Posts tagged ‘Crime’

June 2, 2011

Charting the Homicide Rate

by Vince

This may provide a sigh of relief:

The bottom line is that there has been a big and welcome decrease in homicide rates in Europe and America over the past several centuries. To put these numbers in perspective, however, note that the homicide rate in New Orleans today is 52 per 100,000 and in Detroit it’s 40 per 100,000 so even with a lower average there is lots of variation.

Brazil today is around 22 per 100,000 not too far from America in the 19th century. The homicide rate in El Salvador is 71 per 100,000, in Jamaica (!) 60 per 100,000 and in Honduras 67 per 100,000 — all higher than fifteenth century Europe. Thus, the past was a more violent place but not so violent as to be unknown to the present

May 27, 2011

Beware of Metaphors

by Vince

Metaphors and imagery can be great tools for communicating. They also can be abused by pundits and invective slingers. Here is a stunning story on this when related to crime. A study: “the researchers asked 482 students to read one of two reports about crime in the City of Addison. Later, they had to suggest solutions for the problem. In the first report, crime was described as a “wild beast preying on the city” and “lurking in neighborhoods”.

The outcomes?

After reading these words, 75% of the students put forward solutions that involved enforcement or punishment, such as building more jails or even calling in the military for help. Only 25% suggested social reforms such as fixing the economy, improving education or providing better health care. The second report was exactly the same, except it described crime as a “virus infecting the city” and “plaguing” communities. After reading this version, only 56% opted for great law enforcement, while 44% suggested social reforms.

However, they found that the harsh wording didn’t necessarily derive draconian ideas for solutions or thoughts:

The researchers also discovered that the words themselves do not wield much influence without the right context. When Thibodeau and Boroditsky asked participants to come up with synonyms for either “beast” or “virus”before reading identical crime reports, they provided similar solutions for solving the city’s problems. In other words, the metaphors only worked if they framed the story. If, however, they appeared at the end of the report, they didn’t have any discernable effect. It seems that when it comes to the potency of metaphor, context is king.

May 26, 2011

Quote of the Day II

by Vince

“Do this research if we don’t have a season — watch how much evil, which we call crime — watch how much crime picks up if you take away our game,” Ray Lewis, NFL football player for the Baltimore Ravens, when thinking about the implications of a lockout.

May 25, 2011

The Prison Flood Gates Are Opening

by Vince

The California Supreme Court upheld a decision to release 30,000 inmates. Conor Friedersdorf and Mark Kleiman are hoping they use the GPS-type trackers for these released offenders.

I have mixed feelings about this because I know it’s an imperfect solution. On the other hand, I do know that prison costs are (and have been) exploding. Conversely, I don’t think saving money should always point us towards blanket solutions that may jeopardize public safety

May 25, 2011

Crime Rates Are Down

by Vince


The number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly last year, to what appeared to be the lowest rate in nearly 40 years, a development that was considered puzzling partly because it ran counter to the prevailing expectation that crime would increase during a recession.

In a way, this is contrary to the vibe the Tea Party has given off. It’s been insinuated that they have been so fed up with the government and many other issues plaguing whites over 45 that they are bound to storm Washington and “take matters into their own hands”.

A scientific take on this topic here.

May 14, 2011

Thrilling Read for the Weekend

by Vince

A 20+ year cold case is followed up on and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

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January 28, 2011

Scenes From Within the NYPD

by Vince

I can tell I may already love this book:

Especially during his early days as a foot patrol man, Serpico, in civilian clothes after a four-to-midnight tour, would often seek out muggers on his own. Besides his talent for minicry, he has an actor’s ability with his body, and in a variety of guises – his favorite being that of an elderly man shuffling along over a cane, a big slouch hat concealing his features – he would go alone down dark and silent city streets in high crime areas, waiting for the attack to come, actually inviting it, his eyes probing each doorway for a sudden shadowy movement, his ears straining for the predatory fooffall behind his back.

A girlfriend, lying next to him in bed one night, said, “You must be crazy doing things like that. What are you trying to prove?”

“I’m not trying to prove anything,” Serpico replied. “I just want them to know how some poor slob feels when they jump him.”

Once four young muggers jumped Serpico. He whirled, kicked the knife out of the hand of the leader, drew his revolver, and watched them freeze. He identified himself as a police office and lined them up. (p.23)

August 23, 2010

The Town Trailer

by Vince

This movie looks good. I am always into the Boston crime flicks. Plus, the robber masks (especially the nun look) is creepy.

August 11, 2010

Immigration and Crime, Work

by Vince

The Immigration Policy Center has some useful articles that are heavily cited. Here are two articles related to controversial issues surrounding illegal immigration: what work American immigrants do and their crime rate as a group.

More on the stats compared to native born Americans and other American immigrant groups here.

Immigrants are Five Times Less Likely than the Native-Born to be in Prison

  • In 2000, among men age 18-39 (who comprise the vast majority of the U.S. prison population), the incarceration rate for the native-born (3.5%) was five times higher than the rate for immigrants (0.7%).
  • In California, the state with the greatest number of both undocumented and legal immigrants, the incarceration rate for native-born men age 18-39 (4.5%) was more than 11 times the rate for immigrants (0.4%).
  • Although the undocumented immigrant population doubled to about 12 million from 1994 to 2005, the violent crime rate in the United States declined by 34.2% and the property crime rate fell by 26.4%. This decline in crime rates was not just national, it also occurred in border cities and other cities with large immigrant populations—such as San Diego, El Paso, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami.

The full story for crime here. Can someone pass these reports on to John McCain, Jan Brewer, Jon Kyl, and the other hard nosed elected officials in Arizona?

July 28, 2010

What We Talk About When We Talk About Immigration

by Vince

Sara Mayeux writes one of the better immigration articles I have read in some time. It counters the hot-button arguments of today with brevity and provides links to read more. On top of all that, she quoted Patricia Nelson Limerick’s book The Legacy of Conquest, which was one of my favorite history reads in college. In all, this is worth the full read:

Second and relatedly, there’s the selective nature with which the epithet “alien” is applied. Funny how Canadian housewives without proper papers, Irish bartenders who overstayed their tourist visas, Australians who remained abroad when their study abroad was through all seem to escape the opprobrium.

Most nefarious to me, though, is when the “alien” drops off altogether and the adjective “illegal” is transmuted into noun, as when politicos rail against the masses of “illegals” running rampant through the land. It’s not as though undocumented immigrants have some special claim to disregard for federal regulations. At any given moment someone not far from you is probably doing one or more of the following: smoking marijuana, selling cocaine, exceeding the speed limit in a national park, downloading pirated videos, possessing an unregistered firearm, or committing any number of the vaguely defined federal crimes that populate the U.S. Code.

July 14, 2010

Reforming Rehabilitation

by Vince

Frum cites a neat article and chimes in on the topic of reforming the prison system:

Currently, approximately 2 out of every 3 former inmates return’ to prison within three years of release. Helping inmates find and sustain employment immediately after release diminishes their chances of recidivism. Working towards a reduction in recidivism is important because keeping offenders from re-entering the penal system means less crime and less tax dollars (which can be saved and/or reinvested by the tax payer).

Most of the aid that offenders receive are through public funds from the federal government and philanthropic organizations which donate monies to non-profits and state agencies to help defray re-entry costs. Ex-convicts are typically placed into low-wage jobs and often quit due to the patience required for delayed gratification through legal work and/or lack of familial support.


Past experience with rehabilitation programs has been disheartening. In the 1970s, it became conventional wisdom that “nothing works.” I’m not going to quibble with the success in public safety achieved by incarceration. But if compassionate conservatism means anything, it should mean support for research and experimentation to discover if maybe after all there is something that might work even a little better than writing off as valueless the lives of 3 million fellow-Americans, disproportionately minority and especially disproportionately black.

June 9, 2010

CBURG: So you have been arrested?

by Vince

If you are in the area and are wondering the difference between your multi-point speeding ticket and the ramifications of indecent exposure on the town square, Vicky Taylor has written a piece on the criminal process within the county seed of Franklin County.

Police often use the term “arrested” when a summons outlining the charges and setting an initial court date are mailed to an individual, and in some instances the officer might not have personally talked to that person.

Many arrests don’t involve hauling a person in to the police station or taking them to a magisterial district judge or Franklin County Jail’s Central Booking Center.

Traffic tickets are usually issued to motorists on the spot when a stop is made. Criminal charges are always filed in magisterial district court, and often such a charge is mailed as a summons.

More on the areas unique crimes and the plight’s grey areas

A large number of the criminal cases filed with the county’s seven magisterial district judges are DUIs or minor drug possession charges, most of which result in a mailing of a summons. The county has its share of felony crimes, also.

Arrests in those crimes are often handled differently, depending on the circumstances.

Even in cases involving felony crimes, such as burglaries, assaults and drug investigations, the way the charges are handled and arrests are made vary, according to state police Sgt. William McAreavy.

“Each investigation has a unique set of circumstances, and there are no black and white answers,” he said.