Success in the Media

Economic Criminology-Trump’s Crime Address To Congress

Observations

An examination of Trump’s speech to Congress focusing on crime and justice issues.

For those insisting that violent crime is not increasing, you risk being left behind in a national conversation. The rest of us have moved on to solutions.

Trump understands that violent crime profoundly affects everything, including the economy and jobs.

But to break the cycle of poverty, we must also break the cycle of violence.

Author

Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University.

Article

We wrote a briefing paper for the new administration on proposed crime and justice issues on December 12, see Briefing Paper for President Trump.

After watching the President’s speech, we are pleased that many of our proposals were embraced.

No, we’re not delusional; we don’t believe that Trump or his advisors used our suggestions as a boilerplate. But there are parallels with what the President proposed in his speech and what we offered back in December.

But the larger issue is crime, the economy and the impact on jobs. Trump understands that no one will invest in struggling communities if they are afraid.

There are many similarities as to what we proposed, and what the President had to say. Examples:

A Task Force on Violent Crime

To protect our citizens, I have directed the Department of Justice to form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime.  

Our December Briefing Paper

“Create a national commission to prompt a societal consensus on violent crime.”

Notes: We wrote that there was, “no consensus on crime: The first thing to understand about crime is that there are few (if any) issues that everyone agrees on. Criminal justice topics are mostly ruled by politics and personal philosophies.  There is a difference between understanding crime and choosing successful tactics. We can’t even agree if crime if going up in the country (it is).”

We understand that there has to be a rational, logical strategy that law enforcement experts agree on to prompt a national consensus. Per polling data, police officials are still the most trusted source on crime.

Support for Law Enforcement

Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job. But to create this future, we must work with, not against — not against — the men and women of law enforcement.  We must build bridges of cooperation and trust — not drive the wedge of disunity and, really, it’s what it is, division.  It’s pure, unadulterated division.  We have to unify.  

Police and sheriffs are members of our community.  They’re friends and neighbors, they’re mothers and fathers, sons and daughters — and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry about whether or not they’ll come home safe and sound.  We must support the incredible men and women of law enforcement.

Our December Briefing Paper

“There are two things that we know, the vale of cops and crime control is proven when they are absent, and that crime rose recently in cities where cops stopped being aggressive (effectively absent).”

“It would help if you got personally involved in setting a national agenda as to what law enforcement should do.”

“The last two years have been particularly hard on cops, so a little recognition from you would help morale and set a standard of expiations on how officers should conduct themselves.”

“Get personally involved in police officer deaths or serious injuries; see President’s Office of Peace Officer Service.”

“If we are asking cops to take increased risks, they and their families need to know that the country supports them.”

Notes: For decades, many criminologists questioned the role of cops and crime control. Since the recent riots and dramatically increasing violent crime in many cities due to cops “holding back,” that question has been answered. Trump understands that we need cops to be constitutionally and ethically aggressive.

Increasing Violent Crime

But to break the cycle of poverty, we must also break the cycle of violence.  The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century.  In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone, and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher.  This is not acceptable in our society.

Our December Briefing Paper

“Data from the Department of Justice (crime reported to police via the FBI-National Crime Survey) tell us that there has been an almost continuous decrease in crime for the last twenty years. Some criminologists suggest that we have never lived in safer times.”

“But if you say that, the nation will suggest that you have lost your mind.”

“Crime continues to be an immense concern for Americans; fear of crime is at a 15 year high per Gallup, gun sales are going through the roof.”

“Home security sales are increasing. Crime is a top item in local news coverage.”

“And just to add to the confusion, Gallup states that crime (per their methodology) is at record highs. See Gallup Says Crime and Fear Are Up.”

Notes: Violent crime went in 2015, the first six months of 2016, and Gallup states that we are at records highs for crime and fear of crime, see Crime in America. For those who don’t remember, violent crime destroys cities and metropolitan areas. Nothing will happen economically or socially when people are afraid.

Yes, major news sources and many criminologists firmly state that longitudinally, crime hasn’t increased.  While historically correct, the statements are silly. People are suffering. It’s time to move on.

Victim Assistance

And we must support the victims of crime.  I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American victims.  The office is called VOICE — Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement.  We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media and silenced by special interests.

Our December Briefing Paper

“Create a national advertising campaign encouraging victims to state the impact that crime has on their lives. Support a federal Constitutional amendment expanding victim rights; the states will follow with improved or new amendments of their own.”

Notes: The proposed office has an immigration focus, but it’s impossible to exclude other victims of crime; national victim assistance organizations and the country won’t allow it. Trump understands this. He is rightly trying to re-engage the victim’s community and the high moral ground that conveys.

Condemning Hate and Evil

Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our nation’s path towards civil rights and the work that still remains to be done.  Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.

Our December Briefing Paper

“Society controls crime. It’s up to society and communities to police themselves; this is criminology 101. The criminal justice system does not control crime. The system has little influence over anyone who chooses to hit their spouse or do drugs or evade their taxes or purchase stolen goods or any other form of illegality.”

“Societal norms can be successfully molded to condemn and reduce drinking and driving, spouse abuse, drug use (beyond marihuana) and other issues.”

‘If the larger society does not buy into self-regulation (i.e., Prohibition) there is little the system can do about it.”

Notes: Trump started his speech condemning attacks on Jews, but the larger message was a societal consensus on attacking social evil, and he sees crime as a civil rights and a societal issue. His economic agenda will never succeed if people are too afraid to economically invest in cities.

Substance Abuse

We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth, and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.  

Our December Briefing Paper

“People will tell you that substance abuse should be treated as a public health problem without having a clue as to what that means, or what it would cost. We currently treat very few people who need it.”

“Expanding treatment to everyone would require massive expenditures and, quite simply, we don’t have the personnel to do it. Substance abuse and mental health issues are co-occurring and very difficult to treat.”

Notes: Trump understands that universal, individualized drug treatment (what’s recommended by experts) is beyond our capacity to provide, thus the emphasis on treatment expansion.

Drug use is societally driven (i.e., marijuana use increasing-we believe that marijuana use should be legalized). Like drinking and driving or spouse abuse, there needs to be a societal consensus as to what’s appropriate. He also understands that he will never stop the flow of drugs, whether they come across the border or produced internally.

Trump’s hoping that better jobs will have an effect.

Gun Control

There was no mention of gun control in the President’s speech

Our December Briefing Paper

“There are over 350 million firearms in the United States per the Washington Post. If you prohibited all firearms, it would take a lifetime for the ban to have any effect.”

“Per the National Crime Survey, the overwhelming number of crimes do not involve firearms. You may want to consider expansion of background checks to gun shows or auctions (you could equip a small army at an auction), but beyond that, you are on shaky ground with many Americans.”

Notes: There is no societal consensus on gun control. I live in the Appalachian mountains where the economy is hurting, there are drugs and a ton of guns, but violent crime is very low.

Final Analysis

The President stated that we are a nation divided by politics.

We stated in our December briefing paper that…

“The first thing to understand about crime is that there are few (if any) issues that everyone agrees on. Criminal justice topics are mostly ruled by politics and personal philosophies.”

We endlessly dispute whether violent crime is up when it rose in 2015, the first six months of 2016, and Gallup states that we are at records highs for crime and fear of crime, see Crime in America.

I assume that we disagree so intensely over crime because we’ve taken political sides; those insisting that we are at historical lows while ignoring the data on increases seem to be consistently anti-Trump.

But the rest of the country appears to be moving on, convinced that the US “is” besieged by a growing problem of violent crime.

For those insisting that violent crime is not increasing, you risk being left behind in a national conversation where most of us have moved on to solutions.

But in the final analysis, Trump is trying to introduce an economic criminology; a bet that controlling crime clears the deck for people willing to invest in struggling communities. We’ve fled cities and shopping areas due to crime simply because people are afraid to go there. Dramatically reducing that fear (and offering tax incentives) means that those with jobs to offer will be more likely invest.

Crime control is a gamble, and a big one at that, but it’s probably the only way to lift people out of poverty in high crime areas.

Crime in America at http://crimeinamerica.net

Contact us at [email protected].

Media on deadline, use [email protected].

The President’s Speech: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/28/remarks-president-trump-joint-address-congress

Our December briefing paper on crime: http://www.crimeinamerica.net/2016/12/12/donald-trump-and-crime-a-briefing-paper/


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