Facial Recognition Software: Coming Soon to Your Local Retailer?

Facial recognition software has been in use for more than a decade. As it gets cheaper, retailers and many smaller police departments are eyeing it as a viable tool for targeting shoplifters; but how will privacy concerns be addressed? 

Shoplifting is harmless, right? It’s nothing more than a victimless petty crime.

Besides, it doesn’t really hurt the retailers because they just write off their losses. Shoplifters don’t even face jail time.

If you believe these so-called “facts,” you are buying into the myths surrounding shoplifting that have very little to do with the reality of the crime.

Consider this. According to the National Retail Federation, the loss of inventory from retail stores due to shoplifting and employee theft costs the U.S. retail industry nearly $48.9 billion a year. Moreover, the average cost per shoplifting incident is $798.48.

That’s not exactly “petty.”

According to the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention, there are approximately 27 million shoplifters – one in every 11 people – in our country today. More than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the last five years, but shockingly, only one in 478 shoplifters are ever caught and only half of those are turned over to the police for prosecution.

Especially troublesome is the fact that 10 percent of the total dollar losses due to shoplifting are attributable to “professional” shoplifters who steal solely for resale or profit as a business. These include hardened criminals who steal as a lifestyle, international shoplifting gangs who steal for profit, and drug addicts who steal to feed their habit.

That last group is particularly worrisome, given the escalating rate of opioid addiction in the US.

It is estimated that more than two million Americans are now addicted to prescription pain killers, while nearly 600,000 have a substance-use disorder involving heroin. People addicted to these drugs often steal from large retail stores with the intent of returning the stolen merchandise (with no receipt) for a gift card which they can then resell for cash.

While there is no nationwide research showing the connection between opioid addiction and shoplifting, many police departments have direct experience with it. The Knoxville, TN police department found that almost 85 percent of drug overdoses in a three-month window in 2017 were linked directly to gift cards.

Given those staggering numbers, is there anything retailers and the police can do to stem the tide of shoplifting?

Increased on-site security is one option, but many retailers aren’t in a position to pick up the tab. According to the Department of Labor, the average cost for a two-person security team patrolling a typical anchor store in a suburban mall is $51,000 per year – approximately 12.5 percent of total operating costs. 

Increasingly, though, police—along with some retailers—are turning to a technology solution that has demonstrated its effectiveness in cracking down on criminals: facial recognition software. Starting last year, a number of retailers across the country began displaying signs to inform customers that management is using facial recognition software, turning the store into a certified safe zone.

While facial recognition software has been in use for more than a decade, retailers and many smaller police departments only began to consider it as a viable tool for targeting shoplifters in the past year or two as prices have dropped.

Facial recognition software works by using image processing and machine learning algorithms to match a photo of an unidentified person (“probe” photo) against a database of photos of identified persons who previously have been convicted of shoplifting or other crimes. The face-identification algorithms in the software will produce a list of possible matches, with each match having a score that indicates the quality or likelihood of a match.

In the past, low resolution, poor lighting, motion blur, off-angle faces, facial hair, and other scenarios have challenged these algorithms to produce a good match. Advances in the technology based on algorithms such as “deep learning,” however, have produced significant gains when processing challenging probe photos.

Despite such advances, even the best facial recognition systems are unlikely to generate just a single match from something like a store security camera photo. Instead, the system will generate a list of possible matches. The police working the case will then need to use standard investigative methods to either rule out or further investigate each match, just as they would with any investigative lead.

In other words, the software isn’t doing anything that wouldn’t occur during a normal police investigation. It is simply doing what investigators would do, but faster and with a higher degree of accuracy.

It is equally important to note that the way in which facial recognition software is currently deployed offers little threat to privacy concerns and limited potential for abuse. Most systems immediately discard images of anyone who isn’t a match for a known shoplifter.

Lack of information or even misinformation, however, can cause a reaction on the part of the public. Could the retailer, for example, collect information on everyone who walks into the store, their buying habits, and so on?

Worse still, could that information be sold to others? As a result, it is important for retailers and law enforcement to fully understand the spectrum of possible uses of the technology, as well as how the public may perceive those uses.

Facial recognition software has the potential to change the rules of retail, generating leads in a great many cases that might otherwise go unsolved. And while each case may not be high profile, in aggregate they represent a staggering amount of criminal activity.

Given that, stopping even a single shoplifter could prevent tens of thousands of dollars in future theft.

Nick Coult

Nick Coult

Nick Coult is Senior Vice President for Law Enforcement and Public Safety at Numerica Corporation. He is one of the creators of Lumen, a platform for law enforcement search, analysis, and data sharing. Numerica is currently beta-testing a version of their Lumen software called Lumen FR, which integrates next-generation facial recognition algorithms directly into Lumen. Numerica anticipates that Lumen FR will be available by early summer. Readers’ comments are welcome. For more information, visit https://www.numerica.us/ 

from https://thecrimereport.org

Baltimore Tries ‘Violence Reduction Zones’

The idea is to put more police officers and ramped-up city services in the most crime-ridden areas. If it works, will crime just move elsewhere?

In Baltimore’s most crime-ridden zones, officials are conducting an experiment in government. They started by targeting four small, deeply troubled areas to be flooded with more police patrols and city services. They called them “Transformation Zones,” at first, then rebranded them as “Violence Reduction Zones.” They’ve since added three more zones, bringing the total to seven, reports the Baltimore Sun. Each zone gets several dedicated police officers, called Neighborhood Coordination Officers, and an extra focus across city government for ramped-up services. Mayor Catherine Pugh has put $1.6 million in the city’s budget for two “rapid response” crews from the Department of Public Works to clean up these areas quickly, three more housing inspectors to enforce code violations such as peeling lead paint and extend hours at local recreation centers.

The idea is that if it can be rightly said that these areas were for far too long over-policed and under-served — and if this punitive style of government did not produce lasting crime declines — then officials should try the opposite: The zones should be drowning in services, from job training to street cleaning. If the approach can improve the most neglected parts of Baltimore, the theory goes, officials should be able to create a domino effect that will spread the transformation outward to neighboring areas, and eventually the city as a whole. “If you can drive crime down in the most violent areas,” Pugh says, “you can drive down crime all over the city.” There’s a concern: As police and politicians increase patrols and offer more needle exchanges and rec center programs, they acknowledge, some of the crime they’re suppressing is simply moving to other parts of the city.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Uber to Do Annual Background Checks on Drivers

The ride-hailing company will also constantly monitor criminal arrests to keep its riders safe. The changes were announced by a new CEO.

Uber will do annual criminal background checks on its U.S. drivers and hire a company that constantly monitors criminal arrests as it tries to keep riders safe, the Associated Press reports. The move announced Thursday is one of several actions taken by the ride-hailing company under new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who said that the changes aren’t being done to polish the company’s image, which has been tarnished by driver misbehavior and a long string of other embarrassing failings. “The first thing that we want to do is really change Uber’s substance, and the image may follow,” he told AP.  “The announcements that we’re making are just a step along the way of making Uber fundamentally safer for drivers and riders.”

Other features include buttons in the Uber app that allow riders to call 911 in an emergency, as well as app refinements that make it easier for riders to share their whereabouts with friends or loved ones. Since it started in 2009, Uber has been dogged by reports of drivers accosting passengers, including lawsuits alleging sexual assaults. Last year the company was fined $8.9 million by Colorado for allowing people with serious criminal or motor vehicle offenses to work as drivers. The state found nearly 60 people were allowed to drive despite previous felony convictions or major traffic violations, including drunken driving. Khosrowshahi, formerly CEO of the Expedia travel booking site, replaced hard-charging co-founder Travis Kalanick in August and faced problems almost from the start. He has had to grapple with his company’s autonomous vehicle program after one of its SUVs struck and killed a pedestrian last month in Tempe, Az. Uber does 15 million trips per day worldwide, and its drivers “reflect the good and the bad and the random events of the world,” Khosrowshahi said.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Predicting School Violence, Mass Shooters and Violent Crime

Questions Can we predict school or mass shooters? Can we predict future violence? Can we predict criminals who will re-offend and return to the criminal justice system? Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for […]

The post Predicting School Violence, Mass Shooters and Violent Crime appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

Questions Can we predict school or mass shooters? Can we predict future violence? Can we predict criminals who will re-offend and return to the criminal justice system? Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for […]

The post Predicting School Violence, Mass Shooters and Violent Crime appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

from https://www.crimeinamerica.net

California’s DNA Ruling Helps Fight Crime, Victims Say

Privacy advocates say California’s Supreme Court justices put citizens’ most personal info at risk when they rejected an appeal Monday to strike down a law requiring all arrested individuals to provide DNA samples. Supporters of the ruling say concerns about the law, similar to statutes now in effect in 30 states, are overblown.

Ashley Spence was 19 when she was brutally raped, and almost killed, by an attacker who broke into her apartment at Arizona State University.

There was a pillow over her face the entire time, and afterwards the perpetrator got away, free to commit more heinous crimes.

The case remained unsolved for seven years until one day, the same man was charged with resisting arrest while breaking into another woman’s apartment. He was taken into the police station, and the inside of his cheek was swabbed for DNA. It matched the DNA found in Ashley’s rape kit.

Arizona is one of 30 states and the federal government that authorize the analysis of DNA samples collected from individuals arrested or charged, but not convicted, for certain crimes, reports the The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Privacy advocates say the practice represents a violation of constitutionally protected rights and is part of an escalating trend in business and government to gather personal information. But one of the first major legal tests of the law failed this week in California.

California’s Proposition 69, passed in November 2004, required anyone arrested for a felony–even if they were not charged or convicted–to provide a sample of their DNA, for storage in CODIS, a database that collects federal, local and state forensics.

On Monday, the California Supreme Court, in a narrow 4-3 ruling, rejected an appeal to declare the law unconstitutional.

Spence was relieved. As far as she was concerned, Proposition 69 was how they tracked down the man who brutally assaulted her.

“You can have all the evidence there in the rape kit, but if you don’t have the arrestee’s DNA, you don’t have a match,” she told The Crime Report.

Spence noted that in some states with DNA requirements, a sample is only taken when someone is arrested for a violent crime.

The problem with that, she said, is you don’t know if the alleged perpetrator [of a less violent offense] will go on to commit more serious crimes.

 “If that hadn’t happened to the man who assaulted me, many more women could’ve been raped,” she said.

Source: NCSL

But opponents argue that the DNA-testing mandates are not just personally invasive; they disproportionately affect people of color who are more statistically likely to be hauled in by police on suspicion of committing a crime—even if they are eventually released.

Immigrant advocates, lawyers and civil rights groups say the portable technology used for DNA testing makes authorities more likely to use it on individuals who are already under police surveillance. A wide range of documented and undocumented immigrants have had their personal data entered into the FBI’s massively expanding identification database, according to The New Republic.

That was the stance Justice Goodwin Liu took this week on the Proposition 69 ruling.

“The fact that felony arrests of African Americans disproportionately result in no charges or dropped charges means that African Americans are disproportionately represented among the thousands of DNA profiles that the state has no legal basis for retaining,”Justice Liu stated. 

The more liberal justices in the ruling wanted to strike down the DNA program they said affects thousands of innocent people each year, mainly African Americans.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in California declined to comment.

Mary Ross, president of Californians for Consumer Privacy, said the DNA law should worry anyone concerned about the growing evidence that personal data was no longer private.

Citing the recent disclosures that the personal information of millions of Facebook users was scraped by companies seeking to use it for political campaigns, she said the DNA case was one more example of the need to be transparent about the information being collected and what it was used for.

“There’s a whole industry of businesses who collect information and compile [it] in electronic documents and sell it,” she said in an interview. “You can buy lists of rape victims, stuff that should never be for sale, but it’s all advertised.”

Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar appeared to share this perspective in his dissent from the ruling. He wrote that the majority decision overlooked the importance of “heightened privacy protections” in California’s constitution.

“The DNA Act unlawfully invades people’s reasonable expectation of privacy in their personal genetic information,” he said.

Justice Cuéllar believed the “reasonable” way to go about collecting information that may assist criminal investigations, while protecting the privacy of individuals, is to use less-intrusive means. He used the example of taking fingerprints which gives only a few data points to identify a perpetrator, whereas DNA provides a whole raft of additional and extraneous information, particularly about an individual’s health.

Supporters of the law say such fears are overblown.

The DNA entered into the system being used today is a numerical ID, with only 20 markers of DNA—not enough to reveal one’s race, eye color, hair color or other defining personal characteristics, said Jayann Sepich, founder of DNA saves.

“I wish people took the time to understand and educate themselves on DNA testing,” observed rape victim Ashley Spence.

“If they did, I believe they would feel differently.”

Not only can DNA testing be used to prevent further crimes, but it can help exonerate the innocent, Spence argued.

Jayann Sepich, who lost her daughter Katie to a brutal rape and murder in 2003, makes a similar point. People who are innocent won’t go to prison just because their DNA was taken at the time of a felony arrest, she said in an interview.

But having their DNA on file might prevent criminals from escaping detection long after they committed horrible crimes.

Sepich’s daughter Katie was 22 when she was abducted, raped, killed, set on fire and then dumped in the desert. The man who attacked her had her skin and blood under his fingernails.

But the Sepich family waited three years and three months until they found their daughter’s killer. His DNA had been swabbed too many years after his felony arrest.

“If we had an arrestee law when our daughter was murdered, we would’ve got him in less than 90 days,” Sepich lamented.

John Case, a business lawyer in Los Angeles, said opponents of the DNA law were in effect fighting a losing battle. Consumer privacy is breached every day using websites such as Facebook and Google, he said The Crime Report.

“They’re all putting our privacy at risk,” Case maintained. “Whether that’s being used to target white people, non-white people, people with whatever political viewpoint—those risks exist,” he said.

Supporters of Proposition 69 said DNA offered a crucial way of finding and stopping repeat lawbreakers who posed a danger to society.

“If you’ve committed a crime and you are found guilty, we should be able to get info from you to see if you have committed other crimes, regardless of race” said Betsy Butler, Executive Director at California Women’s Law Center. 

“I don’t know a less invasive way to track criminal behavior,” she contended. “If you haven’t done any crimes you won’t be in the system.”

Megan Hadley is a reporter for The Crime Report. She welcomes readers’ comments.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Where Do the Guns Come From?

The current gun debate has focused on background checks for legal firearms purchases. But gun violence is often committed by criminals who obtained their weapons illegally, according to podcasters who talked with youths and with researcher Philip J. Cook of Duke University about Chicago’s flourishing underground gun market.

“Oh, it’s not hard to use a gun. All you got to do is pull the trigger,” says Samuel.

Samuel, a former Chicago gang member, grew up in the Henry Horner Homes, a housing project in Chicago. In a recent podcast of Ways & Means, he agreed to discuss his life with guns, using an alias that would allow him to talk freely.

Guns were easy to obtain when he was a youngster, Samuel told us. Adults would shoot dice in front of the building, and he would offer to hold their guns. Sometimes he’d be sitting on a nearby bench with 10 guns on him.

“I had them all around my waist, in my pants pocket,” he says. He’d lean back in his seat, loaded with guns, as if to say, “Just look at me now.”

At the time, he was only 11 or 12 years old.

“Holding a gun … it’s power,” he says. “To see the gangsters in the neighborhood, I wanted to be a reflection of them.”

Pretty soon, Samuel had his own gun. At first, he would climb to the roof of the project, 15 floors up, and shoot towards the sky. But before he turned 15, Samuel had shot someone – and been shot himself.

When he was 20, Samuel was convicted of murdering a rival gang member.

None of this would have happened, Samuel says now, if he had not had such easy access to guns.


Philip J. Cook, a professor emeritus at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, is one of the top researchers on the costs and consequences of the widespread availability of guns in America. For one study, his team conducted interviews with inmates at Chicago’s Cook County Jail.

Philip J. Cook

Philip J. Cook

They asked 99 inmates a simple question: where do you get your guns?

And the research is clear: while policymakers argue about background checks for legal gun purchases, criminals, for the most part, are not getting guns through legal means. Most of the young men the researchers consulted couldn’t have legally owned a gun, either because they were too young, or because they already had criminal records.

The young men definitely didn’t have an Illinois Firearm Owners’ ID card. Instead, most of the men said they got the gun from someone they knew.

Samuel agrees. In his Chicago neighborhood, he says he had access to a huge variety of guns: shotguns, handguns, carbines, even Uzis. And there were plenty of people around who could get him any kind of gun he needed, even when he was underage.

“It’s very easy,” he remembers. “I mean, just like you go and order beer, you go ask one of your gang members and say you need a gun. And being that they’re much older than you, they knew exactly where to go get the guns from.”

But even though it was relatively easy to get guns, gang members, for the most part, aren’t really in the business of selling guns— especially to outsiders, researchers say.

“They might acquire guns and keep them in the stash and pass them around within the membership, but this was not a business proposition for them,” Cook says.

Inmates who were interviewed for the study even said they conducted street-level “background checks” before selling guns to someone they didn’t know.

Editor’s Note: Prof. Cook and other researchers discussed the “underground gun market” at last month’s H.F. Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America. Watch the panel here.

The widespread ease of access to guns—all kinds of guns—matters.

Because even though gun rights advocates argue that it’s people who kill people—not guns who kill people—Cook says his research is clear: the choice of weapon often determines if a victim lives or dies.

Emily Hanford

Emily Hanford

“There are no drive-by knifings,” Cook told us. “The type of weapon matters a lot … People who resist the idea that that the type of weapon matters take the view that whether the victim lives or dies is simply a reflection of the intention of the assailant.

“(They argue that) if the assailant is deprived of a high-powered pistol, for example, then they’ll make do with some other type of weapon and do whatever is necessary to see the job done. And that is a myth. It’s a belief based on no evidence, and every bit of evidence we have would point in the other direction.”

Cook’s research shows lawmakers do have the power to stop the flow of guns into urban neighborhoods like the one Samuel grew up in. For example, laws designed to regulate legal gun sales can significantly affect the underground market.

After Maryland passed a Firearm Safety Act in 2013, 41 percent of surveyed parolees in the state reported that it was more difficult to get a handgun. And a study of over three decades of data on handguns recovered in Boston shows that fewer guns are illegally obtained from states where people are restricted to legally buying just one gun a month.

Cook also advocates for a change in the way law enforcement deals with guns when they make an arrest.

Carol Jackson

Carol Jackson

“When a dangerous person gets picked up and has a gun, there needs to be a lot of questions asked about where that gun came from,” Cook says.

He argues that if detectives spent time tracking the history of the gun, law enforcement might ultimately be able to arrest the person who sold that gun, and presumably other guns, into the underground market.

Soon, Cook says, law enforcement could begin to chip away at the stream of guns getting into the wrong hands.

This story originally appeared as an episode from the Ways & Means podcast which offers bright ideas for how to improve society. Readers are invited to listen to the entire episode, and subscribe.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Anti-Violence Program ‘Roca’ to Start in Baltimore

The target group is young men in their late teens and early 20s who have already come into contact with the criminal justice system. Roca’s service workers work with law enforcement, as well as parole and probation officers, to identify the offenders who are the most at-risk, the ones least likely to accept help from other programs.

A majority of urban crimes are committed by a small slice of the population. Between half and three-quarters of all killings and shootings occur within about three to five percent of any city’s blocks. A little more than half of all homicides are committed by one percent of the population, according to FBI data. In recent decades, as cities have focused their efforts on reducing crime, many have launched anti-violence programs aimed at zeroing in on the small handful of residents most likely to commit those crimes, Governing reports. Those include efforts such as Project Longevity in New Haven, Ct., and New York City’s Man Up, which was modeled after Chicago’s Operation Ceasefire, a program that uses violence interrupters to reduce the number of retaliatory violence in the city.

Sometimes, those kinds of initiatives aren’t enough. That’s where something like Massachusetts’ Roca program comes in. Roca, which means “rock” in Spanish, is a unique type of crime-intervention program that focuses in on the riskiest of at-risk residents, the community’s most troubled young men who won’t take part in other programs and are the most resistant to change. Roca is launching its first out-of-state location in one of the nation’s highest-crime cities: Baltimore. The Maryland city has been reeling from more than 1,000 homicides committed over the past three years. Its new Roca program — a $17 million, four-year commitment — is slated to begin this summer. The target group for Roca is young men in their late teens and early 20s who have already come into contact with the criminal justice system. Roca’s service workers work with law enforcement, as well as parole and probation officers, to identify the offenders who are the most at-risk, the ones least likely to accept help from other programs.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Louisville Buisiness Group May Invest in Crime Fighting

A group of executives assembled by Humana co-founder David Jones Sr. could help pay for Louisville initiatives aimed at curbing the homicide rate. The group may invest in “Cure Violence,” which hires neighborhood “violence interrupters.”

A group of executives assembled by Humana co-founder David Jones Sr. could help pay for Louisville initiatives aimed at curbing the homicide rate, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. “There has been an interest among many leaders in that room about where the city can improve as it relates to crime,” said Jennifer Hancock of Volunteers of America. The Steering Committee for Action on Louisville’s Agenda (SCALA) has been meeting with city officials to better understand the city’s violence intervention strategies. Hancock is co-chair of a subcommittee on public safety for the group, which includes 70 business, faith and nonprofit leaders from across the city. “If there are funding shortfalls because of grants or government support, is this a group that could come forward with resources that could further some of these interventions,” she said.

The city’s safe neighborhoods director, Rashaad Abdur-Rahmann, plans to talk to the group about Louisville’s Cure Violence model, which seeks to reduce neighborhood violence by treating crime like an infectious disease, according to Mayor Greg Fischer’s office. “I want to make it clear to this group that if we’re talking about public safety we’re talking about a comprehensive approach,” Abdur-Rahmann said. “That means engaging youth, community building and connecting people with resources of support. But we’re not looking at an incarceration model.” Cure Violence, a program started in Chicago, has people work as “violence interrupters” to de-escalate neighborhood tensions before they turn into clashes. In Louisville, the Metro Council allocated about $550,000 last year to hire about a dozen people — mostly reformed drug dealers, gang members and convicted felons with street credibility — to go into high-crime areas to help calm tensions.

from https://thecrimereport.org

New Mayors Group to Reject ‘Tough-on-Crime’ Tactics

Ten mayors have joined with the Center for American Progress advocacy group to launch a new national initiative called Mayors for Smart on Crime. They say they are committed to pursuing what they call “a fair, equitable, and comprehensive approach to public safety and criminal justice reform.”

Ten mayors have joined with the Center for American Progress advocacy group to launch a new national initiative of city leaders committed to pursuing what they call “a fair, equitable, and comprehensive approach to public safety and criminal justice reform.”

Mayors for Smart on Crime brings together mayors from cities of varying sizes and from different regions to present a voice for Smart on Crime principles, and reject “tough on crime” approaches that the mayors say are “short-sighted, ineffective, and disproportionate in their effect on black and Latino communities.”

The mayors taking part are Bill de Blasio of New York City, Jenny Durkan of Seattle, Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, In., Michael Hancock of Denver, Jim Kenney of Philadelphia, Michael Tubbs of Stockton, Ca., Marty Walsh of Boston, Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, Nan Whaley of Dayton, Oh., and Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, Al.

Freeman-Wilson said, “As a former attorney general, judge, and deputy prosecutor, I have seen the criminal justice problem from every angle. If we continue to use law enforcement centered solutions, we will get the same mixed results and we will continue to lose valuable human potential.”

Philadelphia’s Kenney said the group would be “standing up against the divisive Trump administration policies that threaten all the great progress we’ve made as cities and as a country.” Each quarter, mayors will focus on one of five areas: violence reduction and prevention, pre-trial and bail reform, accountable community policing, opportunities for the formerly incarcerated or those involved with the justice system, and public health solutions and investments.

from https://thecrimereport.org

New Evidence Links Medicaid Expansion to Lower Crime Rates

Economist Qiwei He of Clemson University, studying 2010-2016 FBI data, found that access to health care decreased homicide by 7.7 percent; burglary rates by 3.6 percent; motor vehicle thefts by 10 percent; robbery by 6.1 percent; and aggravated assault by 2.7 percent.

New economic research ties Medicaid expansion to lower crime rates and billions of dollars in “crime reduction benefits,” adding to the small body of empirical evidence on the effect of health care on criminal behavior.

Using state- and county-level data from FBI Uniform Crime Reports between 2010 and 2016, economist Qiwei He, of the John E. Walker Department of Economics at Clemson University, compared states with Medicaid expansions to those without, and found that access to health care decreased homicide by 7.7 percent; burglary rates by 3.6 percent; motor vehicle thefts by 10 percent; robbery by 6.1 percent; and aggravated assault by 2.7 percent.

According to the study, which was first published in late December and updated last week, Medicaid expansion saved states nearly $10 billion in one year.

The analysis was carried out concurrently with another investigation of Medicaid expansion and crime, covered in Oct 2017 by The Crime Report. While both studies conclude that access to health care reduces crime rates, He writes that his analysis shows a somewhat weaker effect.

According to He, “the statistically significant crime reduction effects of the Medicaid expansion on Burglary, motor vehicle theft, and robbery provide evidence that the Medicaid expansion is more likely to affect money-related crimes than other crimes.”

crime rates

See also: Medicaid Expansion Tied to Reduction in Crime

The full report, The Effect of Health Insurance on Crime Evidence from the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion, is available for free download on SSRN. This summary was prepared by Deputy Editor Victoria Mckenzie. She welcomes readers’ comments.

from https://thecrimereport.org