Fox: “Reckless” Justice Funding Cuts May Allow Crime To Rise


The continued decline in the total of reported crimes may be good for America, but not for all Americans, says criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University. Writing for the Boston Globe, Fox notes that FBI compilations “do not distinguish crime trends by neighborhood, social class and race,” Fox said the national drop in violent crime “is not exactly consistent with the experience of many citizens who live in certain impoverished sections of Detroit, Baltimore, Newark and elsewhere, and for whom the frightening sound of gunfire is a much too frequent occurrence.”

The decision to pursue a criminal career is largely independent of job market conditions, Fox says. He worries about the diminished levels of police protection, particularly in high crime areas, because of local budget cugts. From 2000 to 2009, the number of police officers per 1,000 residents in cities with populations of 250,000 and over has declined by 11 percent. As a result, many police departments have been forced to scale down certain special programs such as anti-gang units and community policing efforts. Fox believes the decline in aggregate crime rates can easily be used to justify further budget cutting for law enforcement and other areas of the criminal justice domain. His conclusion: “Notwithstanding the FBI report, we can never solve the crime problem; we only control it. If we grow too complacent and recklessly seek to trim the fat, crime levels can easily rebound.”

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