Brookings: A Crime-Fighting Policy for Latin America and the Caribbean

Brookings: A Crime-Fighting Policy for Latin America and the Caribbean

In the 2017 Beneath the Violence: How Insecurity Shapes Daily Life and Emigration in Central America report, the Inter-American Development Bank estimated that Latin American and the Caribbean face a direct cost of $260 billion a year in crime and violence, or 3.6% of their GDP. This direct cost includes the social costs of imprisonment, victimization, private and public security, administration of justice, and incarceration. In a separate 2017 report, The Costs of Crime and Violence: New Evidence and Insights in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Inter-American Development Bank, demonstrated that Latin American and Caribbean countries’ crime-related costs are significantly higher than those of developed countries.

The writers of A Crime-Fighting Policy for Latin America and the Caribbean suggest that interventions that target experienced criminal leaders could reduce crime and violence, and therefore the costs, in the region. The authors developed a new theoretical model. This model includes two stages where someone decides whether to become a criminal or not and then how much crime s/he will commit if they decide to become a criminal. The theory assumes that a criminal’s best practices are learned from an experienced criminal leader. The closer that a young offender is to an experienced leader the more intense her/his learning on committing crimes will be. In addition, the closer s/he is to a more experienced criminal leader, the more willing s/he will be to imitate the leader. Therefore, the social distance between a youth and an experienced criminal leader affects the youth’s criminal decision-making.

The article suggests that policies that target experienced criminal leaders will have a large effect on crime and violence reduction in the region. However, it does not specify what the policies should entail. While removing experienced criminal leaders from the proximity of youths or vice versa, policy-makers must think of where they will be placed, what the implications will be, or if the policies will instead seek to reduce the desire for experienced criminal leaders to commit crimes.

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Autor:Carlos Díaz and Eleonora Patacchini
Categorías: Blogs
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