Last year was "the bloodiest year in the United States history," with the murder toll jumping to an all-time high of 23,200, and rapes, robberies and assaults also reaching record levels, according to a report released by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
The "epidemic of violent crime sweeping the nation" has damaged the credibility of the justice system, the report said. "Indeed, all elements of out criminal justice system are approaching collapse ....The nation's state and local law enforcement officers are out-gunned, under-manned, and ill-equipped ....The backlog of criminal cases before the nation's courts is crippling the nation's prisons and jails are filled well beyond the capacity they are designed and staffed to handle ....And the juvenile corrections system is falling apart."
The study, based on preliminary FBI Uniform Crime Report figures for 1990 and other justice Department data, was prepared by the Democratic majority staff of the judiciary Committee. It was issued as Senator Biden introduced his omnibus anti-crime legislation.
The report offers and unusually grim view of crime and criminal justice in the United States. The "record carnage" of 1990 is "terrifying" compared even to the year before, but "the horror of the nation's record levels of violent crime is more properly seen when one compares the America of 1990 with the America of 1960, " the report said. In those 30 years, the number of murders grew four times faster than the population, and violent crime as a whole grew more than 12 times faster than the nation's population, according to the committee staff analysis.
"We are the most violent and self-destructive nation on earth," the report said. "In 1990, no nation had a higher murder rate than the United States. What is worse, no nation was even dose. Last year, our murder rate was 11 times that of Japan, nearly nine times that of England, over four times that of Italy, and nine times that of Egypt and Greece." The United States compares even more unfavorably with other nations on rape and robbery, having nearly 150 times the robbery rate of Japan, for example.
Summarizing recent testimony by FBI experts and others at Judiciary Committee hearings, the report blamed the crisis on the rise of "powerful, organized gangs intent on killing to gain and kip control of the lucrative drug trade," particularly youth gangs and new Asian gangs, or "Tongs." The report cited "drugs, deadly weapons, and demographic trends" as other factors.
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