Violent crime has been commonplace in Latin America over the past decades. While existing research has made progress in explaining the rationale and outcomes of government coercive strategies against crime, it has overlooked the non-coercive strategies implemented to improve public security. It is argued in this article that political authorities make human capital enhancement efforts to shape actors’ incentives about criminal activity and mitigate crime. Accordingly, it is hypothesised that violent crime increases human capital enhancement efforts, and that the effect of violent crime on human capital enhancement efforts is larger when left-oriented governments are in power because they stress actors’ motivations over windows of opportunities as the main drivers of crime. Support for these hypotheses is found in a sample of Latin American democracies in the period 1990–2007.