Assigning a price to an assault or a burglary might sound preposterous. We like to pretend that justice exists on a philosophical and moral plane separate from dollars and cents. Yet money is integral to the criminal justice system. Think of the way fines are imposed and damage awards assessed for injuries and wrongful death. New research suggests that we can, and should, measure the dollar value of capital-V values—things like freedom and the fear of crime—and trade them against one another in a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis.The new economic realities are changing a number of our assumptions about crime and criminal justice. Cash strapped police departments are now having to fine tune their operations to get the greatest effect with the least amount of resources. Inefficient ways of tackling crime problems are being phased out as departments are forced to do more with less.
What do you think a crime is really worth?