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.
Sending mental health workers as first responders to mental health issues is way better than sending workers with other specialities. This may sound obvious, but for decades in the USA and Canada we’ve been sending police (armed with guns) to help people in distress. Some cities in the USA have reallocated police funding to social workers with great success, and thanks to the efforts of movements like BLM more cities are following suit. New York City is one such city and unsurprisingly their results are similar to other cities where police have been defunded.
The movement to defund the police, then put those funds into social services is clearly working.
In 95% of cases, people accepted care from the B-HEARD team, data from the city shows. That’s compared with 82% for traditional 911 response teams, which include police.
Additionally, 50% of people treated by B-HEARD were transported to the hospital for more care, a far lower number than the 82% who are transported to the hospital with traditional 911 response.
Over at Vox they’ve collected a few solutions to problems that people may traditionally want to call the police for. It’s quite strange to call the police to help people in mental health crisis when the police are better equipped to take on armed bank robbers. It’s also strange that the police handle traffic violations while we also call them to investigate murder. It doesn’t have to be this way, we can do better and we know how.
People often decide to call the police because someone in their area appears to be intoxicated or in some kind of mental health crisis. One 2017 study of Camden, New Jersey, for example, found that 7 percent of calls were related to some mental or behavioral health need, according to the Center for American Progress (CAP).
But police are not trained to address mental health or substance use issues, and calling them can lead to a person in crisis being arrested and jailed, rather than getting the medical treatment they may need, as Amos Irwin and Betsy Pearl write at CAP. Several police killings in recent years â€” like the fatal shootings of Walter Wallace Jr. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York, last fall â€” happened when law enforcement officers encountered someone having a mental health crisis.
Instead of police, a growing number of cities have crisis response teams composed of social workers, counselors, and others trained to help people with mental health or substance problems. In Eugene, Oregon, for example, a program called Cahoots sends trained specialists to help people deal with crises involving mental health or substance use, and refers them to further services or treatment, as Roge Karma reported at Vox.
I find it baffling that the same organization which investigates murders also spends their time directing traffic. Others find this problematic too. Thanks to the strong efforts of Black Lives Matter over the past years (and in Canada let’s not forget Idle No More) calls to defund the police by reallocating funding to services which help people have grown substantially. Many cities are noticing vast improvements in their communities once they change which departments they fund, and now Ithaca is looking to do the same. The approach that Ithaca is taking may be one of the most noteworthy yet.
â€œIPD currently spends one third of its time responding to calls for service that essentially never lead to arrests,â€ Myrick writes in the reportâ€™s introduction. â€œThose calls, as well as a majority of patrol activity, can and should be handled by unarmed Community Solution Workers well trained in de-escalation and service delivery. This will allow our new Public Safety Workers to focus on preventing, interrupting and solving serious crime.â€
Now, heâ€™s investing his political capital in a plan that would remove armed officers from most civilian interactions, which he said should free those who remain to fully investigate and solve serious crimes. â€œThe investigators are going to be focused on the shooting last Tuesday, they will have nothing on their plate except finding that gun, finding that shooter and taking them off the street,â€ he said. â€œThey wonâ€™t be pulled away from that work by a motor vehicle crash on 3rd Street or a welfare check on Madison.â€
The city of Denver was already planning to limit the scope of the police before the calls for defunding gained momentum the start of this year. Denver accelerated their plans though, and the results are already so promising that other cities should start copying what Denver has done. Instead of sending out armed forces to help people cope with mental issues, the city is sending out mental health workers. This means that the people who need help are getting it, and the police can do something else.
Since its launch June 1, the STAR van has responded to more than 350 calls, replacing police in matters that donâ€™t threaten public safety and are often connected to unmet mental or physical needs. The goal is to connect people who pose no danger with services and resources while freeing up police to respond to other calls. The team, which is not armed, has not called police for backup, Sailon said.
â€œWeâ€™re really trying to create true alternatives to us using police and jails,â€ said Vinnie Cervantes with Denver Alliance for Street Health Response, one of the organizations that helped start the program.
Though it had been years in the making, the program launched just four days after protests erupted in Denver calling for transformational changes to policing in response to the death of George Floyd.
â€œIt really kind of proves that weâ€™ve been working for the right thing, and that these ideas are getting the recognition they should,â€ Cervantes said.