Therapy + Cash = Lower Crime


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.

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Best Tool to Fight Crime is Welfare

The best way to fight crime is to take away motivation to commit crime. It’s been proven time and time again that severe punishments don’t deter crime, so how can we creat conditions which ensure people don’t want to break the law. The solution is welfare.

Economists have proven that when people lose a social security system they turn to the easiest (most efficient) way to make up their losses: crime. Therefore we should fund welfare programs instead of thinking that funding the police will deter crime.

They found that terminating the cash welfare benefits of these young adults increased the number of criminal charges by 20% over the next two decades. The increase was concentrated in what the authors call “income-generating crimes,” like theft, burglary, fraud/forgery, and prostitution. As a result of the increase in criminal charges, the annual likelihood of incarceration increased by 60%. The effect of this income removal on criminal justice involvement persisted more than two decades later.

The researchers found that the impact of the change was heterogeneous. While some people removed from the income support program at age 18 responded by working more in the formal labor market, a much larger fraction responded by engaging in crime to replace the lost income. In response to losing benefits, youth were twice as likely to be charged with an illicit income-generating offense than they were to maintain steady employment.

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Former ICC Judge Wants to Criminalize Ecocide

Florence Mumba, a former judge of the International Criminal Court, is working hard to make ecological destruction a criminal act. Mumba and a whole team of international lawyers are focusing on getting legal definitions for ecocide and want to eventually charge people, governments, and corporations that commit massive ecological destruction. Small islands nations facing extinction due to climate change have called for this before, and so it’s really good to see that there is a concerted effort to put into international law the protection of our planet.

Sands said: “The time is right to harness the power of international criminal law to protect our global environment … My hope is that this group will be able to … forge a definition that is practical, effective and sustainable, and that might attract support to allow an amendment to the ICC statute to be made.”

Mumba, a judge at the Khmer Rouge tribunal and former supreme court judge in Zambia, said: “An international crime of ecocide may be important in that individual/state responsibility may be regulated to achieve balance for the survival of both humanity and nature.”

Jojo Mehta, the chair of the Stop Ecocide Foundation, told the Guardian: “In most cases ecocide is likely to be a corporate crime. Criminalising something at the ICC means that nations that have ratified it have to incorporate it into their own national legislation.

“That means there would be lots of options for prosecuting [offending corporations] around the world.”

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Solve the Global Housing Crisis by Recognizing Buyers

the suburbs

The cost of housing has skyrocketed since the banker-caused 2008 financial crisis and there are no signs of prices stabilizing. In Toronto we’ve seen the price of housing rise faster than wages and the same can be said for nearly every major city on the planet. A key reason this is happening stems from using housing as a commodity for money laundering. Yes, that’s right the cost of your house is higher because governments are letting criminals artificially inflate the market.

In the states, like elsewhere, housing can be bought by secretive numbered companies (which don’t disclose who owns what). So the American Treasury ran a very simple pilot project to stop money laundering through real estate by looking into these secretive buyers. They made insurance companies find out who actually owned companies that were buying luxury real estate in a few cities.

It also seems to have had an effect on the market. Since the scheme started, there has been an almost 70% drop in companies buying real estate with just cash, according to an academic paper published last year. Those figures suggest that “anonymity plays a significant role” in people using secretive shell companies to buy property, and money-laundering was a “likely cause” for wanting that secrecy, Ville Rantala, a finance professor at Miami Business School and co-author of the paper, told Quartz after the paper’s publication last summer.

This is more than just a moral issue—it has national security implications. Rantala pointed to Russians hit by sanctions after the Kremlin’s efforts to sway the 2016 presidential election. “If there are these kinds of loopholes, it’s hard to know whether people targeted by sanctions may be able to make purchases in the US—so there’s really cause to be concerned about anonymous buyers,” he said.

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The Panama Papers Worked

money

Tax evasion is a problem in every country and it’s up to teams of investigative journalists to expose mass illegal international operations. A few years ago the Panama Papers exposed an efficient tax dodging operation by a large group of wealthy people. The results of the exposure from the Panama Papers has led to millions being collects in countries with more results coming in.

Not only did the Panama Papers catch a bunch of criminals it also proves investigative journalism works.

More than a dozen people are in prison or awaiting sentencing in Ecuador, the United States and Panama for their roles in a bribery scheme at the Ecuadorian state petroleum company that was exposed in the huge document leak.

In South Korea, the leak led to bribery indictments against a former army general and a former executive of a major defence company.

And in Pakistan, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been serving a seven-year sentence after the Panama Papers revealed assets his family had hidden overseas. He is appealing his conviction, calling the charges against him politically motivated.

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