I-Team: The Cost of Crime

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - When you hear the sirens go by, you may not think you’re directly involved, but a 22News I-Team investigation found crime, no matter where it happens, costs all taxpayers a lot of money and it starts to add up the second it happens.

“Crimes often happen in the middle of the night. Or they happen on weekends, so if there’s a homicide at 2:00 in the morning, the state police detectives unit are going to get called out of their beds and have to work all night,” said Hampden County’s Interim District Attorney Jim Orenstein.

Orenstein told 22News it only starts with police overtime costs. Then medical costs are possible if the victim doesn’t have insurance. The bill for an ambulance ride alone can range from $750-$2,000, that doesn’t include any care needed.

Those are just the immediate costs. The I-Team discovered for all cases that lead to jail-time or end up in a courtroom, we’re now looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars for just one case.

Here are what trial costs look like: On day 4 of a trial, the state starts paying each juror $50 a day, that $700 dollars a day for the full panel. Last year the state spent more than $2.5 million dollars on jurors alone.

Take recently freed Charles Wilhite who underwent two separate trials, ultimately found not guilty. The state spent a total of $10,500 on his jurors alone. And it doesn’t stop there, Ornstein says expert witnesses and DNA testing are becoming more common in trials and both are pricey.

The county budgets to spend a combined total of $100 thousand dollars each year on that, and none of this includes time spent in jail which is $116 a day at the Hampden County House of Corrections in Ludlow.

Right now there are 13 hundred people in there, which means today you paid roughly $160 thousand dollars, and will pay more than 4 million by the end of the month on average.

Social organizations in Springfield say the cost of crime is skyrocketing out of control but there are ways to help people and curb costs for taxpayers.

“The state and the county is willing to spend $3,000 a month to keep someone who can’t make bail, $300 bail, or $400 dollars bail, in jail, what kind of priority is that? If that money was put into community based, community-run wellness programs for these same people, it would be less-costly,” said Lois Ahrens, Director of the Real Cost of Prisons project.

All in all crime costs us millions of dollars every year. However, prosecutors say costs won’t keep them from bringing dangerous criminals to justice.

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