Policy Briefs from the Justice Policy Institute

 

 

Education and Public Safety Policy Brief
8/29/07

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August 31, 2007

First of Four in New Policy Brief Series on Public Safety:
States that invest more in education have lower rates of violent crime and incarceration


Washington D.C.- The Justice Policy Institute today launches the first in a series of research briefs that examine the impact of positive social investments on public safety. "Education and Public Safety," one of four briefs, finds that states that invest more in education have lower rates of violent crime and incarceration. The upcoming briefs will examine the intersection of policies on housing, employment, and drug treatment with safety and crime rates.

Key findings from "Education and Public Safety" include:

Graduation rates were associated with positive public safety outcomes. Researchers have found that a 5 percent increase in male high school graduation rates would produce an annual savings of almost $5 billion in crime-related expenses.

States that had higher levels of educational attainment also had crime rates lower than the national average. Nine out of the 10 states with the highest percentage of population who had attained a high school diploma or above were found to have lower violent crime rates than the national average, compared to just four of the 10 states with the lowest educational attainment per population.

States with higher college enrollment rates experienced lower violent crime rates than states with lower college enrollment rates. Of the states with the 10 highest enrollment rates, nine had violent crime rates below the national average. Of the states with the lowest college enrollment rates, five had violent crime rates above the national average.

States that made bigger investments in higher education saw better public safety outcomes. Of the 10 states that saw the biggest increases in higher education expenditure, eight saw violent crime rates decline, and five saw violent crime decline more than the national average. Of the 10 states that saw the smallest change in higher education expenditure, the violent crime rate rose in five states.

The risk of incarceration, higher violent crime rates, and low educational attainment are concentrated among communities of color, who are more likely to suffer from barriers to educational opportunities. Disparities in educational opportunities contribute to a situation in which communities of color experience less educational attainment than whites, are more likely to be incarcerated, and more likely to face higher violent crime rates.

 

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Employment, Wages and Public Safety

 

 

September 30, 2007

 

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The Justice Policy Institute today launches the second in a series of research briefs that examine the impact of positive social investments on public safety. "Employment, Wages and Public Safety," one of four briefs, finds that increased employment rates and wages are associated with public safety benefits. The release of this brief corresponds with concerns about U.S. job losses and the small uptick in the national crime rate.

Key findings from "Employment, Wages and Public Safety" include:

Increased employment is associated with positive public safety outcomes. Researchers have found that from 1992 to 1997, a time when the unemployment rate dropped 33 percent, "slightly more than 40 percent of the decline [in overall property crime rate] can be attributed to the decline in unemployment."

Increased wages are also associated with public safety benefits. Researchers have found that a 10 percent increase in wages would reduce the number of hours young men spent participating in criminal activity by 1.4 percent.

States that had higher levels of employment also had crime rates lower than the national average. Eight of the 10 states that had lower unemployment rates in the United States also had violent crime rates that were lower than the national average. In comparison, half of the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates had higher violent crime rates than the national average in 2005.

The risks of incarceration, higher violent crime rates, high unemployment rates and low wages are concentrated among communities of color. Communities of color and African Americans, specifically, experience more unemployment and lower average wages than their white counterparts. At the same time, communities of color are more likely to experience higher rates of violence than are white communities, and African Americans are more likely to be incarcerated than are whites.

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Housing and Public Safety


11/1/07

 


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 November 1, 2007

The Justice Policy Institute, today, releases the third in a series of research briefs that examine the impact of positive social investments on public safety. "Housing and Public Safety," one of four briefs, finds that increased availability of quality, affordable or supportive housing is associated with public safety benefits. The release of this brief corresponds with concerns about the U.S. housing market and economic stability.

Key findings from "Housing and Public Safety" include:

Some studies found that substandard housing—particularly where exposure to lead hazards is more likely to occur—is associated with higher violent crime rates. Studies have shown that exposure to lead--associated with older, deteriorated and lower-quality housing--can result in increased delinquency, violence and crime.

For populations who are the most at-risk for criminal justice system involvement, supportive or affordable housing has been shown to be a cost effective public investment, lowering corrections and jail expenditures, thus freeing up funds for other pubic safety investments. Additionally, providing affordable or supportive housing to people leaving correctional facilities is an effective means of reducing the chance of future incarceration.

States that spent more on housing experienced lower incarceration rates than those states that spent less. Of the 10 states that spent the larger proportion of their total expenditures on housing, all 10 had incarceration rates lower than the national average. Of the 10 states that spent the smaller proportion of their total expenditures on housing, five states had incarceration rates above the national average (with two states having incarceration rates just below the national average).