All Articles Tagged "violent crime"

There’s An $11B Fund To Help Victims Of Violent Crime, But Black Men Are Often Left Out

August 5th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Still image from the Moguldom Studios film “Gunland

Unfortunately, violent crime is an everyday occurrence in the US. Under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984, victims are supposed to be granted support services in the aftermath. But according to Colorlines, many young Black men are not deemed “innocent” enough to receive such assistance.

As part of its Life Cycles of Inequity series, Colorlines launched an investigation into government funding for crime victims and why young Black men seem to get the short end of the stick. VOCA is an $11 billion fund established by Congress, but victims of color rarely see a dime.

“…[L]aw enforcement often serves as arbiter of who’s a deserving victim and who’s not,” Colorlines says. And they decide “who gets aid and who must fend for themselves.” In other words, psychological, emotional, and financial support for young Black assault victims hinges on the “yay” or “nay” of police officers.

“The biases that exist around black men lead people to think of them first and foremost as perpetrators,” said Kai Wright, Colorlines editor-at-large in a press release. “Law enforcement should not be the arbiter of who’s a victim.”

And Illinois, home to the troubled South Side Chicago, is one of the least generous of VOCA’s aid. And that’s why Carla Murphy, partnering with Colorlines, focused her year-long examination in the heart of Chi-town.

According to Murphy, for a victim to apply for VOCA aid, one must apply at the attorney general’s office. But the problem is that judges rely heavily on police reports to determine whether or not a victim may receive compensation. In neighborhoods with tense police-community relations, it’s likely that these reports will be skewed.

“Typically the biggest problem that we have is that somewhere there is a police document that associates the victim with gang affiliation,” said Susan Johnson, executive director of Chicago’s Citizens for Change. “It can be that the crime is a gang-related crime, but the victim is an innocent victim. And we don’t see that disassociation made in the police write-ups. So then the victim of the crime gets tainted with that, and then the victim’s compensation will be denied.”

Dominique Harris, a Chicago resident whose heart escaped the impact of a bullet by just few inches last year, agreed. “Police don’t see us as innocent,” Harris says. “They see us as a gangbanger.”

Using the hashtag #LivesOfBlackMen, follow the discussion on Twitter with @Colorlines today, August 5th, at 1pm ET.

Consecutive Drops in Violent Crime Leave Experts Confused

September 20th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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By Charlotte Young

Could there possibly be some unknown superhero protecting America’s streets from violent crime? Perhaps not. But there is a decrease in violent crime across the nation, and the surprising trend has criminologist experts baffled as they search for an explanation.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, an FBI report revealed that violent crime dropped 6 percent in 2010, compared to the previous year. This is the fourth consecutive annual decline. The report, entitled, “Crime in the Unites States,” compiles research from over 18,000 city, country, university and college, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies.

Violent crime encompasses murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Of the violent crimes, robberies saw the highest drop at 10 percent, and burglaries saw the lowest drop at two percent. Violent crime was not the only type of crime to drop. Property crime decreased by 2.7 percent in 2010; a consecutive annual drop since 2007.

With the housing market consistently stagnant and unemployment remaining high, current conditions would seemingly point to an increase in crime. In addition, budgets cuts have left law enforcement agencies with 1 percent less officers on the streets than in 2008.

Given these statistics and circumstances, criminologists are forced to re-consider the causes of crime. Criminal justice professor William Pridemore at Indiana University in Bloomington, says that it may take years to find an explanation for the FBI’s report.

There are several theories in the works. One possibility for the decline could be that technology improvements have enabled law enforcement to be more strategic in their approach to crime. Another reason could be that the elderly baby boomer generation comprises the group with the lowest criminal activity.

Professor Pridemore notes that the FBI report provides an interesting look at crime data, but it’s not representative of every individual area. Violent crime in New York City, for example, jumped up five percent in 2010.

The recession is also closely linked to domestic abuse crimes as family stress has risen in the poor economy. Pediatrics magazine published a report on Monday that revealed that during the recession, abuse of children under 5 increased by 65 percent.

Violent Summer Crimes in D.C. Reach New Lows

August 11th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Washington Examiner) — Summer is often a time when violent crime spikes as youths free from school get into trouble on the streets, but this summer homicides, robberies and assaults are down to a several-year low, city officials said Wednesday.  Mayor Vince Gray and police Chief Cathy Lanier credited the dip to a multi-agency approach that not only flooded neighborhoods known for summer violence with police officers, but also kept streets cleans, alleys well-lit, and youths involved with work and education activities. Overall, crimes committed by youths was down about 50 percent from 2010, officials said.

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