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CRI ME IN AMERI CA …

200 9

will this trend spread to the rest of the world?



URBAN –adjective 1. of, pertaining to, or designating a city or town. 2. living in a city. 3.
characteristic of or accustomed to cities; citified: He is an urban type.
1. Crime is concentrated in urban America.

Surprisingly, you are


less likely to be
assaulted, raped,
robbed, burglarized or
murdered today than
you were in 1980 -
unless you are a
minority resident of an
urban neighborhood.
For most Americans,
all rates for crimes
except auto theft are
down.
All crimes including homicide are up!

• For urban minority Americans,


rates for all crimes including
homicide are up. The death
rate by violence for African-
American males living in these
areas is about 10 times the
national average. And inner-
city African-Americans
experience much higher rates
of rape, robbery, burglary and
aggravated assault than do
whites.
2. Urban crime is increasingly concentrated in inner-city neighborhoods .

• Crime rates in Milwaukee's


most impoverished
neighborhoods, for example,
are more than 20 times higher
than crime rates in other parts
of the city. Nationally, such
neighborhoods have a
disproportionate share of drug
abuse, welfare dependency,
illegitimacy and breakdown of
the social fabric.
3. Conditions that foster crime are spreading to poor white communities, too.

• Children who grow up in inner-


city neighborhoods grow up
among deviant and criminalistic
adults, many of them felons, ex-
felons and drug addicts.
Children become radically
present-oriented, unable to defer
immediate gratifications. They
also become radically self-
regarding, unable to feel the joy
and pain of others (least of all
strangers) and capable of
committing the most vicious
acts without the slightest pangs
of conscience.
A white underclass?

• There is evidence to
suggest that all young
Americans, not just
poor inner-city youth,
are increasingly
disposed to these
character defects. A
"white underclass" is
developing.
4. More and more crime involves chronic
violent offenders under 18 years of age.

• Males under age 18 are


committing unprecedented
numbers of violent and other
serious crimes. Juvenile arrests
for violent crime increased 50
percent from 1987 to 1991,
twice the increase for persons
18 years of age or older. The
increase in juvenile crime has
been concentrated largely
among young African-
American males
5. A small fraction of juvenile criminals commit a majority of
all juvenile crimes and become adult career criminals.

A famous study conducted by


Marvin Wolfgang and
associates tracked the criminal
histories of all boys born in
Philadelphia in 1958. It found
that "chronic offenders" (five
or more police contacts)
constituted only 6 percent of
the cohort and 18 percent of
the delinquents. Another study
found that about 5 percent of
all juvenile delinquents
commit a large number of
crimes or commit violent
crimes or both. On average,
these "serious violent"
offenders commit 132
delinquent offenses per year.
The same holds true for
chronic juvenile offenders.
In 20 cities, law-
enforcement, corrections,
and school officials
targeted for arrest and
prosecution those juveniles
who had committed three
or more major crimes. A
number of these
jurisdictions experienced
sharp decreases in both
violent and property
crimes.
6. Alcohol, like drugs, drives up the crime rates.

In the 1980s, about half of


all black homicide victims
and perpetrators had been
drinking at the time of the
crime. Both alcohol and
drug addiction are
"multipliers" of crime. A
pattern of persistent
alcohol abuse is about as
likely to be associated with
chronic predatory
criminality as a pattern of
persistent drug abuse.
7. Inner-city neighborhoods and schools
aren't "target-hardened" against crime.
Most Americans don't live
in neighborhoods where
there's a liquor store on
virtually every corner nor
are they surrounded by
liquor stores, abandoned
buildings and other
magnets of criminal
activity. Instead, they live
in "target-hardened"
environments, such as
houses with doors that lock
and public places that are
well lit at night.
There are many ways to
target-harden inner-city
neighborhoods and schools -
evicting persons in trouble
with the law from public
housing, automatically
expelling students who make
trouble in school, having
police assigned to shadow and
harass suspected drug dealers,
erecting concrete barriers on
streets frequented by drug
dealers and their car-bound
buyers, to name a few.
Unfortunately, however, few
such measures are taken.
8. Are more cops needed
in inner-city
neighborhoods.
Urban America has a
severe cop shortage. In the
1980s, as the inner-city
crime problem grew, many
big-city police forces
contracted. In 1991, there
were an estimated 1,750
cops on New York City's
streets at any given time.
This works out to about
one cop for every 4,000
residents.
Studies show that
increasing police
automobile patrols does
little to cut crime, and
intensive but temporary
police crackdowns rarely
succeed in reducing crime
in the long run. It is time to
experiment with
"saturation policing" -
tripling or quadrupling the
number of officers on
regular duty in and around
crime-torn inner-city
neighborhoods.
9. Most predatory street criminals spend very little time behind bars.

Three out of every four


persons under correctional
supervision in the United
States today - over three
million convicted criminals -
are not incarcerated. Instead
of probation and parole being
alternatives to incarceration,
imprisonment has become the
"alternative" sentence.

The number of state prison


commitments per 1,000
serious crimes dropped from
143 in 1981 to 131 in 1989.
Despite mandatory-sentencing
laws, most felons spend only
one-third of their sentences in
prison.
• True, incarceration costs
about $25,000 per year per
offender. But the typical
adult offender commits
more than a dozen serious
crimes a year when free.
Over 93 percent of state
prisoners are violent
criminals, repeat criminals
(two or more felony
convictions) or violent
repeat criminals.

Incarceration, however,
should not mean
"warehousing." Some
prison time can be used
productively. Studies have
found that certain types of
prison-based drug
treatment, work and
education programs do
reduce recidivism rates.
10. Reducing crime requires reducing the number of at-risk juveniles.

To accomplish this, we should


experiment with a wide variety of
measures that would increase
employment opportunities and
discourage the breakdown of the
family.

One suggestion for reducing the


number of at-risk children is to
provide families in underclass
neighborhoods with public funds
to enable them to send their
children to boarding schools from
an early age. The boarding
schools would provide both a safe
environment and a sound
mechanism for socialization -
inculcating in the children such
traits as politeness, cooperation,
kindness, hard work and self-
control.
CRIME #2 : another Opinion

The United States calls itself the land of the free, but you’d
never know it from looking at our justice system. To resolve
our great economic, environmental, and psychological
misery - to shake out systemic ecological ills - will take an
empowered, educated nation.
The prison system is yet another illustrative
example of why we must rethink our priorities.

For every U.S. dollar spent on higher


education, 60 cents are spent on
corrections.
We have the highest number of prisoners per capita (1 in 140), and the absolute
highest number of people behind bars in the world (over 2 million people).
With over 2 million Americans in jail or prison,
we’re half a million ahead of China, whose
population is quadruple ours. Supersize it!
Not exactly #1. For being the most prosperous country in the
world, education spending in the United States ranks a paltry
#38 in the entire world, lagging far behind Jamaica,
Denmark and Cuba…which holds the top spot. Yes, Cuba.
And who are these heinous criminals anyway?
One fifth of prisoners are locked up for non-violent personal drug charges.
Incarceration is frequently for marijuana or painkiller use; if that seems
arbitrary, you’re not alone in being confused. (We don’t seem to learn from
our mistakes, however. Remember Prohibition?)
It costs between $20,000 and $30,000 per person, per year to keep
someone behind bars, and about $65,000 for senior citizens. You could
easily send a few deserving kids to state college for that much money.
You can bet someone is making money off of this: our government
contracts management of prisons to private corporations. Corporations
need to turn a profit, and the more prisoners they have, the more money
they’ll get. It’s big business.
It only makes sense that
prisoners receiving education behind bars are less likely to
return to a life of crime upon release. Why not spend more on
education in the first place? An ounce of prevention is worth
a pound of cure.
We have some big choices to make as a country: it’s clear that education
can help to prevent an individual from entering a life of crime. It’s also
clear that non-violent drug charges have imprisoned a great many
Americans at high taxpayer cost, and the War On Drugs has long been
considered a failure. What is the real purpose of prisons anyway:
containment, rehabilitation or profit?
What are your
thoughts regarding
this information?
What changes
would you like to
see enacted?