Violent Crime Continues 30-Year Low | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Violent Crime Continues 30-Year Low

This story didn't get much attention when it broke a couple of weeks ago, so it's worth revisiting.

picFrom CNN.com:

Since 1993, violent crime as measured by victim surveys has fallen by 57 percent and property crime by 50 percent. That has included a 9 percent drop in violent crime from 2001-2002 to 2003-2004.

The 2004 violent crime rate -- assault, sexual assault and armed robbery -- was 21.4 victims for every 1,000 people age 12 and older. That amounts to about one violent crime victim for every 47 U.S. residents.

Furthermore, over three-quarters of violent crimes were committed by unarmed attackers:

In 2004, just under one-quarter of all violent crimes were committed by an offender armed with a gun, knife or other weapon.

And per capita, the homicide rate is the lowest it has been since the late 1960s.

The actual report can be read here.

It's still a rough old world, and nobody can say with a straight face that Jackson doesn't have a crime problem. But if the race-baiting "superpredator" theory ever had any credibility, it's certainly gone now.

Somebody tell Pat Buchanan.

Previous Comments

ID
103123
Comment

Something else to tell Pat: People are imprisoned for nonviolent crimes every now and then. Quoth the wingnut: Yet, according to The Washington Times, the stereotype is rooted in truth. The Times concludes its Bennett article with this stark paragraph: "A study last year by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics said that about 44 percent of state and federal prisoners in 2003 were black, 35 percent were white, and 19 percent were Hispanic, and 2 percent were of other races." Now, since the white population is six times the black population in America, but blacks outnumber whites in prison five-to-four, algebra tells us violent crime in black America is seven times as great as in the white community. Hold it, kemosabe; your math is off. While I feel comfortable assuming that most convicted violent offenders are non-white (because of the income gap), crimes like embezzlement, fraud, marijuana possession, burglary, grand theft, larceny, etc. etc. etc. are not generally described as violent. Except by idiot right-wing columnists trying to generalize about the characteristics of other races. And what a genius to do this in a column where he's ostensibly defending his buddy Bill Bennett. Here's a clue, Pat: If you take two right turns, you go backwards.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-10-08T03:02:30-06:00
ID
103124
Comment

Nice picture, Tom! :-P I've come to the conclusion that people will think whatever they WANT to think, even if the truth is staring them in the face. We all know that our judicial system is more likely to imprison African Americans for the same crimes that Caucasians would get probation for, and Mr. Beef Patty didn't bring that up. Ignorance is bliss, and stupidity is forever.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2005-10-08T07:29:25-06:00
ID
103125
Comment

Thanks for posting this, Tom. There are so many important points to make here, and you have made several of them. It is vital to understand that crime has been steadily dropping in the country for several systemic reasons that are often ignored in drive-by stories: High on the list are better education for more people (actually showing that the public-education system is working, not the opposite and the fact that rampant and random hate crimes against blacks is no longer societally acceptable (not that nearly all of that violence was recorded in the first place). The honest truth is that until just over 30 years ago, white males in this country were some of the most violent creatures on the planet. If there were ever human super-predators, it was them. Too many had been taught and raised to think that violence against blacks was just fine and dandy, and they could strike at will, especially in the Jim Crow south. And here in Mississippi, we had the worst human "super-predators" with the highest numbers of lynchings of any state. The other horrifying fact was that white society, in turn, told (and still tells) young blacks over and over again that they were violent, good for nothing, couldn't be saved (the superpredator thing -- ironic, eh?). They were ghettoized into inner cities and "across the track" neighborhoods where everything is substandard. That is, we were teaching young blacks to be violent. After all, that's what they were/are good at (according to Robertson's and talk-radio logic) It really doesn't take a genuis to see the result of that system, and to understand that it is going to take society to work the results of such horrendous beliefs, and the outright assault on black culture, out of our society. Does that mean that I think violence committed by blacks is OK based on history? Hell, no. But it also means that simplistic bullsh!t like Pat Robertson espouses is plain stupid and ignorant and based on logic only based on hicks who don't care to understand what actually causes violence. No one who ever wants to sound remotely intelligent would say that blacks are more prone to crime because they proportionally commit more at some point in history. If that logic holds, then white males were the most animalistic creatures ever to roam the earth up until the early 1970s, and the, er, evidence proved it. This is also why all the crime-nistas around Jackson come across as such dumba$$es (and/or bigots). Many of them actually argue with a straight face that the only way to lower crime is with a big show of force. Uh, the truth is, crime is dramatically down in Jackson based on a vareity of societal factors. It is about to the point where a show of force is not going to do a damn bit of good (leaving Melton a bit creeping around in the dark trying out what to do now, being that he doesn't seem to know anything about actually preventing crime). We are now facing crimes of passion, helplessness and the drug war, for the most part. We allow these same people easy access to weapons (every criminal is law-abiding until he/she commits their first crime, remember, and it's usually with a gun). We don't care about the conditions they live in, and then blame them every step for those conditions.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-10-08T08:29:43-06:00
ID
103126
Comment

It's one thing to react to crime -- that's a no-brainer; we have to do it and should -- but the most important things we can do to "prevent" crime are exactly what the last administration was doing: focus on community policing. Provide liasons between the community and the police department who are paid and have to do their jobs, not volunteers who aren't reliable. (And Melton's argument that he dismantled the unit because they weren't doing their jobs is hogwash; let's dismantle the office of the presidency, or the mayor, for that matter, because the people there aren't doing their jobs. Uh, no. Hire, fire, manage, not eliminate). Focus on programs in the schools, and not just Melton's little pep talks and admonitions to "give those earrings to your sisters." Deal with poverty head-on, and stop. telling. young blacks. that. they're. born. to. be. thugs. I simply have never heard a more racist statement than that one. The bottom line is, neither Melton or anyone else is going to lower Jackson crime much lower than it is with these kinds of tactics alone. He's made noises about systemic changes (crumbling houses, etc.), but has shown no evidence that he actually has a plan for doing any of those things.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-10-08T08:30:57-06:00
ID
103127
Comment

Good Lord, Tom, the racism of the wingnuts is really emerging of late. I really think these goobs believe that their (faulty) logic is so convincing that most (white) Americans will automatically agree with them without bothering to do a bit of thinking on their own! Whoa. I still maintain it's good to scare these bigoted booger-bears into the open so all can know the enemies among us. But, man. Love Buchanan's headline, "The Lynching of Bill Bennett." Does he really, truly think this helps his case, except with the determined cadre of neo-bigots in the country??? This is not the way to win friends, and influence smart people, but these folks are desperate right now, being that Katrina helped blow their cover right on off. His closer: "What did the Klan do to Black America as horrible as this? " Sigh. Will a smart, non-racist Republican Party please stand up and tell these morons to take a hike???

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-10-08T10:33:33-06:00
ID
103128
Comment

And, Tom, you made a very good point on a different thread. The truth is, many religious conservatives are NOT racist and ACTUALLY CARE about poverty. They're not going to stay with the neo-bigots, either. It'll also be interesting to watch the neo-cons who have employed the language of racism to win power, or to try to make a friend or two, try to recover from their own words when they figure out that race coding is going out of fashion (especially those whose words have been written down for posterity). Maybe they should have thought about the price of their race-coding before they did it. On that note, I would guess that Haley Barbour would have an interesting time of it should he decide to run for president. His baggage is immense on this time, and the times are changin'.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-10-08T10:37:25-06:00
ID
103129
Comment

L.W. writes: We all know that our judicial system is more likely to imprison African Americans for the same crimes that Caucasians would get probation for, and Mr. Beef Patty didn't bring that up. Yeah. He also didn't bring up that in the entire history of the label, there have only been two black serial killers--and HEAPS of white ones. If anyone qualifies as a superpredator, it would be a serial killer. Nice picture, Tom! :-P Thanks. :P I discovered how to put photos in, so most of my blog entries will probably have them from here on. Donna, I will give the right wing one, and only one, cookie: In many cases, tougher sentencing for violent offenders seems to be helping (though I am not always supportive of this kind of thing--see below). But what folks forget is that this all happened during the Clinton administration. And the increase in the number of police officers, improving the public school system, and--heck--good old fashioned integration have probably played a role. Truth is we always knew that without government support, segregation's days would be numbered. Now we are seeing blended neighborhoods (look at south Jackson, for example), and that is having a huge effect on the perception of hopelessness--the flip side of the crime perception problem. I am extremely concerned about current Republican policies, which seem to be geared towards reducing the number of officers on the streets, cutting public school funding, driving the poor into more grinding poverty, cutting government programs, and preserving segregation whenever it can be done quietly and without controversy. That's how you create crime. And sometimes I wonder if there's a self-fulfilling prophecy to the way our friends in north Jackson view black folks--they insist on neo-Dixiecrat "black menace" rhetoric while at the same time doing everything in their power to make young black men desperate and isolated. Really, except in the worst, most violent cases, I find myself worrying more about the kids who commit these crimes (and they are nearly always kids) than their victims. The Other Blog is trying to get more media attention focused on a "murder" case right now; seems somebody stole a woman's purse, she fell, broke her elbow, had to have surgery on the elbow, and died due to unexpected complications. That's extremely tragic--but, excuse me, that's not murder. That's assault and involuntary manslaughter. But if he's black, he'll probably get capital murder and either life without parole (never mind if he's 15), or the needle. And the stalker-murderers of Dee and Moore? Still sitting on their front porches 40 years later. And we wonder why some people don't have qualms about breaking the law? The law has no credibility with people who know that there's one code if you're white and another code if you're black. "Respect for the law," hell. The law needs to earn a little respect. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-10-08T12:17:49-06:00
ID
103130
Comment

(That should read robbery and involuntary manslaughter.)

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-10-08T12:20:10-06:00
ID
103131
Comment

Donna, you should write a book. ;-) You said there were societal factors that brought about a decrease in crime. Could you give me some examples? Tom, the behavior of political parties has a lot to do with why I don't belong to one. (Plus, I hate labels.) IMHO, the only reason why these groups exist is to feed off people's biases and fears in order to gain power and prestige. The more that is taken away from the weak, the stronger a monster they can become. It's kinda like "Little Shop of Horrors" - you start off with a few drops of blood, and the next thing you know, the plant is swallowing people whole.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2005-10-08T13:34:57-06:00
ID
103132
Comment

Amen, L.W. That's why I think the only cure is a political system designed for more than two candidates--let as many run as will, then have a runoff between the two top-ranked. Of course the Democratic and Republican parties will still nominate their candidates, but why not have a Green in there? Why not have a Libertarian in there? Why not have a Reform Party candidate in there? Why not have some more Independents in there? Both the Democratic and Republican parties are about maintaining their own power. They are about preserving the two-party system, come hell or high water. That desperately needs to change. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-10-08T17:09:40-06:00
ID
103133
Comment

And, incidentally, I think it inevitably will change if the Republican Party fragments, as I expect it to do over the next decade. The Christian right will not abide people like Schwarzenegger, Giuliani, Bloomberg, and so forth. Blue-state Republicans will either have to move to the right and alienate their electorate, as Pataki and Romney have done, or move to the center and alienate their base. Folks who believe they're getting their marching orders from the Lord On High don't tend to buy into compromise candidates very enthusiastically. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-10-08T17:21:47-06:00
ID
103134
Comment

Amen, L.W. That's why I think the only cure is a political system designed for more than two candidates--let as many run as will, then have a runoff between the two top-ranked. Of course the Democratic and Republican parties will still nominate their candidates, but why not have a Green in there? Why not have a Libertarian in there? Why not have a Reform Party candidate in there? Two problems here. One, it takes money to run campaigns and unless we somehow change that, it would take an extraordinary populist candidate to gain the national spotlight without that person using his or her personal wealth to get into the spotlight. A third party would win on the national level only on the strength a single candidate's extraordinary charisma. And even that probably won't create a lasting party. (Witness, for instance, Perot and the Reform Party as imperfect examples.) Second, our system is "winner takes all" which means that institutionally we've got our hands tied into this two party system, since the return on investment is pretty low for third parties. Consider that in a parlimentary system, you can get, say, 20% of the seat in parliament and you get a "seat" at the table in a coalition cabinet, etc. That might make it worth it to invest in offices and signage and to put together some cash to rally the troops. But since that ain't gonna happen here in the States, the better plan is to -- for instance -- rally behind your candidate, toss a lot of dough at him and hope that he can wrest the chairmanship of the DNC from the DLC and have your "populist revolt" from within. That way your "coalition" of different-thinking-Democrats-from-those-Other-Democrats might fight their way to power within the party, thus giving them a platform for -- perhaps -- getting their ideas across to the general public. Whew. Here's food for thought -- we (the U.S.) have never set up (or influenced the creation of) a democracy in the same way that we're set up ourselves. Japan, Germany, Isreal -- more-recent democracies tend to be proportional representative parlimentary systems with a head of state (president or, er, Emperor) and a head of government who is a member of the plurality party. Certainly our approach leads to more stable goverments as a result of our republic and rules. (Witness the scandal that a sitting president can endure.) But, it also means higher barriers to entry for smaller parties.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2005-10-08T19:09:25-06:00
ID
103135
Comment

Tom: I reread your quote above, which suggests that you're aware we'd need to "change the system" in order to get those parties to the table. So don't read my comment (starting with "Two problems here..." as condemnation of your thoughts but as a riff on them. :-)

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2005-10-08T19:14:12-06:00
ID
103136
Comment

Todd, Good post. I've thought for years that we need a parliamentary system, but I don't expect one in my lifetime. Too much vested interest. Too much inertia. But it would be superior, and we admit as much when we establish parliamentary systems in other countries. Re third parties and momentum: Well, the number one factor preventing third parties from having any momentum is that we have a one-round electoral cycle, which essentially guarantees no more than two viable candidates. I mean, let's face it: If it were not for that factor, Ralph Nader would have picked up at least 15 percent of the vote in the 2000 elections, and Ross Perot a good 25 or 30 percent of the vote in the 1992 elections. And I think that, unlike the shift to the parliamentary system (which would require rewriting huge chunks of the Constitution), the possibility of runoff voting is viable. Some states already use it, and both parties have arguably been stung by third-party candidates--Bush in '92 (though this is debatable given Perot's role as the ultimate deficit hawk), Gore in '00. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-10-08T23:00:46-06:00
ID
103137
Comment

I agree with you regarding runoff elections as long as we're talking about *instant* runoff elections, meaning you check a first and second choice for, say, president. So if you want to vote for Nader, but your second choice for the office would be Gore, then you choose them in that order. When it's clear that Nader can't reach a plurality, you divvy his votes between the second choices made by those voters, and the candidate with an overal majority of those votes wins. That eliminates the problem that we currently have with "throwing away votes" on third-party candidates, and it causes the mainstream candidates to go after those second-place votes. And it would probably be the easiest change to make in our system, since it wouldn't really even mess with the number of times we vote or how quickly we get results.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2005-10-09T11:31:58-06:00

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