Many tough-on-crime fads–from neighborhood watch to Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE)–are ineffective, says a new Massachusetts reprot that recommends ditching the politically popular programs, says the Boston Herald. Despite fanfare, there is no crime prevention value to gun buybacks, summer jobs for at-risk youth, or correctional boot camps, says the report by the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice Innovation. Other crime prevention losers include after-school enrichment programs, taking juvenile delinquents on “scared straight” visits to prisons, home detention with electronic monitoring, and intensive supervision during parole and probation, the report says.
Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who oversaw the panel for Gov. Mitt Romney, said the state must “cast a cold eye” on all programs to squeeze every penny out of the taxpayer dollar. “You have to be extremely cold-blooded about how you invest in social programming,” Healey said. “What we’re saying is, take the things away that don’t work, admit they don’t work after good evaluation, make sure that what we’re funding works.”
Some experts dissented. Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley insisted that neighborhood watch groups and after-school programs “do work,” citing “intangible benefits” such as promoting communication among neighbors.
The Boston Globe says the report recommended building a new forensics laboratory center, increasing the links between agencies for sharing data, establishing a central computer repository for forensic information, and mandating an associate’s degree as the minimum education level for anyone going into law enforcement.
Healey said a subcommittee studying “cross-agency information sharing has created an integrated, criminal justice [information technology] plan that will allow criminal justice data not only to flow between agencies, but also, in the context of homeland security, to flow up, seamlessly, accurately, from an officer making an arrest to the state or federal agency that can turn that information into intelligence.”
Eric Ferhnstrom, a spokesman for Romney, said the state had already stopped funding most of the programs the report criticized as ineffective.