Group, Governors Warn Of Impending Crime Wave And Offer New Agenda To Fight It
Washington, DC – At a press conference with Governors from around the country, Third Way today released a paper that warns of a coming wave of crime and offers more than 100 federal, state, and local policy options to handle the impending problem. The group also released the findings of a new national poll revealing that public concern over crime is high and growing.
The paper and poll were released at a Washington press conference that included Governors Kathleen Sebelius (KS), Janet Napolitano (AZ), Phil Bredesen (TN), and Martin O’Malley (MD). Pointing to the findings in the paper, the Governors announced a 21st century crime-fighting agenda to combat this wave.
In The Impending Crime Wave, Third Way describes the convergence of four new and menacing sociological trends, which, together with the recent federal disengagement from crime-fighting, threaten a new and devastating wave of crime in America. These trends include:
•The Reentry Explosion: A massive group of prisoners are poised to reenter their communities over the next several years. In the 1980s, 2.5 million prisoners were released; in this decade, it will be nearly 7 million, with 700,000 in the next year alone.
•The Lengthening Shadow of Illegal Immigration: With more that 12 million illegal immigrants now in the country, a shadow economy that both serves and exploits illegal immigrants is large and growing, and a small but violent minority of illegal immigrants are themselves offenders.
•The Sprawling Parentless Neighborhood of the Internet: Technology, in particular the explosion of online social networking, is exposing increasing numbers of young children and teenagers to a surge in sexual predation on the Internet.
•The Surging Youth Population: Young people commit far more crimes than the general population, and the demographic bulge in young people, if not effectively addressed, will account for about 2.5 million more crimes by 2012.
The Third Way paper notes that crime, a major political issue in the 1980s when rates were high, receded from the political radar as national crime rates fell for 14 years. But a new Third Way poll, conducted by Cooper & Secrest Associates, reveals that crime is returning to the national consciousness: by a five-to-one margin, Americans believe there is more crime in America than one year ago, and by a margin of 69-19%, Americans feel that crime is more of a threat to their own safety than terrorism.
At the press conference, each of the governors pointed to work that they and their colleagues at the state and local level were doing to confront the growing crime problem, noting the uniquely 21st century nature of the challenge. They noted that the dozens of policy ideas enumerated in the Third Way paper showed the innovation and effort on crime fighting going on in the states, and they stressed that they were getting ahead of the problem and offering concrete solutions. Each also called on the federal government, which had been a major partner in crime-fighting in the 1990s, to restore the programs and funding that had made a major difference in anti-crime initiatives nationwide.
Governor Sebelius, who chairs the Third Way Governors initiative, stated in her remarks: “State and local governments face new and dangerous trends that, without significant federal support, will have a devastating impact on communities around the country. We urge the federal government to re-engage in America’s crime problem and join Governors in advancing a 21st century crime-fighting agenda.”
Rachel Laser, Director of the Third Way Culture Program and co-author of the paper, noted: “The danger of a return to the old days of high crime rates is real, and Americans understand that. We applaud the work that Governors are doing to combat these 21st century crimes with real policy solutions that can ensure that we get ahead of this impending wave.”
The paper and poll can be found at Third Way’s website: www.thirdway.org.
Contact: Matt Bennett (202) 775-3768 x212