Looking at crime as a national disgrace or a plague upon us is wrong, very wrong. Crime is a major contributor to GNP. It is a vast industry reaching from coast to coast employing hundreds of thousands of people. I can't say that I have come across statistics on the employment from crime, but it must be a significant percentage of the total economic activity of the country. This alone should make us stop and think about the attitude we all seem to have about crime. The prevailing opinion is that we should do whatever we can to stop crime; to encourage all citizens to be law abiding and productive members of our society. This, of course, is rubbish. The people who are involved with crime and make their living from it numbering in the hundreds of thousands if not millions need more crime; their livelihood depends on it.
Let us enumerate some of the occupations that would be affected if crime were suddenly to disappear. Jailers and prison guards would be the first standing in the unemployment line. There are a vast number of these folks in that we have several million of our citizens in jail or prison. In addition, if no one is in jail or prison, the jails and prisons stand empty, a waste of valuable resources. And let's not forget probation and parole officers. Since we have tens of millions of our citizens either on probation or parole, those monitoring their behavior and directing their activities will no longer be employed. Then we have the people paid to arrest those committing crimes; paid to ensure us as citizens do what we are told. These include city police, county sheriffs, highway patrols, departments of criminal investigation, departments of public safety, clerks of court, DNR officers, the FBI, DEA, ATF, postal inspectors, secret service, ICE, the border patrol, U.S. Marshals, and others I have either forgotten or never heard of. These people would not have jobs; they would be unable to send their children to the colleges of their choice, buy cars, or have a nice house. It would not be pretty.
And don't forget the counseling industry. We have anger management classes, drunk driving classes, sex offender treatment, substance abuse counseling, cognitive training classes, outpatient treatment, inpatient treatment, halfway houses, AA, NA, and a host of therapies involving psychologists and social workers plus psychiatrist for medications. The demand for these services would approach zero without crime and the courts. Criminal defense attorneys, such as myself, would be out of work as would be the prosecutors and many judges. Without crime, the courtrooms would be empty most days. This brings us to the title of the piece-"A Growth Industry".
We, who are involved with crime, should not despair for the legislators are there. Each year more crimes are added to the laws of each city, county, state, and the United States. Each year there are more people in the United States. Consequently each year there is more crime; the courtrooms are fuller, and all of us who are involved in crime have more to do. It is a wonderful situation. When I make the statement to someone that we need more crime, they take it as a joke or an irreverent comment. Not so. I am perfectly serious. Crime is good for me, good for the State of Iowa, and good for the country. Its time we changed our thinking on the subject.