Will Crime be on your Mind at the Polls?

Here’s a startling new fact: more than 1 in every hundred adults in the U.S. is in jail or prison, or on parole, according to the Pew Center on the States.

Here’s another: the biggest bulge in the prison population in our nation’s history is currently starting to get out on parole.

And another: one of the largest baby booms since the original following World War II was in 1990, and those born in that year will be in “their high crime years,” according to Washington Post Columnist David S. Broder, which are the 18 to 25 year old demographic.

Add these too: a rising tide of gang activity, an Internet that has lots of criminal outlets, and increasing gun violence in big American cities.

All these factors and viola – a recipe for higher crime.

The question is: will all of that translate to the polls this fall?


The presidential candidates seem mostly focused on the war in Iraq, health-care reform and taxes. No question those issues clearly are on the forefront of the American conscience.

But what of crime?

I think voters here regard the issue of crime as more of a local issue. When a thief steals a car, for instance, you don’t expect the FBI to show up and take a report. You get a Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy or an officer from one of our local police departments.

But the federal government did much in the 1990s in an attempt to cut both rising violent and property crime rates. Funding for lots more cops and prison space led to hefty declines in crime.

But you could argue that we as citizens helped dip the crime rate most. Americans are far more invested in crime prevention than ever before. We’re buying alarms, locking doors, even setting up surveillance, which has been made cheaper by the proliferation of wireless networks and web cams.

Still, columnist Broder argues that the federal government — he targets the Bush Administration — has been eroding away the spending increases on crime prevention from the 1990s.

I would lastly put the question to you, dear voter: will you want to hear what Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton thinks about adding more cops to American streets? How John McCain views prison rehabilitation?

On Monday, I’ll look at some practical examples that show crime in Kitsap may appear to be increasing, but that it’s more likely to have been several high-profile cases inflating our reputation.

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