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  • rmacculloch

As National and Labour waffle on about nothing, David Seymour gets it right on electronic monitoring

As the country grapples with a huge outbreak of youth offending, coming in the form of ram-raids and such like, our two major political parties, as usual, waffle on without providing any simple, clear cut, empirically proven way of solving the problem. ACT Leader David Seymour has advocated for electronic monitoring which entails youth offenders wearing ankle bracelets. He has been attacked from all sides for coming up with such a sensible idea. Labour wont contemplate it whilst the Nats blame school truancy. Truancy problems will not be solved overnight - so that focus is unlikely to offer any immediate respite.

So is there evidence from the world's top economics journals to support Seymour's idea? Yes. It's found in an article called "Criminal Recidivism after Prison & Electronic Monitoring" in the Journal of Political Economy. The very real problem youth offenders pose is that incarceration would likely turn them into even worse offenders and life-time hardened criminals after being released. So the difficulty is how to punish & stop them from offending whilst at the same time avoiding the disastrous long-term consequences of incarceration.

The article above finds that "treating individuals with electronic monitoring relative to prison" causes a reduction in "criminal recidivism" and the size of effect is "large".

It's a shame that the government endlessly touts the idea of "following the science" when it comes to our Covid-health response, yet when it comes to proven ways to reduce crime, how to run a Central Bank without causing rampant inflation and a raft of other issues carefully studied in economics, the science is thrown out of the window.



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