Recommended ReadsDecember 21st, 2021
An experimental Covid response led to long-term improvements to the justice system
As the pandemic ramped up last year, some US counties were worried about the spread of Covid in prisons. To reduce overcrowding, they temporarily stopped prosecuting people for minor non-violent crimes (drug possession, disorderly conduct, shoplifting).
What happened? Well, no surprise, crime rates dropped suddenly. Which doesn’t mean folks stopped doing these things – only that they weren’t being prosecuted for them. But what’s interesting is that it wasn’t just those nonviolent crime rates that dropped. Violent crime dropped 20 percent too, and property crime dropped 36 percent.
And 39% fewer people were funnelled into the criminal justice system.
It was so successful that some counties are now implementing the policy permanently. David Byrne (as in, Talking Heads David Byrne) interviews the authors of one of the studies here – it’s well worth the read.