Informative article from the Hill journalist Nick Robertson discussed a Gallup poll showing nearly two-thirds of Americans believe crime is an “extremely” or “very” serious problem in the U.S. The 63 percent rate is the highest collected by Gallup, with the previous high of 60 percent found in 2000, 2010 and 2016.
Nationally, about three-quarters of Americans believe crime has gone up. This perspective underlines the tough-on-crime political narrative of conservative politicians. Republicans were significantly more likely to believe that crime is going up nationally. In fact, 92 percent of Republicans hold that belief compared to 58 percent of Democrats. Republican respondents also believed national crime was a more serious issue, 78 percent to 51 percent of Democrats.
Gallup’s self-reporting of crime victimhood has also increased. A fifth of respondents said someone in their household was a victim of a crime this year, near a record high. Most of those reported crimes were vandalism and car break-ins, according to the poll.
But the increase in crime perception could also be a result of frequent messaging about crime through politics and the increase in murders in some cities, which draws attention in media, Gallup said.
Despite an increase in attention, crime is still only the most important issue to 3 percent of Americans, according to a separate Gallup poll, a stark contrast to 1994, when crime was the top issue for more than 40 percent of respondents. The figure hasn’t crossed 10 percent since the recession.
IS IT CRIME OR POVERTY?
It sounds unreal, farfetched, or even crazy to say that “poverty is illegal.” However, the prosecution of poverty is an ongoing issue in our country. When you look at the frequency people are incarcerated because they can’t pay fees for speeding tickets and other small infractions, it’s heartbreaking. There are 2.2 million people locked up on any given day in the U.S. according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
Countless people living in poverty are forced to plead guilty when they are, in fact, innocent. The injustice happens because they simply cannot afford the legal fees to fight the case against them. Forty-three states charge for a public defender. Fines for less than $200 might keep someone in jail due to the “pay or stay” system. Courts rarely ask if a defendant has the ability to pay rather than their willingness to pay. Overuse of incarceration is negatively impacting families, causes job loss and a myriad of other problems.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Criminal convictions and incarceration are terrible consequences that deeply affect one’s livelihood and family. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.