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Violence Rate Rising Again -- AP Doesn't Mention Prohibition

Submitted by David Borden on
An Associated Press article today reports that the homicide rate in the US is going up again:
After many years of decline, the number of murders climbed in 2006 in New York and many other U.S. cities, including Rocky Mount, reaching their highest levels in a decade in some places. (Rocky Mount is a North Carolina community whose local paper drew on the AP story to produce this article. Among the reasons given: gangs, drugs, the easy availability of illegal guns, a disturbing tendency among young people to pull guns when they do not get the respect they demand and, in Houston at least, an influx of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
While drug warriors like former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani credited the "broken windows" theory of policing and tough sentences in general for the crime drop, criminologists pointed instead to a range of factors -- a decrease in the number of youth in the population figured prominently. (With my elementary school -- Roosevelt -- having been converted into a condominium -- The Roosevelt -- because of demographics, I was aware that fewer kids were growing up for awhile.) A corollary is that with youth numbers expected to go up again, crime would eventually go up again too. And now it has (yes, in New York too). The AP story did not go into the role of drug prohibition in all of this. Basically, it is prohibition of drugs that causes the vast majority of the drug-related violence -- pharmacologically-induced violence, acts committed because of being under the influence of drugs -- makes up only a small portion of the total. Drug-related violence is first and foremost the violence of the drug trade -- gangs and other sellers fighting it out over turf. The illegal drug trade exists solely because the drugs are illegal. The second most important cause of drug-related violence is economic crimes committed to get the money needed to buy drugs. This would mostly go away if drugs were legal because the price of the drugs would drop to normal market levels and addicts would not need to commit crimes to afford them. It's impossible to have a serious discussion of the causes of violence without discussing -- without even mentioning -- the consequences of prohibition. This must be stated over and over and over until the people leading the discussion take note. Click here to submit a letter to the editor to the Telegram, and here for info on their letter standards. Please make a post here with a link or letter to the editor information for any other papers where you see the AP story or articles based on it.

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