Monday, December 19, 2005

Eliminate Crime to Reduce Poverty or Reduce Poverty to Reduce Crime?

Crime is so inscrutable that many of us who've never experienced poverty fall into what I believe is a trap by drawing too close a correlation.

Singling out poverty as the underlying cause of crime may not make sense. It begs the question of why so few people in poverty turn to criminal behavior. Eliminating poverty may not be the panacea for reducing crime, especially for sociopathic, senseless crimes like murder and rape.

Substance, child or spousal/partner abuse also isn't exclusive to those in poverty by any means. It is true that people who don’t perceive other opportunities often turn to drug-dealing, but the demand for illicit drugs is across all socioeconomic levels.

Even things like eviction for not paying rent aren't exclusive to those in poverty or even those without jobs. More than one analyst has identified that character development has a much closer correlation to crime than poverty.

The alarming problem with crime is that it is much more likely to victimize those in poverty or low income. If for no other reason than to give those in poverty better access to opportunity, we need to guarantee them above all, personal safety.

Regardless of the underlying reasons, there must be no tolerance for homicide and forcible rape.

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