Home Editorials Understanding, combating crime in this country

Understanding, combating crime in this country

by William T. Robinson, Jr
William T. Robinson, Jr.

Every day we are reminded of the rising rate of crime in this country and measures being taken to combat the problem. Crime is either up or down according to what law enforcement agencies or polls you choose to listen to or endorse. Reducing crime is a platform echoed by many politicians running for political offices. Some would argue that crime is as American as apple pie.

Now crimes can be broken up into two main categories one being misdemeanors and the other being felonies. Each one of these categories can be broken down into sub levels. Crime covers a broad spectrum.

Misdemeanors are nonviolent crimes such as drunk driving, minor drug offenses, minor assault or battery, trespassing, petty theft, prostitution, indecent exposure, perjury, disorderly conduct and vandalism. They are usually punishable with a fine or short period of jail time (less than a year). Other alternatives could be probation, rehabilitation or community service

Felonies are serious crimes involving violence. They are punishable by no less than one year of prison time or by death. Felonies include manslaughter, murder, kidnapping, robbery, rape, aggravated assault, drug crimes, etc.

White collar crimes are considered felonies and include: credit card, fraud, business fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, securities fraud, counterfeiting, embezzlement, Ponzi schemes, bribery, extortion, tax evasion money laundering, racketeering, etc. Federal law enforcement agencies usually investigate white collar crimes.

Realistically we cannot eradicate crime completely, but we can do more to bring the statistics down. We have no shortage of laws whether local, state, or federal that seem to do little in deterring crime. So maybe we should revisit some of these laws and put more teeth into them, making them more effective as deterrents or make sure that these laws will be applied equally regardless of one’s social status, race, gender or religion.

The application in enforcing these laws is questionable when we see different outcomes for people violating the very same crimes. The same punishment should apply across the board to everyone guilty of violating the same laws. As it stands now, it seems a person’s outcome depends on their race or the lawyer they can afford.

One must realize that a lot of money is made in the criminal justice system when you considered judges, lawyers, policemen, clerks, jails, prisons, guards, or the counselors involved. Some may assume that the criminal justice system is such a lucrative business that although they present the façade of working to lower crime, their objective may be to secretly support crime. If crime dropped substantially, there wouldn’t be a need for people in the criminal justice system.

Blacks and Hispanics make up a disproportionate number of those incarcerated when compared to their White counterparts. In fact, some laws intentionally target Blacks and people of color. Are we to conclude that as long as prisons are big business, little will be done to correct or eradicate laws that specifically prey on Blacks and people of color?

Law enforcement agencies could work harder to form a relationship or bond with Black communities with a history of police brutality. As it is now, they have little if any trust or respect for those representing the law. This could come about through programs and events fostering trust and respect between the community and law enforcing agencies.

We are constantly being told by our elected officials that fighting crime is a priority. If they are serious, they can start by making sure that equality is equally applied or enforced across the board—regardless of one’s race, gender, religion, status, or zip code.

Hands down, we all should know that the biggest contributor to crime is poverty. Once this country is serious and committed to making sure no one is left behind and everyone is given the resources and opportunity to better themselves, then we’ll see less crime.

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