For the past several months Americans have regularly listed crime and
violence as the number - one problem facing the nation, far surpassing worries
over the economy or health care.
Despite the many government and community initiatives launched during
recent years to reduce crime, most Americans see no improvement. In a 1993
survey asking respondents if they felt crime was increasing or decreasing in
their areas, only 5 % felt that it was decreasing, a full 93 % felt that crime
was either increasing or staying the same. And it is not just statistics: I
consider myself along with those 93 %. Because while Guiliani administration is
talking about crime rates in the New York City going down, all I see and hear
in the media are reports about horrible crimes committed by New Yorkers.
As George Pettinico states in his article " Crime and punishment:
America changes it's mind ": The media's extensive coverage of crime, especially
the most brutal and horrific cases have heightened the public's fear and anger
over this issue to a near frenzy. When asked in January of this year, " How
often do you see reports of violent crime on television ? " 68 % replied "
almost every day ".
Although the media have played an important role in raising the public's
awareness of lawlessness, crime in America is far from a media - created
phenomenon. Government statistics support the image of a nation which has
overwhelmingly lost the war against crime. For instance, in 1960 there were 161
reported violent crimes per 100,000 people By 1992, the figure had jumped to 758
per 100,000 -- a rise of over 350 %.
More and more people today are starting to think that something is
terribly wrong when a modern, civilized nation must confront statistics like
these. The American public is demanding an end to this violence, and surveys
show that they believe swift and harsh punishment is the most appropriate and
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