Grits For Breakfast ran a post this weekend on the way the criminalization of gambling in Texas functions as “an example of irrationally punitive criminal justice policies actually making us less safe.”
Scott writes that Houston has between 300 and 400 illegal gambling houses, places that cops are continually having to sweep through “because violent criminals target game rooms where ‘operators handle large amounts of cash and most patrons are female or elderly.'” The irony, he notes, is that
there’s hardly anyplace safer in America than inside a legal casino, there’s so much security at most of them. But because Texas outlawed these machines for gambling purposes, a black market formed. So what should be a safe, consensual business relationship for gamblers becomes a dangerous and shady one.
The same phenomenon, of course, occurs around illegal drugs as the criminalization of an activity makes life more dangerous for everyone. And the same possibility for reform exists through the use of a regulated market approach. The trick, however, lies in convincing politicians that we control most human behavior far more effectively through regulation than we do through prohibition.