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April 22, 2008

« The Consigliere | Main | Global Marshall Plan »

An innovative analysis by Eric Cadora highlights "million-dollar blocks" -- individual city blocks where more than one million dollars per block per year are spent to incarcerate individuals from that block.  Some blocks cost over five million dollars per year...A million dollars, coincidentally, is roughly what it would cost to pay for one patrol officer, twenty-four hours a day, every day for one year.

Via Tyler Cowen, here. Does it even surprise you?

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Comments

Matt L.

I'd say a boosted police presence is the wrong thing to spend it on. (Isn't the patrol officer just going to make more arrests?) A million bucks per block buys you a whole lot of targeted social services: job placement, addiction programs, libraries, and childcare to help single moms get back into the workforce.

John F.

Obvious issues (having not read the original analysis):

1) Addressing "root causes" for residents of a given neighborhood doesn't prevent them from committing crimes elsewhere.
2) Increasing police presence in high-incidence neighborhoods will prevent some crime but merely displace the rest.
3) The costs of imprisonment are borne at the State and Federal level, whereas the cost of policing is largely locally borne, so the cost-benefit analysis is unlikely to inform public policy.

hayden fisher

We need to blend police protection to assure short-term security (Katrina taught us what happens in the absence of police order) and address the systemic issues that yield this kind of crime in the long-term. And we need to reserve prisons for only the violent criminals. BUT more than anything we need to RAISE these concentration camps (housing projects) and sprinkle federal housing across broad spectrums of communities. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to house all the poorest and most destitute together and walk away. It could be argued that the federal housing projects were incipient efforts to resist integration policies and the civil rights movement.

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