Crime and Violence

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THE PRIVATE SECTOR ORGANISATION OF JAMAICA
DISCUSSION PAPER FOR NATIONAL PLANNING SUMMIT
NOVEMBER 2-4, 2007
CRIME, VIOLENCE AND JUSTICE
Prepared by: CaPRI and Peter Thwaites

THE PRIVATE SECTOR ORGANIZATION OF JAMAICA
DISCUSSION PAPER FOR NATIONAL PLANNING SUMMIT
NOVEMBER 2-4
BACKGROUND: CRIME

Taking Responsibility

CaPRI is a Caribbean think tank that promotes evidence-based policymaking in the region. CaPRI espouses a methodology which is built on the values of multi-disciplinary work, team work and the utilization of the diaspora in our search for evidence. Committed to the region’s development, CaPRI has strong linkages with the academic community, the private sector and civil society.

Research on the relationship between crime and the economy in Jamaica found two key links. One is that crime directly retards economic growth. The second is that the high rate of violent crime, apparently connected to high levels of interpersonal trust and low levels of confidence in the organs of the state - the police and court system -heightens transaction costs and thereby diminishes economic activity. Given the apparent connection between violent crime and the loss of confidence in the state, an effective strategy to tackle crime thereby necessitates a restoration of this confidence. Sixty-two percent of respondents in CaPRI’s survey on perceptions of corruption in the public sector (September 2006) believed the public sector to be corrupt. Although such a strategy could pose political challenges, its actual content has now been fairly well established in a substantial body of research. In short, we know what needs to be done. At the heart of the Jamaican crime problem are organized crime and the related high murder rate. Organized crime is the main problem because it has made a business of crime, has professionalized it, made it transnational, generated huge income streams from drug trafficking and extortion, and made the criminal networks powerful players in a number of inner-city communities in the cities and some of the major towns of the island. According to the Economic & Social Survey of Jamaica 2006, 32.5%, almost one-third, of all murders were connected to gang disputes. Moreover, the organized crime networks have formed alliances with selected politicians and have become important players in local and national politics1. They use their money and power to corrupt critical institutions of the country, including the very police force that is supposed to repress them. CaPRI’s own survey on corruption in the public sector (September 2006) showed that 81% thought the police force was corrupt. In short, organized crime in Jamaica demonstrates that crime pays and is a viable route to social success. Organized crime has some common roots with violent crime. The most rigorous empirical research on the Jamaican homicide problem indicates that the key determinants of the homicide rate are:

• The high rate of youth unemployment (and underemployment) • Inequality, which finds expression in the concentration of social problems in the so-called inner-city areas of Kingston and Montego Bay, that is, the marginalization of the urban poor. Many now lack the basic education and social skills to make them fit for 1

References to the alliance between politics and crime abound, including Carl Stone’s 1986 “Class, State, and Democracy in Jamaica”, Praeger Publishers; Anthony Harriot (2007), “Organisational Crime and Politics in Jamaica”, Canoe Press; and the Political Tribalism Report- Government of Jamaica Constitutional Reform Unit (1997).

Prepared by: CaPRI

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THE PRIVATE SECTOR ORGANIZATION OF JAMAICA
DISCUSSION PAPER FOR NATIONAL PLANNING SUMMIT
NOVEMBER 2-4



Taking Responsibility
employment.
The ineffectiveness of the criminal justice system. The sources of this ineffectiveness vary from institution to institution, but in the case of the police, they include incapacity, incompetence and corruption. One...
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