Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Rachel Lucas posted about the Justice Department crime statistics. They show a substantial decrease in crime. I hope it's true. Rachel makes a good point when she says the numbers show her nothing at all. The reporting of crimes suffers from a lack of standard procedure. It also suffers from manipulation by those reporting the crimes. An increase in crime creates an increase in law enforcement budgets. A decrease in crime helps someone get their contract renewed. Here is an example of how crime reporting varies. Suppose a Frenchman comes into 7-11 and points a gun at the fellow working there and takes the cash. He then goes outside, pulls a woman out of her car, and drives off. He has an accident, causing injuries, and drives off. He is finally caught and arrested. If you want to have high crime statistics, you charge whim with aggravated robbery, theft of the automobile, and leaving the scene of an accident. If you want low statistics, you just report the aggravated robbery and omit the rest as part of the scheme. So, it is a little hard to know, when all you have is the statistics, what is really going on.
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