08 Oct 2009

How to Solve Chicago’s Violent Crime Problem

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If you want to ruin your day, check out this article from yesterday’s WSJ on the violence plaguing some of Chicago’s schools:

The videotaped beating death of a 16-year-old boy who wandered into a street brawl is focusing attention once again on how dangerous it is to be a teenager in Chicago.

An image from a video of the Sept. 24 attack on Chicago’s South Side that left Derrion Albert dead. Four teenage boys have been arrested.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder are expected to meet with local elected officials, students and parents Wednesday in Chicago. The trip signals that President Barack Obama’s administration may be taking a more active role in seeking solutions to a violence problem that has left 45 students dead in the past 12 months.

Derrion Albert, 16 years old, was beaten to death seven blocks from his school last month. A recording of the attack was posted online and widely viewed. Police have arrested four teenage boys in connection with the incident.

Between September 2008 and September 2009, 398 Chicago students were shot, said Monique Bond, a spokesman for the district. So far this school year, four students have been slain.

Now check this out. Look at how they analyze the problem, completely taking away any issue of personal responsibility and rendering this into something like a medical condition:

Mr. Huberman, a former police officer who was named CEO seven months ago, said the security plan was created by analyzing profiles of all the students shot over the past five years.

The most at-risk students have poor academic performance, miss more days of school and are more likely to be homeless and in special-education programs than other students, according to the report.

The analysis found that about 80% of the shootings involved students at 38 of 89 high schools in the district.

The 200 students assessed as being in the “ultra high risk” category were deemed to have greater than a 20% chance of being shot over the next two years. An additional 1,000 students had between a 7.5% and 20% chance of being shot, and an additional 8,500 had a 1% to 7.5% chance of being shot.

We all know what the “solution” is, right? Of course we do. Spend a bunch more money on things that haven’t worked in the past:

In response to the violence, Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools Ron Huberman last month announced a safety and security strategy that will target nearly 10,000 high-school students identified as at risk of becoming shooting victims. The project will connect some of them with mentors and part-time jobs in hopes of keeping the teens off the streets. The $30 million annual cost of the program will be paid for by federal stimulus grants.

So they’re going to spend $3,000 per “at-risk” student, per year, to counsel them on not getting shot. You can get body armor for half that price, in a one-shot transaction.

But more seriously, try this proposal: Instead of spending $3,000 per year, per kid, on counselors, job training, and so forth, they explain to each of the 10,000 at-risk students, “Look, from now on until you’re 21, at the end of every month we will give you $250 in cash. However, if there is ever a gun crime and the police tell us you were at the incident–even if you were uninvolved with the crime–then you forfeit your monthly cash payments from that point on.”

I am quite confident that the above program–which also costs $3,000 per kid, per year–would cut the death rate in that cohort of 10,000 kids far more than what the Chicago school system is going to do with its $30 million in “stimulus” money.

More generally, if you wanted to cut the murder rate among Chicago teenagers in half within six months, here’s how to do it:

(1) Eliminate the minimum wage.

(2) Legalize drugs, or at least, let it be known that the cops weren’t enforcing the drug laws.

(3) Don’t force kids to go to high school.

Yes, there are many results of the above three policies that many Americans would not like, but I guarantee you there would be far fewer 16-year-olds getting beaten to death walking home from school.

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