Violent Crime Is Up - Cue the theorizing.
DURING THE 1990s and the early part of this decade, crime fell and stayed down -- and politicians of all stripes claimed credit. Conservatives attributed the drop to tough sentencing policies that swelled the national prison population. The Clinton administration cited its heavy investment in local law enforcement and community-oriented policing. Governors and mayors around the country claimed vindication for their particular policies though local declines were, in almost all cases, no greater than those in adjacent jurisdictions that pursued different policies. The crime drop, whose causes remain mysterious, made everybody look good. Now, according to new data from the FBI, crime is inching back up -- and stands to make policymakers look bad. Yet once again, the causes are muddy.
Just as the waning of the crack epidemic, economic good times and general demographic trends contributed to the drop in crime, so a number of factors are probably at work now: a bulge in age segments of the population more prone to crime, the rise of methamphetamine use, a pinched fiscal climate for state and local governments that provide social services for people likely to turn to crime.