Friday, June 29, 2012

Murder rate soars in Stockton

Homicides are rising in Stockton, the bankrupt California city that has already cut its police force by more than a quarter.

Reports Business Insider,
The city has cut more than $90 million in spending over the past few years, specifically in its police department. The city has cut over one quarter of its police jobs, which has led to a "surge in murders," and has created an "emboldened criminal element" in the city. According to police spokesman Joe Silva, the city has had 87 murders since the start of 2011, 29 of which have already occurred this year. In contrast, there were 35 murders in 2009 and 48 in 2010. With six months left in the year, there have already been more murders in the city since the start of 2011 than the two-year stretch of 2009-2010.
Financial Armageddon blogger Michael Panzner notes that crime hasn't increased much despite the deteriorating U.S. economy (11.1 percent drop in wages between 2007-11). thing we haven't seen is a dramatic rise in illegal activity, despite evidence, as sociologist Steven Box concluded in his 1977 book, Recession, Crime, and Punishment, that a "deterioration in material circumstances [leads] to more crime." 
Some have argued -- probably rightly so -- that the reason why things are different this time is because an extraordinary large percentage of Americans are currently in prison. Others maintain that the modern social safety net has alleviated at least some of the pressure that turns law-abiding citizens into opportunistic criminals. Regardless, a report at Business Insider, "Stockton Goes Bankrupt And Already The Murder Rate Is Soaring," suggests we may be getting closer to the point where economic circumstances and social conditions are more closely in synch...
Let's hope not.