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Seemingly Unrelated Things that Reduce Crime

There are a lot of theories when it comes to reducing crime. However, sometimes people stumble upon interesting things that reduce crime...even when they're not even trying.

1) Better factory car stereos

Ever wonder whatever happened to all those stories of car stereo thefts back in the 80s and 90s? Me too, we really don't hear much about it anymore. Most car thefts now a days involve GPS units and MP3 Players, or the entire car. But not so much the car stereos. According to an FBI's crime report, car stereos thefts dropped by more than half, even when car thefts stayed about the same.

Why is that?  Well, it turns out, it's all supply and demand. In an NPR story it is explained that In the late 1990s, car manufacturers decided to begin installing higher quality stereos in their vehicles right from the factory. This meant that fewer people wanted to buy higher end car stereos and install it, a lot of custom car stereo stops closed down which also lead to less stolen stereos being sold to them, and the problem pretty much just went away.

2) Requiring SSN when claiming dependents on taxes

 In 1987, 7 million children went missing. Did you're brain just explode? Probably not because of the title of this point. Here's what happened. In 1986 the federal government past legislation to require Social Security Numbers when claiming a dependant when filling for tax returns.

In 1987, when people began filing out their taxes, all those people who were just making up children that they were supposedly taking care of...coudln't list them anymore because they never existed in the first place. Which meant they had to pay higher taxes...or figure out a different way to cheat on them.

3) Black President

All crime has been dropping since the 90s, but one demographic doesn't follow the normal trends, crime among African Americans. Sometimes it drops, sometimes it increases. Many criminologists have studied this and have recorded that when most crime drops during an economic increase where everyone seems to be having an easier time, crime among African Americans can sometimes actually increase. For whatever reason, crime among African Americans deosn't follow over all trends of crime reduction. That is, until we got a black president. Ever since we elected a Barack Obama, crime among African Americans has been dropping as well. There may not be a way to prove this, though in an article publieshed on says some are looking into it, some experts are saying this is because he "provided such collective inspiration" that some might simply stop or reduce their criminal behaviors. This theory is an interesting one, especially when keeping this thought in mind when remembering all the vitriolic hate speech that was being used during the election and afterwards. Interesting because although some might dislike our president because of his skin color or race, it appears that simply because of those two things, crime has dropped.


4) Video games

With all these mass shootings, some people (some uneducated people) are saying that it's all because of the video games (and apparently not because of the gun in their hand...?).  Well, some research suggests that video games actually reduce crime even more than playing sports does.

This is a misunderstood topic, because there is actual research and evidence that shows that when children play video games, their aggression increases,. But this research was done in a lab in a controlled setting, so the conclusion by some politicians and others was made that outside of the lab they might turn into murdering psychopaths if given the chance. But, of course, this isn't the case.

Here's what research is finding. When children spend time playing video games...they're not doing other breaking the law.

There is even some evidence that playing video games reduce crime even better than being involved in sports, perhaps because they know they're less able to run away from the police.


5) Legalizing or Decriminalizing drugs

I know what you're thinking. "Well duh, if you take a way a rule or law, obviously 'crime' will drop because no one will be arrested for that one anymore."  But, as other countries begin to decriminalize drug addiction and treat it more as a health issue and treat the addiction, some have seen a dramatic reduction in crime among those addicts. Not just a reduction in arrests for drug abuse, but all types of crime.

This also helps with freeing up resources as the police will have more time to focus on other things like "burglaries, robberies, sexual assaults, domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, workplace and school shootings, drunk driving."

And there is a related consequence of illegal drug peddling, guns. An article published in LA Times and republished here, explains that criminals who sell are using guns as protection much more frequently now, up %60 compared to a decade ago.

If the harsher drugs were decriminalized, meaning, if say, a heroic addict were treated for the addiction instead of locked up as a criminal, and marijuana was legalized, there is strong evidence that other crimes and violence would significantly decrease.

Health care plays a part as well. The congressionally mandated five year, National Treatment Improvement Evaluation Study published on reports that "the impact of drug and alcohol treatment, concluded that treatment programs result in significant reductions in criminal activity. In particular, selling drugs declined by 78%, those who supported themselves through illegal activity 48% and arrests for any crime 64%."


6) Meditation

In 1993, about 4,000 people participated in study in Washington, DC.  The study was done by the National Demonstration Project. After controlling for variables like weather and police force changes, they found that when large groups of people all meditate together on a regular basis, not only does that reduce stress, but significantly reduce crime, up to 23%. The findings were so significant it was recommended that "policy makers are urged to apply this approach on a large scale for the benefit of society". I wonder who missed this memo?

I wonder if this applies to prayer or meditation on an individual basis, meaning, if a survey could do some research on people who regularly pray or medicate and see if those same people have an overall less propensity for crime. I'm guessing that's what we would see, but I can't prove it.

7) Hell

We all would like to think that a belief in God, a higher power, or faith would have us all reduce crime. And perhaps, that, coupled with medication/prayer might actually help (let's keep an eye out for that study someday).

However, apparently the belief in hell reduces crime. A study, published at, looked at 67 countries and compared them to each other and their beliefs in hell, found that those that had a stronger belief in hell, not just a higher power or heaven, but specifically a place called hell where "bad" people go, had less crime. 


8) Art

As education funding is dropping, and extra curricular funds get squeezed (but not football, we need football!), and music and art classes get cut from schools, a studies find that not only do  art programs reduce crime, but also reduce drop out rates and saves us money. The study published at says it better, I'll just quote some of their main points here.

  • In Portland, only 22 percent of the arts program participants had a new court referral compared to 47 percent of the comparison youth. The level and type of offenses committed during the program period were less severe than prior offenses.
    •  In Atlanta, despite the fact that the arts program participants had, on average, more court referrals than the comparison group at the start of the program (6.9 and 2.2 referrals, respectively), they had, on average, fewer court referrals during the program period than the comparison group (1.3 and 2.0 respectively). Moreover, a smaller proportion of the arts participants committed new offenses during the program period than the control group (50 percent vs. 78.6 percent).
    • In San Antonio, where the program focused on pre-adolescents (10 to 12 years of age), only 3.5% of participants committed a delinquent offense in the 22 months following program completion.
  • Costs:
    • Program Cost: ($ 3,851)
    • Crime Benefit: $ 5,500
    • Tax/Welfare Benefit: $ 160
    • Net Present Value: $1,809
    • Benefit/Cost Ratio: 1.47
      • Based upon the baseline values, quality arts education can return $1.47 in direct cost savings and additional revenue to the state for every $1 invested
  • "As illustrated, the cost of delivering arts programs could rise by nearly 50% and still provide a net benefit to the state—assuming all other values are held constant."
  • "This analysis demonstrates that the state can benefit directly, in financial terms, from an investment in arts education dramatically larger than it currently commits."

A radio show talking about juvenile justice reform can be listened to here on the website.

9) Ritalin

Yes, there is large debate on whether or not we're "over medicating" people, especially with the drug called Ritalin ...but maybe that's a good thing. Apparently, because of its calming effect, it not only helps people focus, but reduces their desire to commit crimes.

A study published on cites that Of 8,000 people whose medication use fluctuated over a three-year period, men were 32 percent less likely and women were 41 percent less likely to have criminal convictions while on medication. Patients were primarily young adults, many with a history of hospitalization. Crimes included assault, drug offenses and homicide as well as less serious crimes. Medication varied, but many took stimulants like Ritalin."

I'm not advocating we all go on Ritalin, but perhaps this is an issue of the chemical and brain related causes of crime. More studies should be done, but perhaps if the correct medication could be prescribed to repeat offenders of crime, along with proven rehabilitation methods and job placement, this could lead to more improved recitivism rates reduction. Or if nothing else, an increase in sales of Ritalin and a boom in the stock of the company who makes it.

For more weird things that reduce crime, take a look at this article.

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