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Crime Prevention

Public Provision Of Justice

If we set out deliberately to design a system that encouraged criminal conduct and nurtured hardened career criminals, we could hardly do a better job.

Most people fail to appreciate the fundamental obstacles placed in the path of crime prevention by the perverse logic of public property, public law enforcement, and public imprisonment. 
Step one: start with public streets, sidewalks, and parks where every citizen must be permitted unless proved guilty of a crime. 
Step two: rely on an inherently inefficient public bureaucracy to catch, prosecute, and try those criminals against whom enough evidence of guilt exists. 
Step three: should they be convicted, subject criminals to the dangerous, unproductive, and sometimes uncontrollable setting of public prisons to prevent them from engaging in further misconduct. Step four: periodically release most prisoners back into the community and then return to step one and repeat the cycle.

The fact that public parks and streets are held in common adversely affects crime prevention in three important ways. 
First, little incentive exists for individuals to commit their private resources to prevent rights-violating conduct on so-called “public” or government-held property. There then appears no choice but to create an inherently inefficient coercive monopoly to provide “public” police protection. 
Second, when property is owned and administered by a central government, constitutional constraints on the government’s power to exclude citizens from using public property are needed to minimize abuses of power. For this reason, dangerous persons cannot be excluded from public property before they prey on victims. 
Finally, in the absence of a right to exclude from public property, great reliance is placed upon public imprisonment of criminals.

-- Randy Barnett


Quote 745

I would wager that the odds of a crime being committed by someone who has already committed a crime greatly exceed the odds of a crime being committed by one who has never committed a crime.

   --  Randy Barnett

Getting the balance right

Failure to effectively curtail criminal conduct will carry with it serious economic costs since increased crime causes rent receipts to decline. 
By the same token, discourtesy and overly restrictive crime control efforts can also cause lost business and bad will.