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Crime and the recession… June 28, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This from today…

The falls in recorded crime seen across the Republic since the onset of recession have continued into 2013, with most crimes showing further decreases in the first three months of the year.

But what of this, also from the Irish Times (and thanks to the person who forwarded it to me), in relation to a Youthreach worker ‘spared jail’ for theft.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring imposed a three-year suspended term. “Financial crisis has brought an increase in the number of cases coming before us of people with no previous convictions, unlikely to offend again, who had been considered pillars of the community, but who committed theft,” she said.


1. Ciaran - June 28, 2013

And yet the prison population has gone up by something like 23% since 2008 (according to the POA I think?). It’s a funny reaction to a constant decrease in crime.


WorldbyStorm - June 28, 2013

Great point, how is this explained away?


2. richotto - June 29, 2013

I don’t know but it makes sense that if you are incarcerating for longer more people who are likley to commit crimes that crime goes down. There is no neccessary correlation between the two statistics.


hardcorefornerds - June 29, 2013

I recall noted crimonologist Dan O’Brien making that argument about a year ago. There probably is some truth to it, although like any statistic it’s about context and interpretation: obviously people cannot commit crimes (in the general population at least – not including violence or drug dealing within prisons) while locked up, so the more and longer prison sentences given, the less recidivism there may be at any one time. but that has a huge social cost, and is generally not effective in terms of rehabilitation; so, like the supposed effect of public debt, aren’t we just holding back a recidivism (and general crime/social) problem for future generations? plus the current financial cost of running the prisons, or of expanding them so as to make conditions decent or humane, which falls on current and future taxpayers.

I wonder how the decline in reported crime breaks down with respect to detections and convictions, and if perhaps more opportunistic/desperate ‘petty’ crimes (theft) are simply more likely to lead to court cases.


3. richotto - June 29, 2013

I would agree that the problem is being supressed rather than resolved with a more penal policy. Ultimately on that scale you would get to the situation in the US which accounts for a quarter of the worlds prisioners with only 5% of its population but which since the 1990s seems to have steadily forced down crime despite a most unequal and unjust society. The cost issue is addressed by making the prisioners do forced labour for 25 cents an hour. A lot of military equipment like body armour is supplied by this forced labour. The conviction rate is also an improbable 98% so the system has a terrorising effect. The Uk and ourselves seem to be going down this route to some extent more so than continental north Europe at least.


4. stats or nonsense - June 29, 2013

Okay here comes a bit where I play at statistics and follow the thread where it goes. Might not get it right but fun to try think it through. Maybe a brain fart maybe not.

Does it not have to be the case that in order for incarceration to decrease the number of criminals to such an effect the crime rate it would either then
(a) have to be within a generally closed population group; or
(b) in the instance that its not a closed population group but a very open group (modern EU) it would require:
i that the rate of incarceration of nationals committing crimes would be higher than the replacement rate of non-nationals who must be reasonably statistically estimated as likely to commit crime, and
ii that the ability of the Gardai to detect and prosecute may have rocketed high enough to offset the variance in the pool of to use a victorianism criminal types.

So does outward migration then represent a factor if b(i) is likely and statisitcally it has to hold true. Are Irish and non-Irish criminals then leaving in numbers that affect the crime rate. Which might hint that people committing crimes or likely to commit crimes are emigrating more than others. (Natural enough you might say if you regard poorer people being in a situation where crime can become the last option. But then if I say that I must similarly argue that the persons who in-migrated for economic reasons were statistically more criminal or potentially criminal than either their respective home population or our population. )

Does it mean instead that Alan Shatter and the guards have somehow managed to create a situation of deterrence ?

or maybe the stats are misleading. Thats possible but its not very explanatory and could be simply a way to ignore the discussion.


5. richotto - June 29, 2013

On the migration and crime issue, in Italy which seems to be the most affected I’ve seen figures mentioned in mainstream news reports saying that 75-90% of the prision population are migrants.


WorldbyStorm - June 29, 2013
6. richotto - June 29, 2013

T”he number of immigrants in Italian prisons is also well above the European average, comprising 35.6 percent of all prison inmates.”

Thanks for the correction.


WorldbyStorm - June 29, 2013

“All these people should have access to non-custodial sanctions,” Favero argued.

But in 2012 less than 20,000 people incarcerated in Italy were serving their sentence outside a prison, far less than the EU average: in 2009 Spain, Germany and France could boast 111,000, 120,000 and 123,000 people respectively taking advantage of alternatives such as pecuniary fines, community service and house arrest for lesser crimes, as well as medical treatment for drug addiction. In England and Wales the number was closer to 200,000.

Both the Council of Europe and the ECHR have both called on Italy to look at other alternatives to incarceration because they believe they’ve putting too many people in prison.


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