Crime does Pay. Not only does crime pay, it pays too well. Yes we have always been told that “crime does not pay”. But if we follow the money there exist an unlimited cash flow from one’s criminal activity to the economic bottom line of our cities, counties and the country.
Less than one hundred and fifty years ago the cash crop was “in cotton.” Today the cash crop is “incarceration.” I am reminded of our tour guide in Savannah, Georgia as she pointed to this one building and informed us of the significance of the building. This particular building in lovely Savannah shared in economic importance equal to another building in London as both had a major impact on “setting the price” of cotton. Cotton was not only “king” of the country’s economic engine but it was also the oil that kept the machine running that benefited the South, the North and the entire world to be honest. I can understand why President Lincoln said “…If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; …” More than one hundred and fifty years later the country still can not agree upon the moral and economic calamities that resulted in over 600,000 men being killed in a war that some called The Civil War and others called “The War Between the States. Breaking News…that war continues today but we call it “Red States” versus “Blue States” but that’s a story for another day.
Fast forward to today and review the country’s cash crop of “incarceration”. The news out of the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, can be echoed by anyone of our nation’s major cities. “Twenty three schools” to be closed as the city prepares to build a “new prison.” I recently read an article by Mayor Nutter, the mayor of Philadelphia, where he highlighted the number of murders in twelve US cities for a given year. The homicides for these twelve cities for exceeded the number of victims killed on 9/11. The mayor rightly compared how a plan of action by the nation has affected every aspect of our American lives since 9/11 as we combat terrorism at home and abroad. There has not been a plan of action nor is one forth coming as it relates to the “terrorism” black, brown, yellow and yes even whites experience on a daily basis as we are killed like sheep going to the slaughter. Why? I am glad you asked.
Count the numbers of jobs from the bailiff to the baker as it relates to one criminal act. Every act of crime necessities someone getting paid from security to sanitation. The inmates must be sheltered, clothed, fed and provided all the rights and liberties afforded as one is innocence until proven guilty. The average for incarceration cost more that $40,000 (after conviction) per person for a year (more for juveniles). This cost does not include the many victims of the crime and the societal cost associated with the loss of a love one. No wonder cities that use to fight “against” a prison being built within their city limits are now fighting “for” building a prison within their city limits.
Until the cost-benefit equation is addressed by the nation, the cash crop of incarceration will continue unabated as it was one hundred and fifty years ago with cotton. America, the home of the free was well vested in the slave traffic and the ills of this “peculiar institutions”. Thanks to the English voices of men like William Wilberforce, John Newton (Amazing Grace) and others, the moral condemnation of slavery was the catalyst that brought slavery to an end in England. Eventually the condemnation of slavery trickled down or cross over to America. The cost of a cotton based economy and slavery out weighted the benefits as the Union went from an agricultural society to an industrialized nation.
Crimes does pay and it pays very well. The three basic institutions, family, government and the church have failed to address this problem for various reasons (to be discussed later). The schizophrenic nature of our nation today is reflective of the same problem America faced over 150 years as the War Between the States or the Civil War was waged. The only difference is that the Civil War has become more “civil” (A Do Nothing Congress and the Red versus the Blue States.) The terrorist have only changed by using the ballot over the bullet and from using the “sheets” to the “tweets.”