Gang Problems Blamed In Cities With Murder Increases


Murders are at a 40-year low in New York and Chicago; homicide rates are on the rise in Baltimore and Detroit – and dramatically so in New Orleans. The Christian Science Monitor says that in the variance is a positive story about cities’ successful attack on crime and gun violence and an alarm about rising gang-related and youth violence, particularly within the African-American community. An analysis of federal crime data by Northeastern University’s James Alan Fox found a 52 percent jump in the number of murders committed by male African-American teens between 2002 and 2006, and smaller increases in those committed by black men and women. “Some cities are experiencing gang problems that are spiraling out of control, and others are not,” Fox says. “That’s essentially the issue.”

Criminologists cite a variety of factors for the increases, from a drop in police offier ranks to a shift in resources to fight terror to cuts in federal spending on youth programs and gang prevention. Alfred Blumstein, a criminologist at Carnegie Mellon University, cites a lack of economic opportunity for young people. “The phenomena are very different and local across the country: There’s now no major national drug epidemic like there was in the early 1990s,” says Blumstein. “All politics is local. Also, these days, all crime is local, too.”


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