a middle ground as it gives threats to drug sellers but spares the users. Discrimination, regulation, taxation and prohibition will reduce the consumption of the drugs relative to the unrestricted commerce leading to the reduction of various crimes that are related to drug consumption pharmacology. Discrimination will lead to immergence of large black markets and the users will tend to make more purchases from the illicit markets. Regulation and taxation will result to small black market than discrimination and prohibition although a well implemented prohibition could result to smaller illicit drug businesses as compared to the poorly enforced taxation and regulation.
In the cases where the regulation or banning of drugs leads to illegal markets, violence among the dealers and disorderly environments around the retail markets is a likely consequence. Also, the enforcement of drugs poses competition for the limited criminal justice resources and leads to hostility between the citizens and the police. In the United States, drug enforcement also makes a major contribution to mass incarceration, a phenomenon that rivals crime itself as a social predicament. The use of some drugs carries some risks such as damage of health which leads to creation of serious problems. For instance, the drug control policies may lead to more crime as an undesirable side effect. Because of these reasons, some policy decisions must consider crime control and public health balancing with the sole aim of limiting abuse of drugs, incarceration and crimes (Boyum, A. D, Caulkins, P. J and Kleiman, A. M).
The science context and crime control policy
The degree to which the policy making us dome based on science and scientific research is a matter of concern. There exist two issues that concern the effect of science on the policy making. The first is the nature of the use of scientific research in making the crime control policies and the second is the contributions of the research to the establishment and development of the policy strategies and the respective interventions. In policy analysis, it should be believed that policy making is an objective and exclusive scientific venture and that the policy decisions should be based on rational analyses of competing strategies (Shahidullah, M. S., 2008).
In conclusion, the United States of America has and will continue to have serious crime problems. The public concern on the vague maunderings about the main causes as a substitute for serious actions and thoughts to control crime have thorough justifications. The costs of controlling crime are small relative to the uncontrolled crime's costs. The suffering due to incarceration will become tolerable if only the state's capacity was directed to the best crime control use. In fact the existing crime control policies are not doing well and they have more harm than expected. This is the right time for the American authorities to rethink the policies in the light of their knowledge and create new crime control policies that are likely to have desirable practical results or outcomes.
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