Culture Wars/Current Controversies

What Crime Surge?

LA Progressive

Sacramento News & Review, one of the last supposedly “lefty” publications in the region just published an article (A winter of worry: Sacramento’s violent crime rate in January puts a chill on the community) decrying a recent “crime surge”–a constant worry among conservatives. Among other things, the article cites “independent researchers who have been tracking crime rates in California for nearly a decade acknowledge that overall violence in the state is on the rise.”

What Crime Surge?

But is crime really surging? Compilations of property and violent crime (from seem to disagree.

What Crime Surge?

True, these graphs predate the reported recent “surge,” yet clearly, even with the more recent “surging” crime, overall crime has been on the decline for decades and any recent increases would have to approach 100% (they don’t) for that decline to be interrupted. Unfortunately, the reporting about crime is generally distorted, too. The FBI’s published crime stats do not include “white collar” crime like wage theft and violations of the Clean Water Act.

Despite recent protests from the Chamber of Commerce about pursuit of corporate criminals, “white-collar crime likely costs the American economy between $300 and $800 billion per year, while street crimes like burglary and theft cost around $16 billion.” SN&R’s hand-wringing is a very old rhetorical tactic, known as “straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel.”

And thanks to reporting like SN&R’s, despite the decades’ decreases in arrests and crime, the county jail remains full. Why? (Pre-COVID-19) roughly 60% of those in County jail were not convicted of anything, except being unable to afford bail. That’s right! Poverty is illegal in Sacramento! Meanwhile, the nationwide average jail population for those incarcerated without conviction is 20%, so Sacramento is three times more cruel than even the extraordinarily vengeful U.S. incarceration system.


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