This essay sketches the outlines of a future world in which crime has been drastically reduced. The author proposes two radical approaches to achieve this crime reduction. Some crimes, like drunk driving, can be almost completely eliminated by using technology to prevent the operation of a vehicle by a driver with a blood alcohol greater than the permissible level. Other crimes, like larceny or burglary of expensive items, can be made extremely easy to solve by requiring the installation of micro chips that will, when activated, broadcast their location to police.
To the objection that it will be expensive to install the necessary technology, the answer is found in what crime costs us today. Drunk driving is estimated to cost the economy 40 billion dollars a year. The total cost of crime, much of which involves burglaries and larcenies, is estimated at 1.7 trillion dollars a year. If we could reduce that annual cost by a mere 20%, it would save the economy 350 billion dollars per year. That could pay for many sophisticated microchips and blood alcohol detectors with a lot of money left over.
But do we want to live in a “Clockwork Orange” world where government prevents and deters crime by becoming more deeply embedded in our everyday life? Do we want our cars to tell us when we’ve had too much to drink? The last part of the essay probes these questions and provides a controversial answer.
Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure
Date of this Version
George C. Thomas III, "Making Crime (Almost) Disappear" (February 2007). Rutgers Law School (Newark) Faculty Papers. Working Paper 39.