It’s a simple equation which may sound obvious to some and bizarre to others. Our current approach to crime focusses on punishment and repression, and that clearly doesn’t work given our current incarceration and recidivism rates. The good news is that simply providing people with a minimum amount to live on while also providing therapy is far cheaper and far better at dealing with crime. Instead of waiting for even more evidence that this approach works, let’s get it moving now.
A month after the intervention, both the therapy group and the therapy-plus-cash group were showing positive results. A year after the intervention, the positive effects on those who got therapy alone had faded a bit, but those who got therapy plus cash were still showing huge impacts: crime and violence were down about 50 percent.
But Blattman didn’t dare to hope that this impact would persist. Experts he surveyed predicted that the effects would steeply diminish over the years, as they do in many interventions.
So it was a great surprise when, 10 years later, he tracked down the original men from the study and reevaluated them. Amazingly, crime and violence were still down by about 50 percent in the therapy-plus-cash group.