« The Weeds

The evidence on crime and policing


Texas A&M's Jennifer Doleac joins Matt to explain what we know (and don't know) about criminal justice.


"How to Fix Policing" by Jennifer Doleac, Niskanen Center

"How to Make a Police Force More Diverse" by Jennifer Doleac, Bloomberg

"Changing Police Recruitment Messages Attracts a Larger and More Diverse Applicant Pool" by Jennifer Doleac, CCJ

"Making Fair and Respected Cops: Procedural Justice Training in Chicago Proves Successful" by Jennifer Doleac, CCJ

"Encouraging desistance from crime" by Jennifer Doleac

"The Unintended Consequences of “Ban the Box”: Statistical Discrimination and Employment Outcomes When Criminal Histories Are Hidden" by Jennifer Doleac (Texas A&M) & Benjamin Hansen (Univ. or Oregon)


Jennifer Doleac (@jenniferdoleac), Economics professor, Texas A&M / Host of the Probable Causation podcast


Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Senior correspondent, Vox


Jeff Geld, (@jeff_geld), Editor and Producer

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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learn more mainline health, DOT, Org, slash heart. Today's show I was able to sit down with Jennifer. Dolly ACT was a professor at Texas, I M she's the host of a great podcast called probable nation, as you got up from the name she's really into criminal justice issues, policing issues being scrupulous about evidence and and causation, and understanding what we really no signal. We sat down to talk about data on policing what we know about reform, that work, what we know about recidivism that works, what we know about law enforcement that works and the frustrating fact that in a lot of these areas, like our aspirations to build a better world, they just run ahead of what we really know. So how we can think about finding better and so you know, you're gonna learn a lot here and also, I think, learn a lot
how we can learn even more in the future. Hello welcome to another episode of the weeds on the Fox media podcast network. My name is Matthew. Glacius, I'm here today with a guest Jennifer Dalia is an economics professor at Texas, a AMP M university. Also, the host of a great podcast called probable causation. A good friend of mine, told me she recommended did your pack ass to me. She said it SAM. It's like the real world version of what the weeds pretends to be so I am glad to have you show em, I'm glad you have friends who who call me out honour and my bullshit welcome. Thank you things marrying me. So you use study a lot of crime and criminal justice issues, but also it.
The pine at the heart of the past is something you really focus on. A lot is like evidence and specifically evidence about causation and how we know things, and I mean I I saw months ago. You know after aptitude for died when everybody was talking about police reform, you in dialogue with which some people who were frustrated that they were you know, did this. Passion in this moment, like people want change, we will want to see big problems fixed and I feel your job. A lot of the time, certainly put the brakes on people's enthusiasm about certain things and say, talk about a time limits of our knowledge. Unlike what? Why is that important, often joke that it's an economist, my job is to bring the bad NEWS Channel new policy conversation, so I tried
hard, especially in conversations like this to emphasise, I'm not necessarily advocating for slowing down any progress or or try new things bite a push. I guess for caution in the sense that We don't actually know what to do to fix the big social problems we are facing and if we go in to these kinds of situations with a clear idea. What the answer is sure to be Then we are setting ourselves up for failure, a lot of the time that a lot of those solutions that we try to implement aren't going to work and then we're gonna be there pointed, and then some people are today. Well you now, some researchers said that this would Work and clearly we should listen to them anymore or so am I try to just be very honest about how long We currently know in an advocate for rigorously Valley mission. After the fact we should try stuff, but there
but then evaluated in and be prepared to be proven, whence it was about it. It's not about saying well we shouldn't changed things. But it's it's about having a spirit of humility right as we try to change things that you don't wanna you you know what over promise to people like ok, we're gonna do this in its definitely gonna work because it really might not exactly yeah? I tried to tell practitioners and been makers that goal should be to fail fast, rather than not to fail at all, because the audio most things we try aren't going to work like these are. These are problems that were facing because they're so hard to solve. If they are easy to We would have fixed them already. I got something that I think people resist in some quarters. Right, I mean there's, you know, sort of different. Things that can go wrong in the policy world and some of it. About you, no power, and
volition. You know interests clashing with each other and you just sort of nature like beat the man people and put the good people in charge, but other times you have difficult technical problems, and I mean I I echo. What we are saying here is that this is at least in part a genuinely hard technical problem in which peace of good well may try things that sound plausible and it does not to work Certainly, the policing context, the great example where we have no there a lot of things that seem like they could work that we haven't had the chance to try yet because of the people. I've been in power right. So we think about me. Unions are part of this conversation and there are lots of that I researcher would love to go tried from police departments and unions block those kinds of interventions are currently and that could, that would be really nice to see change right. So I
It is true that there's impediments to reform and then also uncertainties right, so I mean it some level. Would you need to see is different places. Try different things right like how? How do you? How do you get evidence on policy change like how? How would we know- if some kind of reform was working, so the vision that a lot of non researchers have in mind is like well, we need to go run, randomized controlled trials just like lab experiments right, and that feels impossible in situations like this, and it often is the goal, standard. The dream is to be able to randomly assign some police departments today, one thing and other police departments to do another thing that is going to be impossible in this context? So what people like me Look for is policy, changes that are implemented in a way that gives us some sort of plausible comparison group back that can tell us what might have happened in the treaty
police department or the city absent that policy change, so Gaza with the big upside of of our very decentralized criminal justice, is we ve got depending on how you count twelve to eighteen thousand different police departments across the country and if all respond to the current moment by trying different staff than that. Give us shortly bunch of really nice natural experiments that people like me can use to see what worked best You know I've learned design sort of reported more on criminal justice. Research seen over the past couple years, is that of against the young that the data is not great, or at least not widely. Available it. Always. Schooling were capable of. Schooling is incredibly decentralized it in the United States and in a similar way and for similar reasons, but but the federal
starting in the sixties, and increasing William in the nineties. Put a lot of effort into like creating centralized repositories of info even so that questions like how many teachers are. There have like very easy to look up straightforward answers. The kids take tests right that our life uniform, and you know a lot of people find standardize test annoying for various reasons up, but like we do this, a visit utility to having people do something that standard It's because you can then compare having one of them. They came out of the Ferguson project? Was media organization started by tracking incidents of police officers killing civilians, but that had to be done like on a very ad hoc basis. Yeah. It's amazing how little we know about really all corners of the criminal, just system like we do not know how many people in the United States have a criminal record, for instance.
Or where they live, or if they have families or jobs, those sorts of things. We don't really know. You know how we spend their time. We don't know, as you just referred to. I don't know how often police use forests. How often police kill people that sort of stuff is not tracked in any sort of systematic way. The best most centralized version of crime data that we have is collected by the FBI. Ah, they collect they, you have all of the individual police departments report So how many reported cry There are a whole different types they also collected formation on who is a police officer in the jurisdiction. So we know how many officers there are gender of those officers. Things like that. But- Even then I mean they're just so many problems with with that data. That has a researcher you have to be like soup. Knowledgeable about to be able to make sense, and that's the good. That's like the Good NEWS is that data exist.
Mean you don't use the other day. I was talking to some people about the sort of apparent rise in murder in deadly some cities over the past couple of months I thought I was like well, I should look it up like. Is this a real national trend like the there's a lot of cities in America? You know who knows, and so You know that was naive of me. It turns out what the f b I can tell you is how many murders that were in the first half of twenty nineteen yeah. That's it that's it to go data? And you know what habits it's weird I mean I was. I was joking mothers, but like the Agriculture Department, every Monday tells you how many chickens were killed the previous week, all costs. Can they keep that very you know how many eggs were laid like they're, really on top of the poultry situation, but our government in, like amazing, detail the average price of chicken wings and grocery stores on a monthly basis like they know so much about chicken and but nothing about
yeah and ended in a media. It's funny, but it does seem like on some level, like the first step, to shut whether you want to be like tough on crime or whether you want to be serious about criminal justice reform or, ideally, both it's like having information, that's reliable. That's comparable, like the appear report. Also is this like big proviso. There, like dont, use this to compare cities to each other, because actually the reporting standards, The directive, which I mean I guess is correct, but then it's like well. What are we doing, what it is or, if not recommending it economies with a bright right? And so I didn't. I guess this is like a rule of thumb. You is that it's better better. If you gotta, compare something try to compare murders because does not as much ambiguity
who is dead. The YAP it's hard to hide a body and difficult. We at least we have some says the reporting is accurate, their yeah, so this is like one thing you could do is try to make it possible to study things. Yes, that is a good first step. The means to do so one day I really enjoy about being in a kindness in this in this space studying criminal justice policy, as I, if you like, you have to be really entrepreneurial as a researcher into if you study Crime- and I am that kind of her sentence- I kind of I find it to go, find data that is really hard to find peace thickly. Basically, a big part of this job is like convincing people to give you data. I'm right, finding the police department. That will say yes to your request for a date on use of forests or finding the police department that tracks crime data, and you codes at or something like that
I find that challenge to be kind of fun, but it is completely ridiculous, but that is part of this. I mean it's a weird word: okay, something you've written about lately in a few forms that I think is interesting. Is diversity on police forces which I've been trying to activists last month all seem very sort of sour I'm saying nothing against it exactly, but I think the impression I got from a lot of them as they feel, like this is alike, been there done that it doesnt work, kind of thing. Abbe to have a more optimistic, read on what diversity can achieve yeah, so I guess my view based on the research is that in a week we ve been there done that in it did work in that in the nineteen seventies anyway right, so so they were all these court orders that required. Please. Apartments to try to hire more black officers and more female officers and, as a result, police departments hired.
Black officers and more female officers and in general, found that reporting by communities by went in and by black residence in those communities went up as a result and our related crime went down, so everything is particularly striking when you look at the result of hurrying more more Winona police officer, as you see big reductions in homicides. Internet, partner, violence and big increases in reporting of stuff like domestic violence, and so I think that just all highlights how important trusty here and if you have people that you feel like take your problem seriously, you're gonna be more likely to report to the police that that something has happened. So we we did this in the nineties. Seventeen nineteen eighty is early nineties. We sermons now how are much more diverse than they were then, so it is not obvious that doing the same thing now would bear the same benefits, but I think it's certainly
promising, and there is room here for us to continue to move in this direction. That is something I would like to see emphasised. Oftentimes v, ethnic composition of a police force will be compared to the ethnic composition of the city that there,
policing unit, which seems reasonable enough, but we know that this actually more crime happen. Aid in black and latino neighbourhoods and, to the extent of the impacts, are on sort of people's victims at community members level of confidence in the department. Their eagerness to report to come forward as as witnesses things like that. There's a sort of extra value to having the department reflective, not necessarily of the municipality broadly but of the communities where the crime victims are and where their their living. So it seems to me that there is at least potentially like more margin there than you might think. If you ask like we're, is policing
Where is crime happening that when departments continue to be predominantly white, it's actually quite a large mismatch on a neighborhood level right, absolutely yeah, and this is a place where I haven't seen really great data on that neighborhood level, so love to see but the numbers that I found where something like like seventy percent of a full time sworn certainly you after way end and only fifty seven percent of serious crime victims are white, so there is a big as you said just in terms of like we know that blackened no residents are more like, could be victims and they're the ones that need to trust the police work. I just took a seventy percent at the point. Is seventy percent white is close to
the national civil population, but it's not right, dearly, representative of the population of crime victims so and even more so with women. Obviously, where most crime victims, I guess her men, but not nearly as disproportionately as police officers. So how do you do that like? How? How do you get a more diverse depart? Yes, a lot of departments are currently expense, up with theirs. They know it's a problem. The problem is compounded by the fact that recent years becoming a police officer is not a particularly appealing prospect. Police have been under a lot of scrutiny recently, so please. Weapons in general are having a really hard time recruiting right now and for the most part, cannot fill the available thought. So We then say we want to make that you are also increasing diversity enough. They can't you get enough applicants to fill the available roles. They can't be choosy,
so in general, were kind of looking for four ways to recruit more indifferent people in general to be nice if we could increase diversity at the same time, so it turns out there. These are turning to Elizabeth Lino assumes that you see Berkeley, who has now run a bunch of different randomize experiments in place to farmers across the country. Her first one I think within TAT, Newgate Tennessee, where she she just worked with the police farmer to send out like postcards and like a math marketing camp. And try different messaging. So the standard way to recruit police is using messages that really focus on public service right, so that you look at kind of who is. Only a police officer it turns out. They are merely motivated by public service that wagon into the job, but if we want to think about how to recruit more in depth people? We might need to change that message and she finds that really emphasising challenge of the job and the career prospects at the job brought in Germany
more people to apply. Then. If people hadn't received messages at all or receive the standard public service message and in particular those messages were The effective among residents of color, so if we want to increase diversity, it seems like you know, emphasising those different messages could be really useful That's just like one example of a really cheap intervention that seem to be really effective and adjust. I eat up it there's so much more extermination to be done around this you're gonna hinting at this right. But if this kind of like one of the paradox
perform here is its as as messaging level. It's it's hard to go to a group of people and say, like the police departments, terrible there like ignoring crimes in a community and that's all we need you to go, join up. It's very challenging to make anything better unless people are gonna want to like people of with good intentions, are gonna want to step up and and participate in some level. I it's. What strikes me is as hard honour on a social level and in part of the reason the dress like when you achieve diversity it can help, but, but it may be hard. As these things get more in Joe. You know like hot button, partisan politics yet reminds me of conversations around diversity and inclusion right. You need our city, but you also need the inclusion peace like when people are on the job. They need to feel like their welcome it they can do what they're there to do in general, like your crew, like one or two additional black officers in her department that alone,
is probably not going to be that helpful. Even if you get them to sign up, they might not last very long, but you really you're probably also going to need some culture change to make sure that they stay in that, maybe maybe they're not just like a token hire you want. You want a whole bunch of new people who are joining the forest to because they they want to see a better worse, yet has ok, let's break it want to talk about some some more and that have you having trouble media your goals, focusing work. If you have feelings, stressed you're having trouble sleeping better help is here for you, it's not a self help. Class inside a crisis line better help is secure, online, professional, hounds with real licence their best to have the tools to help you feel better? Is fill out a questionnaire about how you're doing and better Hubble match you with your own licence therapist under forty eight,
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Agnes Cannon Centre, and you were talking about how it's become in so many areas, so difficult to sort of discipline, officers for misconduct end and you offered. You know, I think, an analysis that would come very naturally to economists, but that I think a lot of people quite get intuitively, but this is a kind of way when politicians need to bargain with public sector unions, the union, leadership and the member states they want stuff like any union wide and the politicians have you no limited budgets that they can work with, and so the often will compensate public employees, including police officers, with things they don't have a fiscal cost and then it sort of turns out to be costly to society and, on the back end right, yeah, absolutely cell
you think about the various things that police officers are. Please, unions might want. The pension is a really big, certainly financial costs due to two cities and a big form of the compensation they get a salary, they get health benefits, but then they also get job security right, and so In these conversations, that's really easy ask ever jurisdiction, their negotiating with, because that seems free to the City Council are the mayor, whoever dino as to balance their budget. But of course all the recent conversations were having sex that is not free at all. It is really difficult to fire a police officer than it makes it difficult to make sure that the police force that we have protecting informing us is composed of the types of people who were suited to that job. So young and as an economist, I look at that and say well, we get we pay for. If we want to have
more control over who is a police officer and the ability to fire people if they're not doing the job. We're gonna have to pay the people who are at the centre is more in order to compensate them for the last the loss of their jobs, the Gary it's a tough conversation is, it goes a little bit askew to what we're talking about in in the policy conversation right now, which is that a lot of people were critical of policing is sort of, as an actual practice say what they want to take money out of this and put money into other things get one that could work on some margins. I mean you know this desire ways. Trade offs is no unitary right thing to do, but it's quite clearly policing is is important right I mean it's not always done well and that's a big part of the problem, but that becomes the issue here, that, if you seriously want to say ok, we're we're gonna hold
far too much higher standards of conduct. We're gonna ask them to expose themselves to more personal risk for the sake of not injuring civilians. We're going to get rid of the You know people get all like hung up about bad apples or whatever. But you know there is a number of people who are performing at a much below average level in any kind of organisation and its very hard to get rid of them from police departments, and that creates you know a culture where this is just how some people do things But if you want to change that, you're probably going to need you gonna end up more expensive police force, rather than it cheaper wine and you'd, have to say what the benefit is. We have a like a like a better community that people feel safe in the end, they feel good right. So I think that the conversations around you funding the police certainly employ
That we would have fewer police officers rights that you could. You could potentially Nino cut police budgets and cut the number of officers and paid all the same amount or pay them more than their currently getting. I think this also goes back to our conversation, but how to fruit people right, I mean, if win, if we want to have more people applying so that we have a lot to choose from, We ve got people like on a weight, less that weaken Poland, where we need to fire. Somebody then We're gonna need to make the job more appealing, and that could be, no all a matter of pr bite. You know people respond to incentives in and salary. These are really big incentive when it comes to employment and so making making the job of being a police officer- a really well paid position, but then expecting a lot of people when they are in After all, I feel like
really good way to make sure where, where recruiting the kinds of people that we would like to see in these chops yeah, I guess you could be, I think Lenin said better fewer, but better in his his goal to to reform that the soviet bureaucracy absent, you could have like smaller, better paid departments where people are Helms, you into a higher standards sort of one conceivable vision. But I worry at least that we're moving Ellison Practical City Council politics, I've seen them in the capital cities. I watch toward a sort of like like a weird kind of levelling down. Where were not actually asking a lot more of the police departments. Would telling them like we're mad. So we're going to give you less money, we're just going to give you less money yeah, but expect exactly the same amount. Of everything and there isn't really a clear plan yet to shift a bunch of the responsibility to some other outfit, which I think is
What reformers are pushing for is to basically have some sort of like force of social workers or something that takes a lot of the calls, but that's going to take a while to set up another thing I've heard about recently said there's a though I think at least in Seattle. Surely in other places the research department, data people and the police department are on the chopping block. So basically, if these police departments have two are facing huge budget cuts their their number. One priority is: is having people having officers out on the street to to deal with crime so all that other staff, the extra like researchers and data and data analyse, are going to be the first to go and Sir neither researcher I'm in a little little biased here, but I feel, like those offices, are really important. An end like you said earlier. If we want to figure out what works, then we need to make the data available and those offices are crucial if we want to be moving forward in that direction, and so I think aid
you're exactly right, that there's the defund, the police, movement. That advocates are pushing for looks, very deaf, and then what we are likely to see on the ground where city councils are just trying to to appease angry residence and they're, just gonna cut the budget and we are likely to see crime go out for a likely see it be even harder to recruit good officers. That, to me seems very unlikely to be the solution. I am very worried about this dynamic. I mean I love to see people be like more engaged in their communities and in politics and pushing for for change like it's. It's the good and I dont want to be like MR may say, but when you think about like, if you, if you take the critique of police departments seriously right, if you say ok, these institutions have become there. They are just functional in certain ways. They are too conservative and resistant to change and resistant to scrutiny, they're, not payment,
attention to what marginalize communities need, either in a public safety level or honour and treatment of civilians level will then take that to heart and then ask for what are they gonna do with a fifty? send budget cuts. Are they going to a really smart, thoughtful, hey, eliminate you know like the most because no rightly give it the exact same people, and if you want change, you have to do something like constructive change. To do something calibrated due to generate it like you would need new people to want to be police officers. You would need
to be very deliberate about research and evaluation. Like things that we know, I think most rank and file officers dont have like near and due to their heart like how can we do evidence based research on improving our conduct, but, like you, you you're gonna have to tell them like no. We. We are spending money on this because we want to. We want to know, and of course of crime goes up. You could see the politics flip very quickly and we ve had low cry mostly and in recent years, compared to where was went. When I was a kid and that's open up a lot of certain new kinds of political spaces, but I don't think you can just you can just ignore that entirely, and you know I know not. Everybody wants to believe this, but at least my red of their the literature is, is pretty clear that officers on the street have an impact on the level of crime and communities, yet absolutely
yeah. This is, I mean, there's a lot. We don't know in the criminal justice space like one thing that we definitely do know is that putting more police on the streets reduces crime Now? Are all these additional questions about the other impacts, the putting more police on the streets right? What are the social costs, and there is some great research out there that is trying to to quantify that and in a measure the causal impact of fully thing on things like the educational outcomes of kids. If you put police in school, more than that in the long term, traumatic to get it. There's a police shooting in their neighborhood in those kinds of things. But when you just look at crime rates, it is extremely clear that police reduce crime and as you are discussing earlier. Crime is more likely to happen in oh income and and minority neighbourhoods, and so the results the costs of reading,
sing policing, which is currently concentrated in those neighborhoods, because that's where crime is crime goes up, those are the people that are going to bear that cost and there might be benefits, that's right, I mean do you know. People worry about over policing in their creed benefits, reducing over policing, but there's gonna be a trade off here. Isaak gonna be a clear better. That way you know when I was in took took my I took only one economics class, but you don't you you draw these. These tradeoff curve, swayed and- and I think the thing people need to know about this- is that the trade offs are essentially there like internal to the same community, spread like the people who suffer from overly aggressive policing are also the same communities that suffer from excessive violent crime, and you can make different spots on that tradeoff curve, but like really to help the the kinds of communities were too
about like you need to you- need to push the curve out or downer. I forget, haven't these curves, where it should give the professor something when the glare of the production possibility friend here out. Yes, though, you I think that you, scenario here is just have like better policing. Right, though it be better. If we had police that you know, could reduce crime and also not be people who don't deserve it right and like reducing the number of unnecessary killings by police, just in general, like with each other, We know that there are tons of incidents out there where that unnecessarily escalate, even too, a rat's much less to violence and ITALY or, if we had officers and trained
aye, sir, is in a way that it that taught them how to de escalate situations and achieve you know. Less crime and better outcomes for everybody without arresting as many bar or or resorting to violence, and so that's that that's the dream and questions how to get there yet so do we have evidence on training programmes that are that are good, and that work, because you know this: like a million like racial, biased, trainings and slightly superficial thing that had been businesses, new them. Police departments do them, and I think you know sophisticated people least while their eyes it at some of this, but also- Obviously you can do trainings that are effective, like I've learned things that helped me do my job better. I'm sure police officers could do that to yeah though we know remarkably little about which training programmes work, veto implicit by his training
hot right now, both and policing and everywhere else, and in general we have no idea of implicit. Biased training works. The psychologists, I know, don't think it have any impact at all. So you know, but someone should go test it so there's there have now been too nice studies of procedural justice training Programme, one in Seattle when in Chicago Chicago, was a much bigger one though it provided really nice evidence that that this kind of thing can be effective and the programme they implemented. There was just don't one day training, but they they they trained all the officers and the procedural justice component is basically like training. The officers to make sure that they talk to the for who around and make them feel heard. An interest in general make them trust the process and make sure that day. They trust that the officer understood their perspective
then and listen to them in and all of that, so that they then trust whenever, whatever the outcome as they kind of fate, because they trust the process, though trust the outcome of centuries, the idea, so why? What kind of results too? That yeah? I got so the cargo programme they want of reducing use of forest. They reduce complaints. Against the officers that have received the training, reduced settlements in lawsuit, so big financial payoff to the city. I think it was like a six percent reduction in use of force, but it was you know, statistically. Significant, and this is a one day- training satellite. If you'd asked ahead of time. I would have guessed that this would have no impact on anything, but they found in a pretty sizeable effects relative to in all other things that we might do and but imagine the same kind of and having even bigger effects. If you made it an annual thing or even just did in combination with other stuff right, I mean, I think, no one, no one
pensions gimme the solution to all our problems, but that by me that definitely sounds like something I've been given. How sort of superficial had was at that? That's like something like any department should seriously consider just doing he and probably some d- it would be announces we're talking about evidence, it would be good to see another large department explore a more robust version of this training right exactly yet They did it. The way they did in Chicago was really nice to. Basically, you know they had to train eight thousand officers. They couldn't do it overnight. They basically randomly chose twenty five to thirty thirty at a time to get the training each month and that meant that you had this nice staggered roll out of the program over and it was random when you, you got the training, so they could. They could compare people who got the training early you got it later and that's just a really nice model for testing any kind of training right. So, yet you know it's nice to have evidence that this particular training worked in Chicago, but it
so is a really nice to have a model that other departments can just directly applied a test anything that they want to. Try ya know that make them Not now do they know with able to follow up and see. Does that fade out or you know, is it just like one and done yeah, so they they follow people for two years. I think, and I think that the effect of bigger overtime, which suggested that there might be some spill over effect, so basically you know the people got it early, were essentially essentially treating their peers in a sense they will not go back to their unit or whatever and and maybe share what they knew or just having them around with. You now have have beneficial effects. In whatever the whenever situations they were in, so it doesn't seem like the effect stated, which is also really impressive, gather, let's get, or maybe even like ants positive reinforcement like the officers gonna wait, enjoy it enjoyed getting a better response from the pub
presumably I mean I liked being better at my job were like presently, everyone likes being better it whatever it is their doing, and so I you know having a training like this. They were you see, you mean the effects are big enough. They probably saw directly, the difference in house civilians interacted with them and- and that has got to make the job a police officer, more enjoyable. I mean you and how the most frequent thing that I have heard from police officers is like their frustration with not getting the level of respect or or what from the community than they feel they deserve, and yet they often in very resistant to the idea that, like maybe they should try doing something deeper. That's the out of this training right, like AIDS with a one day training, but they obviously told them something like try doing it. This way
and people were a lot happier with that. I don't know politics is what it is, but This is always strikes me as a terrain that is less zero. Sum like conceptually Then a lot of other issues that we deal with, like people don't want to see their neighbours and family members killed and police officers. I think like want to be blocked and seen as helpful, and you know where we were obviously like, not there so many cities in America up like listening to begin with, I want. I want to talk about recidivism if you're, a gig worker or self employed there. Some good about PPP loans, you might want to consider. Millions of self employed workers may qualify for up to fifty thousand dollars in one hundred percent forgivable loans You might be one of those millions as the leader
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P s dot org. So I another black line of research that I have seen you involve with is programmes. They try to help re entering prisoners or not prisoners. Any more people coming back into civilian life, because we know a huge problem right is that a lot of people go to prison. They do their time there were released and then they wind up back in prison, and this is like nobody wants like lots of crime lots of people in prison like it's a huge problem in american society, but we don't really seem to know what to do in a lot of these city yeah. So the best state in the US suggested two thirds of those released from prison will be rearrested within three years.
Is a lot and about half of those actually those and so yeah. If we We are serious about wanting to reduce incarceration raids in the U S which allow what people really want to do We need to figure out a way to stop people from cycling through the system and that it That is really hard and again is. It is a place where a lot of things that we try dont work and so is another place. I've really been pushing for just just trying stuff, but so evaluating to make sure we're getting that the benefits that we're hoping for what is not working. What would it people needs no two to knock off So what got me into this initially hours? I wrote a paper on beyond the box policies which prohibit employers from asking you a criminal record on a job application, and they gas late in the process that can do a background check before actually hiring you, but that basically the idea. The hope is that this gives people were the record a chance get in the door and build rapport with the employers that they won't care. If you
when they finally check and as an economist I heard about this, this thought, like oh gosh. This could backfire if employers don't want Harrison with a criminal record, and they can't ask they might just try to gas, and then they done have you young black men, for instance, and so found in my work, that that is what bans, and so again the box does seem to have this unintended consequence. Subsequent work also finds that in most cases, this doesn't seem to increase employment for poltroon records, either, which is unfortunate and certainly unexpected. So this really lead me to think you know healthy conversations, because if because I'm so used to bring the bad news, I always try to bring at least some alternative is right, like you know, don't do that anymore, but we should do this instead, started reading the literature, unjust, realizing like gosh. We know nothing like what to do instead, another. It really doesn't seem to work, is transitional jobs, so it seems like one other policy you could. Try is just like
if we think employment really matter as we could just try giving people a job right arm and that could help them build both. Maybe some some job specific skills, but more likely that the kind of soft skills, being reliable, showing up on time every day, I'm getting along with your manager, like all that kind of stuff, though these kinds of Programme have been now touch it as nice, rigorous randomize, controlled trials in number of different settings and in general they give people at job at like a non profit for six months and then at the nonprofit, really works with them. To make sure that you want to help them become a better employee and then the goal is to transition them into a more permanent job. And in general all those programme is all find that if you read into the treatment group. You get offered this job. You show up like you, you actually do it, but then, at the end of the six months you don't look any different than the control group.
So long term employment isn't affected at all and in most cases recidivism Go down even when the people are in those transitional jobs, so it really seems like just getting people a job, doesnt work, which was certainly surprising to me, so they did just back right that the context for this lead. We have a sort of light, collective action problem with regard to the employment of ex offender strike, which is like from a social point of view. We don't want to say anyone who's ever been to jail. Bedroom into prison is now permanently unemployable. I mean there's, there's more to crime than labour market prospects, but clearly, if, if nobody can get a legit job than the prospects of them, committing more crimes are really reply. I bet it the same time as an employer.
Like it's very understandable that, given the option between two different people, one of whom was just out of prison and one of them wasn't that you're gonna want to stay away from the criminal, so we're seeking ways. So the idea of being in the box is well okay. If we obscure it, then we're gonna make this trade off go away, but instead employers just discriminate again black men in general. So ok, what we could do. A transitional job and that'll give him the skills by its still the same population and people still no right it. Doesn't he ain't you? You can't like trick people into not what you're dealing with here. So one thing, I wonder- because you know I read about a lot of stuff- is how much of this is just sort of a macro issue that
know. As long as employers can be choosy, they will discriminate against sex offenders and if you try to stop them, they'll statistically discriminate But if you have a really low unemployment rate, then it doesn't matter and like just everyone can get hired regard. Yeah so having a low unemployment rate, certainly helps basically any group that on the margin labour force. It's going to be better off. If employers can be less juicy right. If you get to applications her, a job or swine, then you're gonna have to hire that person. You got a hundred you're gonna pick the person that that feels like the best back to you and on the other, a bunch groups here, maybe on the margin, including people with criminal records, bathing eat you what you, what you're getting at is is really what I see is that the biggest here, is trying to figure out like what what players are really worried about here and what what their incentives are and then trying to directly address those incentive so yeah I mean if, if we want, if we think
that there are positive externalities? in a context, arms from employers hiring people criminal records. That means that the all of US benefit that when employers are willing to give people with records a chance, then there's good. And for government intervention to try to provide incentives to employers to do more of that, and then the questioners is just like What is it that employers are worried about? What incentives do we need to provide and the transitional job they were really betting on the issue being by this, this group, on average, doesn't have the soft skills, doesn't have the interpersonal skills and really You know having a place that they work for six months, where their supervisor could vouch for them, like. Maybe that would be good enough to get them into the private sector job and it seems like the answer is no that wasn't enough. There's something else. That employers are worried about some do do, we know
we want better employed right. I can t imagine a lot of things that that that you might do you. My worry about yeah, so something that employers talk a lot about is their worried about legal liability. So if someone who has a criminal record than committed other crime on the job, then, even if before they were hired. That particular record didn't like much of a red flag without minor drug connection or something in retrospect, anything can look like a red flag to the press or to a jury or or whoever, and so that that of being a potentially catastrophic costs to the employer and they could be, could put them at a bit. If they have a big enough lawsuit, negligent, hiring lawsuit or if they get the bad press from from hiring someone who went onto our salt, a customer or something going now case, you can imagine interventions that shift. The risk from the employer to the courts are just some non profit or something like
there's a legal liability issue, and then there all these These are on productivity and, like maybe just on average, because from Iraq we know are more likely to have histories of substance, abuse and untreated mental illness and they're. Also because we have high recidivism rights, more likely to be arrested soon, and so you know they may be less reliable, and that is something employers have an incentive to worry about, and so we could, so do more to address all of those things are actually make them more work ready by actually investing in this population rather than just locking up for years, and that could address those employers concerns rights. As you say, I typically people who windup incarcerated have they have problems right. This is out of a group of people that has low level formal education, high rates of substance, abuse, high rates of mental illness, and you put them in prison conditions that are often quite brutal for a span of time.
And then set them loose upon the world and you have, and then we blame the employer for no one to hire, ran right. Where is ok and we're getting a quite a lot of money on the the system, and so maybe windy to like to do something. I just wonder like us, society right I mean I, I have an article about my from the near Daily NEWS, says, exclude city bus drivers with criminal past slipped, a gaping, Lou Pause and, of course I get it. My dad right. So it's like rule do want criminals drive in the bus with kids on it, but I mean again assuming that we don't lie.
This is the problem, every body to be serving a life sentence right which, like when you don't like, even even under conditions of our sky high incarceration rate, like most people get out of breath and a lot of people have the aspiration to have those sentences be be shorter. The unfortunate reality right, if we read John fastened and others, is that it's not just like all marijuana dealers in there. They have done bad things, yet we want them to leave prison and we want them to like do something normal with their lives and most people. Most people do age out of crime quickly right, so people do especially young man, you a lot of stupid things and and by the time they had twenty five or thirty year, thirty, five like they grow out of it and so yeah I mean if if then, there No record means they can never get a job. That's just that's! That's a heck of a punishment to put on someone,
who, in a made mistakes when they were younger right because you don't drive on the bus like that's a pretty good, that's like something you can teach people to do it skills you can learn later in life. It doesn't require like many years of college, but but you have to be willing to say on some Laval like gas like egg, Criminals are gonna, be interacting with citizens, and some share of them won't be sound citizens for the rest of their lives, and we have to like I left by those bullets, but so do we know what what what works? What's the most. But what what's optimistic here, Miss Gibson It needs a ass, though so one of the most promising text of interventions that has been shown to work in a bunch of different context. This calendar of behavioral therapy so is basically a form of a therapy that teachers you just change the way that you, you think about any scenario, that in front of you, like
slow down in a question your initial reactions. There is the example that that day you people gave kind of programme like the initial and interaction and like they they have people up and they give one of them like a tennis ball or something, and they say: ok, the other person she get get the ball from your partner and they, like the minute, beating a beating each other up, trying to get the ball from them, and then they switch and do it again and then You bet that interaction that the facilitator says you know. Did anyone try just asking for the ball? You know like what what did you think was gonna have and like it turns out. I rose I don't care about this by what are given to you. So, just like things like bad trade, train us all that in the scripts that are in our minds about how things are gonna go based on our past experience, as though those have been those times of programmes have been to reduce violent crime and to reduce dino all kinds over Increase SAM. I persistence in school a whole bunch of good things.
So that is is one area where it just seems like there should be really high quality C b, t everywhere and, of course, scaling up as a whole, another issue, but leg, ah obstructing from that. That seems like a really promising programme I mean I don't know right. I mean that the sort of premise of of C B to Europe is one of the premises. Is that a lot of times, people- and I mean this- is like now just criminals- it states many of us do things that other people don't want us to do, but that also lead to outcomes that we ourselves don't want in its that we we want to see. I did a c b t earlier in my life that that I found very helpful and it's because you get into patterns of dysfunctional. Behavior. Where things happen, you react to those things. Other people react to your reaction. Next thing you know, everybody is really upset and worse off than they were,
war, and you can learn to think differently right about this are predictive all patterns of a baby. Easier, but it requires I've been evident, requires investment in the programme, but also extension of a certain amount of good will towards you know: people who get in trouble right, like you, have to you, you have to be willing to believe that, like they say they want to do better. In the end, you you need to help them. Yes, there's bo be providing the opportunity, for these programmes is kind of a first step. The second step is like convincing people to go and pretty which isn't always easy right. A lot allow these programs, where they've been successful, have happened while people are in cars, we did our while there are like required to be in school or something and it actually not that obvious how to get people who would really bad. But from this kind of training to show up and participate in it. And then there is the question you know: if, if there are these legal aid
issues hanging over employers like they're genuinely concerned. About that! Then you know all the city in the world might not get them to take a chance on someone with a record, so there later. As of this dad, I think we can. We really important understand that we don't understand yet we're fine clothes out. I would like to ask people like what what what but I miss your white. What should I have asked you about in these in these broad support What are the people need to know? Yeah? I don't I mean I think, there's a ton of research out there, and you know I spend my career reading through all these papers and trying to glean when I can from the research that exists, but the reality is then, just in all of these corners of the criminal justice system. There is so much we don't know yet and the best that anyone can could do both is as a voter as a voter citizen as a practitioner, policymaker is just to facilitate a culture of experimentation. Aware, we are striving to fell fast rather than not to fail at all. I think
You know some some leaders, some mayors, mayors or aren't corrections officials or at I have a really good at building their careers in a way where a dry on that and and lead people who want to find solutions, not necessarily are going to come in and provide the answers, and I think the problem is that voters. We don't always reward that, and so we want to see meaningful. I think we need to be more open to having our leaders say. You know I don't, have all the answers, but I'm determined to find the solution.
And you know, let's just go tribal just off and figure out which doesn't work and you know we'd. We don't like hearing that, but that's honest like that's the way it's gonna have to work. If we're gonna find solutions, Democrats alarming that sir, the main takeaway hoped to lead people with yeah demands demands evidence but be patient with people. Ok, so that's fantastic! Thank you so much for for joining us. Our anybody out. There are probably cause asian, excellent podcast Jennifer's. Our great twitter follow if you're interested in these subjects, evidence of all kinds of things related to to criminal vast us, thanks as always to sponsors, to our producers to God and the way to be back onto.
Transcript generated on 2021-05-18.