As one who has also been a victim of a break-in, I am aware of the feeling of loss of security that Marc Fisher described in his May 15 Outlook piece [“My burglary was solved. Why is that so rare?”]. But Mr. Fisher’s call for officials to take such crimes seriously by “taking more burglars off the streets” illustrates a limited vision of what could be done to address these issues.
The primary reason that police and courts don’t have enough time to focus on property crimes is because of the enormous diversion of resources toward incarceration in recent decades. The 2.3 million people incarcerated in our prisons and jails represent a six-fold increase from the figure of 330,000 in 1972, and their incarceration costs taxpayers about $60 billion annually. While there is a growing consensus that this world-record rate of imprisonment is well past the point of diminishing returns for crime control, reductions in prison populations are only beginning to emerge in most states.