Politicians often claim that reducing crime is simple. We hear rally cries for increased prosecution, harsher penalties, or mandatory sentences. These ideas may sound like great solutions, and if life was black and white, they would be. The reality is that reducing crime is not that simple.
The Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers were idealistic television shows. They lead us to think that answers to criminal policy are clear to all. In reality, bad guys don’t always wear black, and it’s not always clear who the bad guy even is.
Crime Rates Are Not Very Helpful
It may be tempting to rely on crime rates to determine new policy. However, policy experts and academics know that crime rates are influenced by many factors including economics, social constructs, cultural changes, and political swings. This recent Denver Post article includes numerous charts demonstrating that crime rates cycle up and down in regular patterns. Any attempt to “influence” or “reduce” the crime rate by increased prosecution simply creates prejudices. Those people who are charged during an uptick will likely receive harsher sentences. Those prosecuted during a downturn in crime rates will likely receive more merciful sentences.
The reality is that crime is a multi-faceted monster, relying equally on what society decides is unacceptable and what society defines as illegal. Mix this with the complexity of the human experience. In one moment, people see themselves as victims of another person. In another moment, they see themselves as victims of the system that is trying to protect them.
Our attorneys at the Datz Law Firm, we regularly walk alongside people who have been accused of committing crimes. Sometimes they are innocent and a jury trial or a dismissal is the result. Sometimes they’ve done something wrong, but far less than what they’ve been accused of and a plea agreement is the right result. We seek to get a fair trial and a fair resolution no matter what the crime rates are at the time of our client’s arrest.