Violent crime rates in the United States today vary from state to state. As a matter of fact, crime watchers have observed that the national trend did not apply to all states and cities. While the national trend was observed to have been true in big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, the case was not the same in other places of the country. As a matter of fact, a survey conducted by the Police Executive Research Foundation (PERF) showed that out of the 50 states, decreases in homicide cases were registered in only 28 while increases were found in the remaining 22 states.
Some claimed that the increases occurred in places where gun procurement was relatively easy. A case in point was Washington, D. C. While the national figures for violent crimes decreased by 2 percent for the period from January – June 2007, there were 181 killings recorded in the state for the period, an increase of 7 percent from the 169 killings recorded for the same period in 2006. Aside from Washington, D. C. , other places in similar situation were Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Baltimore, and New Orleans (Katel, 2008).
Authorities are not in agreement. A University of California law school at Berkeley criminologist, Franklin E. Zimring, said that a varied rate is only natural for the country because of its “vast social differences and geography. ” Some say that other states have better methods of reducing violent crime than others, like more efficient “policing techniques” which include tracking crimes occurring in neighborhoods more closely as well as quicker, more effective police response to “upticks,” or slight increases in crime incidents (Katel, 2008).
There are those who believe otherwise, however. They maintain that violent crimes like homicide were more prevalent in inner cities plagued by poverty. James A. Fox, for one, a professor of criminal justice at the Northeastern University in Boston, made the observation that underprivileged young Blacks were causing the problem in some cities. Fox was quoted as saying that “This has been the pattern since 2002. If we don’t respond appropriately, the problem in poor, black communities could further spiral out of control.
” Figures in Philadelphia seem to have substantiated Fox because out of 406 murder victims recorded in 2006, 285 or roughly 70 percent had been black men (Katel, 2008). The debate concerning the causes of violent crimes predictably produced two schools of thought: the “root cause” school of thought and the “individual responsibility” school of thought. The former group counts among its advocates the liberals while the latter thought is populated by conservatives.
The liberals claim that criminals are products of environments plagued by “socioeconomic deprivation. ” The conservatives, or those who belong to the “individual responsibility” school of thought, do not believe, however, that poverty causes crime. According to them, crimes are committed by people with criminal behavior. Blaming crime to poverty, they maintain, is like excusing the actions of such people and relieving them of their individual responsibilities (Katel, 2008).