Does Crime Pay?
“Nobody goes out and commits a crime because they are hungry today,” stated New York’s Mayor Koch. “So why do people overwhelmingly commit crimes?” He continued: “Because you have better odds of not getting caught than you do at the race track. If you have 500,000 or more felonies committed, only 100,000 of them end in arrests and only 2 percent go to jail. Those are . . . good odds.”
OF COURSE, the opinion of Mayor Koch is only one aspect of a very complex problem—the causes of crime. Nevertheless, it is a valid point. If the criminal class in any country believe that there is little possibility of being caught, they are likely to continue in their lucrative career.
Often the basic motivation for crime is the desire for money. Stolen property is quickly turned into cash. And what is one of the biggest single cash movers in the world today? Here is a clue: “If there were one corporation marketing cocaine today in the United States, its $30 billion [$30,000 million] annual revenues would place it seventh among the Fortune 500 corporations.” (The New York Times) And that represents only one drug—cocaine! If we could combine all the money moved in all drug trading worldwide, the figure would be mind boggling. Crime and drugs are paying fat dividends to people all over the world. Drug millionaires are building expensive villas and luxury homes for themselves. For them, crime does pay. But how do they get away with it?
Why Does Crime Thrive?
Among the various reasons that crime thrives, one is fundamental—a flaw in the judiciary system of many countries. What is it? The Bible states: “It is because sentence upon a wicked act is not promptly carried out that men do evil so boldly.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11, The New English Bible) That ancient maxim is perhaps even more valid today, when in many parts of the world the slow legal process favors the criminal. One California lawyer stated: “One of the best defences is delay.” Memories dim and sometimes motivation to prosecute diminishes because of all the trouble caused to the victims.—See page 6, “The Criminal Injustice System.”
For many, crime is paying off—handsomely. And who pays the price? The general public does, especially the lower income levels of society who are the least protected. U.S. Senator D’Amato stated in a letter to fellow New Yorkers that there was a “small dent in the crime rate.” But he added: “We still dead bolt our doors. We still live in fear of going out at night, even to the grocery store or church or temple. When we do go out, we make sure to walk where there are plenty of people and, more and more, we make sure to carry some ‘mugging money.’ There are so many things to worry about now, things we never used to fear. Sometimes we are so afraid that we become prisoners, while those who should be locked up go free.”
But why do some turn to crime as a way of life? Are poverty, hunger, and unemployment the basic reasons?
[Box on page 6]
The Criminal Injustice System
The following comparison of the effects of a crime on a criminal and on his victim are based on a chart published in The Daily Oklahoman and prepared by Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mike Turpin.
Has a choice—to commit crime or not.
If he commits the crime, he may (1) be caught and arrested
(possibility, about one in five in the United States) (2) not be
caught and probably continue a life of crime.
1. Must be informed of his rights.
2. If injured while committing the crime or during his arrest,
he receives immediate medical attention.
3. Is provided with a lawyer if unable to afford one.
4. May be released on bail or own recognizance.
1. Is provided food and accommodation.
2. Books, TV, and recreation available.
3. Medical facilities, including drug and alcohol counseling,
are made available.
1. Is provided with state-appointed attorney.
2. Can plea bargain to obtain lesser sentence.
3. Can delay the trial and change its venue.
4. Can use various maneuvers to suppress evidence or get
5. If convicted (only 3 percent of crimes result in a
conviction), he can appeal.
1. May not go to prison—there are numerous alternatives.
1. If sent to prison, has free food and accommodation again.
2. Has access to all kinds of medical and psychological
treatment at state expense.
3. Can improve education and develop job skills.
4. Numerous rehabilitation programs available.
5. With good conduct and work, can get early release.
1. Aid programs and loans available.
Large proportion return to a life of crime.
Has no choice—involuntary victim of crime.
1. If injured, pays own medical and ambulance bills. Perhaps
carries psychological consequences for life.
2. Is responsible for replacing own property losses.
3. Is responsible for economic problems resulting from crime.
4. Loses time in cooperating with law-enforcement agencies.
5. Is generally not informed of progress of case.
1. Must arrange for and pay for own transport to court and
police offices. Work time and perhaps wages are lost.
2. Is still kept in the dark on case progress.
1. Again must arrange for and pay for transport and parking.
2. Must pay baby-sitter or other home costs.
3. Must recount the crime and be subjected to rigorous
cross-examination. He is just another piece of evidence.
4. The prosecuting attorney represents the state, not the
victim. Usually no restitution is demanded for the victim.
5. Has no right of appeal, even if criminal is released.
1. Has no say in decision, pleas, or sentencing.
2. Is often not even called for the sentencing.
1. Is often dissatisfied with criminal “justice” system.
2. Is in fear of released criminal(s) and retaliation.
3. Trauma may continue for rest of his/her life.
No longer respects a system that bends over backward to respect
the rights of the criminal but that ignores the needs of the
[Picture on page 5]
Drugs—one of the biggest single cash movers in the world today