Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Walmart’s “Restorative Justice” Endangers Public Without Reducing Crime
Walmart has had an enormous crime problem going back decades.
This isn't new; however last August there was a massive surge in reporting on this crime problem in the mainstream press. Prior to that there have been numerous reports from alternative media outlets that have reported on the major crime problems or a handful of isolated reports from traditional media outlets that usually only report about a small fraction of the problem at local levels.
Instead of recognizing the root causes of crime and preventing them, even when it is very simple, they’ve come up with something they call “Restorative Justice” which seems to mean that when they catch a thief instead of calling the police they threaten them into signing on for an on line course that costs them four hundred dollars or five hundred if they can’t pay up front. According to one source, listed below, instead of paying a private corporation to handle their program “CEC (Corrective Education Co.) pays them for each participant who signs up,” which seems to imply that they’re trying to turn their crime problem into a profit opportunity, instead of something that should be reduced in the most effective way possible.
When it comes to reducing crime it doesn't help to worship the God of economic growth like economists, politicians, and media pundits seem to do.
For profit prisons and other so-called crime reduction institutions, including this one, have an obvious conflict of interest since they increase profits when business grows providing them with an incentive to misrepresent their progress, especially if there isn't full disclosure.
Privatization of the Justice System is happening with minimum of scrutiny from the majority of the public and the corporations involved donate a lot to campaigns and, in some cases like Walmart, buy an enormous amount of ads giving both the media and the political establishment a motive to look the other way, which they do when alternative media outlets don't expose it.
In the case of Walmart they had at least one hundred and four shootings last year, which thanks to a surge in shootings during the holidays broke a record. There were at least an additional forty-two in the first four months of this year and eight so far this month. This clearly implies we're on the way to breaking the new record this year!
If as they claim shoplifting reports are down as a result of this Restorative Justice program it clearly isn't helping more violent crime and a more thorough review of arson stabbings carjackings and other violent crime will almost certainly show they're rising as well.
(Making Change at Walmart is asking If you or someone you know has gone through @Walmart's "Restorative Justice" program for first-time suspected shoplifters, send us a DM. 03/30/2017 to ensure that it isn’t doing more harm than good.)
As I reported in a previous article about Wal-Mart’s crime problem, Rolling Back Safety more than prices? there have been at least two statistical studies showing that Walmart has worse crime than other stores, even Big-Box stores. Walmart has refuted the accuracy of both these studies and denied any responsibility for any of their crime problems. As my previous article indicates their denials have little or no credibility and they refuse to acknowledge some of the most obvious causes of their crime problems including oppressive working conditions.
That article pointed out a dozen cases where employees were involved in shootings hostage situations, fist fights, bomb threats and many other conflicts that are often directly related to oppressive working conditions; one of the most obvious examples was a worker in Reno Nevada who shot three of the managers and told the police it was directly related to oppressive working conditions. The same store had another employee a year later threatened to blow the place up and shoot the boss. In many other cases there may be other connections that aren’t quite as clear or aren't reported in the media.
There are also many similar problems with disgruntled customers that are outraged at the low quality of service, or misleading promises from advertisements or Black Friday shopping promotions. Looking through enough Walmart crime reports it is clear that many of the activities that lead to their high crime problems are easy to recognize, if they want to recognize them.
Where's the “Restorative Justice” for disgruntled workers that are subject to oppressive union busting tactics or for customers that are fed up with deceptive advertisements or poor service?
When many of these people organize Walmart is extremely slow in addressing legitimate concerns and, instead of acting impartially, the government routinely uses tax payer money to suppress protests at Walmart.
Last night before I finished this article there was a terrorist attack in Britain at an Ariana Grande concert and the calls demanding that everyone, or at least all high profile pundits and politicians, condemn these brutal attacks have been repeated over and over already, as they often are after attacks like this; so I condemn those attacks!
However these same demands for universal condemnation typically don’t come for wars based on lies like the Iraq invasion, nor do they include demands for the prosecution of those responsible for wars based on lies; and the Muslims know that these universal condemnations are extremely one sided, which might be part of the reason for additional terrorist attacks since then.
There are similar condemnations for poor people committing violent acts or even shoplifting; however these universal condemnations don’t apply to those in political power that distort the research so that the most effective solutions to violent crime or terrorism aren’t implemented.
Therefore in addition to condemning the terrorist attacks I also condemn extremely one sided demands for universal condemnation, without acknowledging the contributions that the most powerful have provided in inciting both the terrorist attacks and violent crime by people with little or no resources or access to education or economic opportunity!
One of the biggest problems they have is of course with shoplifting. It isn’t hard to recognize that their store design and lack of employees to watch the merchandise is a major contributing cause to this as well. Thirty years ago almost all groceries stores or department stores were much smaller and customers had to go through the exit door right in front of the service department or some workers that would easily see if they were taking our enormous volumes of shoplifted items. Now the store design is different for many Big-Box Stores and it is hard if not impossible for workers to keep track of where anyone is, even with cameras everywhere.
Surprise, surprise, dozens if not hundreds of people are walking out with entire shopping carts full of merchandise. Sometimes they go back over and over again until they get caught.
I am not making this up hardly a month goes by without at least a few if not half a dozen or more showing up and that adds up quickly. There's no way of knowing how many there are that didn't get noticed.
They also have an enormous problem with self-check-out lanes that were intended to save money. They already knew that they were having large crime problems before they installed this on a massive scale. Surprise, surprise, there’s an enormous amount of crime at the self-check-out lanes including theft and angry customers because they have one problem after another with the checking out and there are often few people to help them when these problems happen. At times Walmart responds to this by watching people on camera and may have spent as much money as they allegedly save by trying to catch thieves in the act. If they report this to the police then taxpayers pick up an enormous amount of the tab for what should be considered institutional entrapment.
The majority of the public has no way of knowing how much crime is increasing at the self-check-out lanes; however Walmart almost certainly has those records. Walmart has a history of keeping this information secret and it may be protected by proprietary information laws which means that people that have access to this information would be banned by law from showing it to the public if it shows that they’re increasing profits by endangering customers or increasing police costs dealing with their crime problems. If that is the case and they keep it secret it wouldn’t be the first time; “The High cost Of Low Prices” disclosed that they once suppressed an internal study that showed they could increase safety by having a security guard patrol the parking lot so they could avoid hiring one saving money without a public relations disaster, until it was leaked.
These are just a few of the most obvious causes of their high crime problem and they’re simply not hard to recognize or confirm.
The obvious thing to do might seem to recognize the root causes of crime and prevent them by reversing cuts to save on employees having them handle registers as they used to, design stores so that thieves can’t walk out with entire shopping carts full over and over again and stop oppressing their own workers and misleading customers that are so angry.
Does Walmart do this? Of course not; they’re in total denial and for one reason or another so is the majority of the political establishment and the media that refuses to report on the obvious.
Anyone that reports on these obvious solutions is often treated as fringe and can’t get any attention from the traditional media establishment.
We’re just a bunch or Conspiracy Theorists so perhaps you shouldn’t pay attention to us, unless of course the evidence is overwhelming, which it is, although it is rarely reported in the traditional press which collects enormous amounts of money from Walmart and other Big-Box stores in ads or by politicians who collect enormous amounts of campaign contributions from Walmart or other large corporations.
Actually an enormous amount of the evidence to Walmart's crime problems doesn't fit the strictest definition of conspiracy at all, since it isn't completely secret. However it is often only reported at local news media outlets or researched by alternative media outlets. The mass media rarely reports on the biggest problems caused by their advertisers, including Wal-Mart or oil and insurance companies.
Besides it’s not just conspiracy theorists that have researched this problem there are still some good reporters and sociologists around that manage to get enough funds for research that doesn’t cater overwhelmingly to corporate interests, including Stacy Mitchell who reported on work from several sociologists and indicated in the following excerpt that went to press before Walmart’s crime problem got so bad that even the traditional media felt they had to report on it for a little while. The following excerpts went to press in 2006 and could have been used to recognize and reverse their crime problem, if Walmart or the political establishment were willing to listen:
Al Norman has also been reporting on their crime problems for years including his article, Surfing Wal-Mart’s Crime Wave 05/14/2016 Unfortunately neither Walmart or the political establishment is willing to listen to researchers that look into the subject with the safety of the public in mind instead of way to maximize profits for large corporations. these private security firms are often involved in many lawsuits that also only get reported relatively briefly like the following article from the same corporation that contracts with Walmart although this incident took place at Goodwill Industries:
Wait a minute Goodwill Industries the charity contracting with a for profit company like this? Well, Google "Goodwill Industries store lawsuit," apparently they're not nearly as good as many us wanted to believe, this is just one of many problems for them as well but here's the article:
All this trouble for an alleged theft of $6.97? Before the retail industry consolidated into a small number of oligarchies small businesses had much more basic sense than to turn something like that into a federal case. But this is very common for Big-Box stores where all the decisions are made in far away corporate offices concerned only about profits. Walmart has had problems with a security officer chasing and beating a shoplifter for a 59c donut and shootings incidents involving theft of sandpaper or underwear.
Tax-payers foot an enormous amount of the bill for Walmart's high crime problem! This is what they consider a "negative externality," which means that Walmart doesn't have to take these expenses into consideration when figuring out their profits so as long as no one pays attention they don't have to worry about it; however this should be considered another enormous subsidy to Walmart from the taxpayers, who often give them additional tax breaks that small businesses don't get. This is one of the points that Stacy Mitchell made in her book. There are an enormous amount of people outraged with Walmart; which should mean that they would be at a major disadvantage when it comes to attracting customers. However as she explains in her book they take advantage of their political connections to get breaks their competitors don't have running them out of business; then once they dominate the market they don't have to be as competitive and cities that give them those tax breaks lose revenue from small businesses that don't get them and get stuck with the tab for their high crime problems.
However if you Google "Walmart Restorative Justice" the vast majority of articles from the traditional media ignore many of the most important and obvious problems with Walmart crime, including, Walmart's 'Second Chance' Program for Shoplifters, 11/01/2016 which is supposed to be a magazine with expertize in security. This article implies their solution to this problem is a "the six-hour education course," and "CEC offers scholarships to those who are unable to afford the $400 fee. CEC says that less than two percent of shoplifters who complete the CEC educational program reoffend, compared with estimates as high as 80 percent for those who do not participate in a restorative justice program."
I’ve often said that ridicule or appeals to emotion are highly inappropriate methods of debunking false claims or propaganda.
They’re going to solve crime by giving them a six hour course; they don’t mention this is an online course in this article nor do they mention the lawsuits, they’re facing or that this “scholarship” means they sign an agreement to pay and additional $100 in payments and that they could face debt collectors. They don’t mention the enormous amounts of additional crime problems that Walmart have and make it appear as if they’re trying to do the shoplifter a favor.
They claim “less than two percent… reoffend.” The author of this article is supposed to have some kind of security expertise. She doesn’t raise any doubts about this claim or ask for the data behind it or how they came to this conclusion. Nor does she inquire about how they know the shoplifters for this program are non-violent offenders.
Some good child psychologists, sociologists and criminologists spend an enormous amount of time explaining how early child abuse leads to escalating violence and other social problems, abandoned inner cities, poverty economic inequality, lack of education and many other problems lead to crime and other social problems. They often explain that improved mental health opportunities early child care and counseling all can help reduce long term crime.
This can be slow and tedious and it often takes a lot of time; however when these social problems are addressed they do a much better job reducing crime than waiting until it's too late and expanding prisons after the fact.
We're supposed to believe they do much better than these good researchers at a for profit corporation that does this better with a "six-hour education course?"
Anyone that spends a moderate amount of time look at recidivism rates knows that less than two percent is a truly astounding rate that is incredibly hard to believe and might want to know more details about how they accomplished this with a six hour on-line course.
Some people that read this article without thinking it through might not recognize these obvious problems and many more; however anyone with a minimal amount of knowledge, even without a college education, in crime prevention would be highly skeptical of these claims.
This is an incredibly obvious propaganda piece, and many of the other articles about this subject also ignore most of the problems with Walmart’s crime problems as well or that this company is more interested in making a profit than they are with reducing crime.
I still don't think that ridicule or appeals to emotion are the most scientific way to debunk claims like this but if they can't even do a better job lying than this then it is hard to resist. Walmart often uses ridicule to dismiss their critics; but their arguments are so bad that hardly anyone with a minimum amount of critical thinking skills believes them. Perhaps, only those that are accustomed to blindly believing authority figures, and accept Walmarts so-called experts as authority figures are inclined to believe their rebuttals; or perhaps only those that simply don't pay enough attention to the details.
But if you don’t think I successfully avoided ridicule or appeals to emotion in my rebuttal feel free to do your own fact checking.
Most of these articles talk about how this program reduces calls to the police; but they neglected to report about these calls to the police while they were rising as Walmart was expanding. For a long time the traditional media remained mostly silent about this subject. Occasionally there have been a handful of articles scattered around the country going back decades, in the past four years they often go at least four or five months with few or none before a police department speaks out about it; when this happens it isn’t uncommon for two or three departments around d the country to speak out at the same time, but only at the local level. The study from “Wake Up Walmart” "Is Wal-Mart Safe?" (PDF), compiled a few statements from articles that go back at least five years before the study was done in 2006. Unfortunately like the study that was done Wal-Mart’s crime problem, Rolling Back Safety more than prices? three years ago Walmart simply denied all the problems in the face of an enormous amount of evidence and governments did little or nothing to force them and crime has gotten significantly worse since then, possibly contributing to their record breaking number of shootings last year and possibly again this year with even more.
Time Magazine’s article Low Prices, High Crime: Inside Walmart’s Plan to Crack Down on Shoplifting 11/1/2016 is slightly better than the vast majority of them reporting on a few of the other crimes and at least mentioning the lawsuits pending but even this one doesn’t mention the vast majority of their crime problems and ignore the root causes of crime and how to prevent it.
Now that most media outlets security corporations or any other related business are run by for-profit organizations that often have the same ideology about privatizing everything control a large portion of the information we get about so-called educational material it often seems as if scientific research has turned into a commodity. Alleged scientific research that looks like it can increase profits, at least in the short term, gets financed and reported far and wide, regardless of how credible it is.
Research that sorts through the details and gets good peer review from sincere people are often relegated to the fringes and reported only where a small number of people can see it. If we can’t get more reliable peer reviewed research to make our decisions it will be a disaster one way or another. If we allow so-called experts like Diane Ritchey, Mike Lamb, Darrell Huntsman, who contributed to the article cited above, or many others repeating similar propaganda to control policy decisions about crime then they might get rich temporarily but it will be at the expense of the vast majority of the public which will have to deal with the increased crime that results as a result of their incompetent recommendations designed to make them rich without doing much if anything to reduce crime, and possibly making it much worse.
There is something seriously wrong when for profit security organizations are recommending policies that will put as at risk but increase their profits and enable them to expand their business.
According to "Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics" By Marie Gottschalk, Walmart is also one of the corporations profiting off of forced labor in the private prison industry. They’ve been buying produce that was grown by prison labor in the south and may have also bought other prison goods. They’ve financed the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has been heavily promoting for profit prisons, and even after it was exposed and most other corporations stopped financing them they continued to do so. Of course they also have a long history of importing good made by slaves in China and other oppressive regimes.
Most small businesses are not in a position to benefit from prison labor, and frankly the decent ones wouldn’t even want to. This gives Walmart a competitive advantage and adds to the unfair competition tactics exposed by Stacy Mitchell in her book that enabled them to dominate the market even though an enormous amount of their own customers hate them.
Instead of passing laws that protect the public and reduce crime elected officials pass laws that enable an oligarchy system and endanger the public.
These are just a handful of the articles available on this including what I consider the best ones; however the vast majority of the people that are writing about this are involved in the security or media industry and many of them seem to support privatization of government services to for profit organizations. One response to the following article said, “Walmart needs to find a way to turn shoplifting into a profit center,” which seems to be the attitude of many educated professionals, that seem to be very selective about the fact’s they’re willing to acknowledge. However if you look past the article and the first several responses there are a few that raise legitimate questions which I reposted here:
However in all fairness, even though I’m not a fan of Walmart, many of the biggest contributing causes of high crime rates, whether it is in their store or not, have little or nothing to do with Walmart. As I have pointed out in numerous articles one of the biggest contributing causes to crime, especially violent crime is early child abuse including corporal punishment that teaches children to respond to their problems with violence. Another is abandoned inner cities; however Walmart expanded mostly in abandoned rural areas before trying to start store in big cities, where some politicians especially in places like New York where they still won’t allow them to open resisted them or they waited until the rural areas were saturated before opening in cities. Scott Wolfe and criminologist David Pyrooz, the authors of the study I reviewed in Wal-Mart’s crime problem, Rolling Back Safety more than prices? came to some similar conclusions, although they didn’t go into the same details.
They said that “Walmart tends to expand in communities with less social capital — and less likelihood of citizen opposition — and in areas with higher-than-average crime rates.” This is true as indicated by the following two articles that show that some the states they expanded the most in also have the highest murder rates, incarceration rates, and the most support of corporal punishment in schools among other things:
According to the FBI Murder Rates listed at Death Penalty Information Center five of the states that spend the most at Walmart are among the ten states with the highest murder rates; two more come in at eleventh and thirteenth; the other three are in the lower half but not the bottom ten. Five of these states are also among the ten states with the highest incarceration rates, three more are in the top half and only one of the remaining two are in the bottom ten. This correlation is consistent with studies showing Walmart has more crime than other stores; however it is highly unlikely that Walmart directly influences these high rates. It is more likely that they come from a common cause. These states have higher use of corporal punishment and poverty and lower education available to them; and they’re less able to stand up to oligarchies as indicated in the study previously reviewed Wal-Mart’s crime problem, Rolling Back Safety more than prices?
Six out of these nineteen states are among the ten states with the highest murder rates; an additional three are close and have been in the top ten sates in the past few years; none are in the bottom ten nor have they been in the past few years, although Wyoming came close consistently. Fourteen out of nineteen of these states are also among the only nineteen states that still allow corporal punishment in schools. Ten out of the top eleven states for incarceration rates among the states where Walmart is the biggest employer. An additional five are in the top half, two more are only barely in the bottom half and none are in the bottom seventeen. (Source for incarceration rates listed in "Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics" By Marie Gottschalk 2015 PDF
There is also a clear correlation with religious faith and high business or employment at Walmart. Most of the states that have a lot of business at Walmart are among the most faithful and most of the least religious states are not; with one notable exception, Utah which ranks high among participation at church services, although it is slightly lower when people consider “religion an important part of your daily life.” Utah is the only state that is mostly Mormon and Mormons are the only religion where the leader of the religion Gordon Hinkley came out strongly against the use of corporal punishment. Utah is the only one of the most religious states to routinely get into the bottom ten when it comes to murder rates. However even though they have fewer Walmarts than other religious states they do seem to have a fair amount of police calls to the Walmart’s that they do have. New England is probably the area with the least amount of crime at Walmart’s and four out of six New England states routinely make the bottom ten states when it comes to murder rates.
These religions, including Mormons all teach followers to obey authority and they’re much less likely to support unions.
It is unlikely that Walmart directly causes this correlation with high murder rates; however it does take advantage of the authoritarian attitudes in states that still use corporal punishment. It also relies heavily on union busting tactics and other authoritarian methods which almost certainly contributes to these high murder rates and Walmart’s high crime rates, so it probably does indirectly impact both crime at Walmart and murder rates in the states where it does business most.
If you check the Walmart crime reports below and other old ones then you might find that there are plenty of times where armed robbers don’t even bring their own weapons; instead they just steal machetes, axes, knives, baseball bats or other weapons and pull them out if they’re approached by security when they walk out with carts full of goods. There have also been plenty of cases where their guns, which apparently aren’t always kept very secure, have been stolen. In one example, a few years back, they had a new security case to lock up the guns; the keys were taped to the back. It should have been obvious that the keys were supposed to be removed before displaying the guns in the store but just in case they wrote on the case a reminder to remove them.
No one read it, apparently, or perhaps those that read it assumed management would take care of it.
If no one found the keys and stole the guns I would have no way of knowing this.
I’m not positive but I think that might have been the time that stolen guns from Walmart were used in a standoff with police nearby.
If they encouraged reasonable discretion in their workers and hired more management with critical thinking skills they could avoid many problems like this; but they prefer blind loyalty from people that aren’t inclined to stand up to authority.
I did a series of articles in 2014 about leading causes of violent crime in 2014 including the ones mentioned as well as education, income inequality, gambling, Union busting, and the death penalty listed below:
Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows
Does lack of education increase violent crime? Religion?
How much does Income Inequality Affects Crime Rates?
States with high murder rates have larger veteran populations
Teach a soldier to kill and he just might
The tragedy of gambling politics in United States
How does gambling and gun control impact violent crime?
Politics, not technology, caused botched executions
Democrats do a bad job on crime; Republicans and the Media are worse!!
Politicians increase crime; Grass roots efforts reduce crime; Politicians steal the credit
Life Insurance and media companies are encouraging lots of murders
Union Busting adds to corrupt bureaucracy and incites crime
The following are a list of the surge of articles that came out starting last August about Walmart’s high crime rates along with links to the monthly Walmart Crime reports which show large samplings of their major crime incidents. These links go back to August of 2013, although the only ones listed below are since the surge of articles; however you can find them by searching the archives at the beginning of each month going back to 2013.
Wal-Mart Crime report August 2016
KSL Investigation uncovers Wal-Mart generates highest number of police calls in many Utah cities 08/12/2016
Okla. Walmart’s Out-of-Control Crime Problem Is Driving Police Crazy 08/17/2016
Violent crimes at Walmart top 200 this year as police slam giant retailer for security practices 08/17/2016
Springfield Missouri Police, Wal-Mart Cooperate In Attempt To Reduce Theft At Stores 08/18/2016
Report: NC Walmart is hot bed for crime 08/19/2016
A different Target-vs.-Wal-Mart measurement: Crime 08/22/2016
In Portland Oregon area, police called to Walmart twice as much as Fred Meyer 08/22/2016
Working 4 You: Arkansas Walmart Faces Criticism for Call Loads to Police 08/22/2016
South Amarillo Tx. Walmart hoping to fix security issues 08/24/2016
Walmart's crime problem keeps police busy 08/31/2016
Wal-Mart Crime report September 2016
Wal-Mart takes its own approach to shoplifting 09/24/2016
Walmart, in parts of the metro, ranks high on number of police calls 09/29/2016
Wal-Mart Crime report October 2016
Coronado Mall, Walmart among top places Albuquerque NM police are called out to 10/14/2016
Walmarts are still hotspots of crime, but Springfield Missouri police see progress 10/25/2016
WFAA: Wal-Mart tops list of police calls in five North Texas cities 10/26/2016
One retailer keeps Minn. Twin Cities cops most busy, and it's Walmart 10/27/2016
Wal-Mart Crime report November 2016 Black Friday Shoot Outs
Walmart keeps local police departments busy including Las Vegas 11/22/2016
Wal-Mart Crime report December 2016
Activists launch campaign highlighting Walmart crime stats, law enforcement impact 12/07/2016
Wal-Mart's high call rate keeps Sioux Falls SD police busy 12/16/2016
SC Town Walmart sees slight increase in shoplifting 12/29/2016
Minn. Walmart called local police more than 600 times this year 12/28/2016
Wal-Mart Crime report January 2017
Wal-Mart Crime report February 2017
Walmart tops list of Colorado Springs businesses with most police calls 02/06/2017
Police calls to Western NY Walmarts Cost $400,000+ 02/08/2017
WREG investigates the high number of Walmart calls to Memphis Tenn. Police Department 02/27/2017
Wal-Mart Crime report March 2017
Theft tops long list of police calls to Ohio Walmart last year 03/13/2017
Police crack down after rise in thefts at Coweta Okla. Walmart 03/16/2017
Minn. Brooklyn Center Walmart Launches Partnership with Police to Prevent Crime Around Store 03/25/2017
Dickson Tenn. police: Walmart thefts drain police resources 03/31/2017
Wal-Mart Crime report April 2017