As an FBI official leaked last week, the preliminary national compilation of crime reports for last year shows that the number of violent crimes rose for a second straight year, marking the first sustained increase in homicides, robberies. and other serious offenses since the early 1990s, reports the Washington Post. The report can be seen at this site: http://www.fbi.gov/page2/june07/ucr060407.htm. The Uniform Crime Report shows an increase of about 1.3 percent in violent offenses, including a 6 percent rise in robberies and a slight rise in homicides. Much of the increase was concentrated in medium-size cities. Criminologists and law enforcement officials offer varying theories for the upswing, including an increase in the juvenile population, growing numbers of released prison inmates, and the rise of serious gang problems in smaller jurisdictions.
The statistics are likely to create new political trouble for the Bush administration. Crime fighting has long been a signature Republican political issue, but this week Democratic lawmakers cited the new trend as evidence of weaknesses in federal assistance to local law enforcement. said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-De.), chairman of a crime subcommittee. “It’s time to get back to crime-fighting basics — that means more cops on the streets, equipped with the tools and resources they need to keep our neighborhoods safe.” In advance of the report, Attorney Genreal Alberto Gonzales unveiled proposed legislation that would set new minimum sentences, establish longer penalties for the illegal use of firearms, and broaden conspiracy statutes to allow for easier prosecution of violent gang members. The Justice Department proposed to lighten some penalties against arms dealers for violations of the Gun Control Act. Gonzales announced that “violent crime impact teams” would be dispatched to four cities under an existing Justice Department program to curtail gang activity.