Violent Crime Research Paper

1862 words - 7 pages

Violent Crime Research Paper

Nothing does more to tear our families apart than violent crime, guns, gangs, drugs, and the fear that walks alongside those terrors. Violent crime and victim rights have become a major concern for most citizens in the United States of America. Statistics indicate a decline in violent crimes in our country and an increase in our national prison population. Released prisoners commit most violent crimes. Gun control legislation, reform programs, victim rights awareness, and other programs are abundant in our country, but do little to alleviate violent crime. In this paper I will try to present the liberal and conservative views on this issue as well as my own views.

Violent crime is a complex problem and can only be responded to in complex ways. "Quick fix" solutions to the problem are likely to be misguided.

There was a decline in crime during the 1990s. Our country enjoyed seven years of declining crime for the period 1991-98, the most recent data available. During this period crime declined by 22% and violent crime by 25%. These are welcome developments, particularly following the surge of crime and violence of the late 1980s. This decline occurred during a time when the national prison population has increased substantially, rising from 789,60 in 1991 to 1,252,830, a 59% rise in just seven years and a 47% increase in the rate of incarceration, taking into account changes in the national population (Mauer 21-24).

Many observers have drawn a simple correlation between these two trends. Putting more offenders in prison caused the reduction in crime. The Sentencing project has just completed a study that examines this issue in great detail and concludes that any such correlation is ambiguous at best. In examining the relationship between incarceration and crime in the 1990s the picture is complicated by the seven year period just prior to this, 1984-91. In this period, incarceration also rose substantially, at a rate of 65%. Yet crime rates increased during this time as well, by 17% nationally. Thus we see a continuous rise in incarceration for fourteen years, during which crime rose for seven years, then declined for seven years. This does not suggest that incarceration had no impact on crime, but any such connection is clearly influenced by other factors. A comparison with other nations is instructive in this regard. The United States incarcerates its citizens at a greater rate than any other nation and at a rate 5-8 times that of most other industrialized nations. This differential is in part due to a higher rate of violent crime in the U.S. and in part to more severe criminal justice policies. The reasons why other industrialized nations have less violent crime than in the U.S. is clearly not because they lock up more offenders and thereby reduce crime. We could debate the various factors that contribute to our high level of violence but a failure to incarcerate is clearly not one of them (Mauer...

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