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Crime Rates Continue Upward Climb

By Ed Mead

Preliminary figures from the FBI's recently released Uniform Crime Reports show violent crimes reported to police last year increased by 5 percent, continuing a seven-year trend of increases. The rate of violent crime per capita rose to the highest level in three decades, and the overall crime rate was the second highest since 1960, exceeded only in 1980, according to a comparison of the FBI figures with the population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The FBI Uniform Crime Reports include only crimes reported to police. Therefore, criminologists consider the FBI report a less reliable indicator of crime than the National Crime Survey, which interviews victims. The most recent National Survey's preliminary figures showed violent crimes rose by 7.9 percent in 1991.

Crime rose 3.1 percent in Washington State last year, with the largest increase in Bellingham and Spokane, according to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. Statewide the preliminary statistics for 1991 showed that violent crimes were up 7.1 percent, with robbery and rape both up by 14 percent.

A total of 25,909 violent crimes occurred in Washington in 1991 and 284,250 property crimes. Seattle had the most violent crimes with 7,279. Property crimes rose 2.8 percent, with arson jumping 13.5 percent. Assaults on law officers rose 1.8 percent to 1,642 across the state. No officers were killed by felons but two died by accident or negligence, the report said. Comparing statistics from 1981 and 1991, the report found that violent crimes rose 40.9 percent and property crimes 10.4 percent during the period. Population rose 7.2 percent and aggravated assault increased 39.9 percent in the decade.

Karl Marx once said "there is something rotten at the core of a society in which the crime rate grows at a faster rate than its population." The state's response to this rise in crime has been the largest increase in its prison population in state history. The fact that prison does not work is of course lost on the state and national policy makers. When confronted with the bitter truth, with the bankruptcy of this approach, they respond with larger and larger doses of the same old ineffective medicine - imprisonment. It is the social order itself which must be changed. Capitalism cannot provide jobs for all its people, let alone a non-sexist, non-racist, or non-exploitive workplace environment. The solution is beyond the grasp of today's politicians. It lies in the creation of a classless social order.

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