Drug Prohibition Violence Rising in Orlando, Florida

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Orlando, Florida, has joined the ranks of cities experiencing rising homicide rates after years of partial relief. According to the Associated Press (article link to the Orlando Sentinel web site), the city has recorded 33 murders this year -- the first time the number reached 30 since 1982, but with nearly half of the year left to go. Much of it appears to be about drugs:
Police Chief Mike McCoy stressed that no tourists had been killed, and said most law-abiding citizens aren't at risk. "If you're not selling drugs, if you don't house people selling drugs, if you don't have the proceeds of drugs in your home, then your chances of being involved in a homicide are pretty slim," he said.
Some other interesting comments in the article:
"People can attribute crime to failing schools, failing families. There's a bunch of sociological things you can put your finger on," said police Sgt. Rich Ring, head of Orlando's homicide investigation unit. "All we can do as police is say the biggest things are drugs and robbery, and we're going to take action to attack those issues."
Note that McCoy did not include possession of drugs or drug use itself in his list of high-risk factors. All of the situations he mentioned relate to the drug trade, the commercial act of drug selling or activity closely related to it. And that's the first important point: the vast majority of drug-related violence is not from people getting high and shooting people because they're under the influence. The vast majority of drug-related violence is due to the modus operandi of this highly profitable area of the criminal underground. Legalization would bring all of that to a stop: All of the money that people are now spending on drugs that is fueling this kind of violence could instead stay in the licit economy, where business disputes can instead be moderated in the courts, and where most cash is kept in bank accounts and is therefore not such a tempting target for armed robbery. The other issue is that violence is going up in a lot of cities -- the AP article named some of them, and we are seeing this in other news reports as well. The drop in crime rates over the past decade or so has been a welcome partial relief to communities living under economic stress. But it is probably temporary, and in any case should not be taken as a reason to continue prohibition of drugs -- even if violence were to continue to drop, as long as there is prohibition of a lucrative commodity like drugs, violence rates will be higher than they could otherwise be, and no one seriously thinks that things are at an acceptable level in this regard even now. I don't know if this appeared in the Sentinel in print or not, or where else it appeared. You can follow the message board links from the article, or click here for letter-to-the-editor information. Please post to the comments here with the names and letter-writing info for any papers where you see the article appearing.
Orlando, FL
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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