Prisons do prevent some crimes

February 19, 2008 11:00 pm

To the editor:

In a recent letter to the editor, Mr. Gary Dielman asserts that prisons don't prevent crimes. He states that this has been shown through numerous studies readily available on the Internet.

But such studies overlook a simple fact. When a criminal is behind bars, he is not burglarizing homes nor robbing convenience stores. While confined, he is unable to commit further crimes. Quite often, Baker City will have a mini crime wave which ends abruptly when the perpetrator is arrested and put away. Every time a criminal is locked up, the crime rate is reduced — the crimes he would have committed don't happen. Prisons may not prevent further crime by those on the outside, but they certainly have that effect on those inside.

Certainly locking people up is expensive. But so is letting criminals run around loose. Every day, people have their bank accounts cleaned out through identity theft, and lose thousands of dollars. Burglars strip homes of valuable appliances. Cars worth thousands of dollars disappear into "chop shops." Victims may be partially reimbursed if they have insurance. But then the loss is spread out to the rest of us through higher insurance rates. The lost items may have little monetary value, yet due to sentiment or rarity may be irreplaceable — the Chinese urn Grampa brought home from the Spanish-American War, Aunt Mabel's coin collection, family photos, etc. The loss is often more than money. Victims of assaults may never fully recover, but will bear the physical and mental scars the rest of their lives.

The cost of prisons is borne by the general public through taxes. The costs of crime are borne primarily by the victims themselves. Rehabilitation programs are iffy at best. Some criminals can be turned around. But far too many care for no one but themselves, and regard the rest of us as fair game.

Pete Sundin

Baker City