Crime in America 2011 Realities

Monday, January 31, 2011

I came across the following facts within The National Crime Prevention Council’s Crime Prevention Matters booklet. Studies suggest reasons for concern that crime rates will climb again:

  •   Mortgage foreclosures have reached crisis levels in many communities – and neighborhoods with higher rates of foreclosures tend to experience more violent crime.
  • Consumer confidence is trending downward – and as consumers lose confidence, crime and especially robbery and property crime, tend to rise.

A recent survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors confirms that these factors are, indeed, driving increase in crime in many cities:
  • 42 percent of the 142 responding cities reported that they are seeing increased crime as a result of current economic conditions.
  • 29 percent reported an increase in crime resulting from the mortgage foreclosures crisis and the increase in the number of vacant and abandoned properties.

Noted criminologist Alfred Blumstein sees additional reasons for concern:

  • It is increasingly difficult for young people lacking high school or college diplomas to find satisfactory employment.
  • Social services have been substantially reduced with shrinking budgets at all levels of government.
  • Law enforcement responsibilities have expanded to include terrorism as well as crime.
  • Emerging drug markets may provoke violence, “especially if the principal participants in those markets are from communities with a strong tradition for violence.”
  • An estimated 650,000 prisoners will be returning to communities each year.
  • Guns are more prevalent in certain disadvantaged communities than they were before the crack cocaine era of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In fact
, the nationwide decline in violent crime came to a halt in 2005. Since then, the violent crime rate has varied somewhat from year to year, mostly recently posting a decrease of 0.7 percent in 2007. However, national statistics mask the reality in some cities, which have experienced alarming spikes in violent crime: 45 of 56 cities responding to a survey by the Police Executive Research Forum reported an increase in robberies between 2004 and 2006. The robbery rate jumped more than 12 percent, and aggravated assaults with a firearm increased nearly 10 percent. Similarly, half of the 124 cities responding to the U.S. Conference of Mayors survey reported increases in violence among the young people over the last year.

This is not the time to become complacent about crime in America.