Monday, July 02, 2018

Violent crime rate in rural U.S. at highest level in a decade

The violent crime rate in rural America has climbed above the national average for the first time in 10 years, and rural areas have the highest incarceration rates in the country, Alan Greenblatt reports for Governing magazine: "The explanations for this change are familiar ones. Not all rural areas are poor, but many have lost jobs as factories have closed and farming has become increasingly consolidated," Greenblatt writes. "Lack of employment has naturally led to increases in poverty, which is closely associated with crime. The opioid epidemic has hit rural America particularly hard, and methamphetamine remains a major problem in many small towns."

Meanwhile, rural areas face a shortage of law enforcement personnel. Dwindling tax bases mean sheriff's offices and police forces have had to make cut-backs, which means fewer deputies and officers to patrol counties and small towns, and less money for building or maintaining jails. "Lack of enforcement, naturally, breeds crime," Greenblatt reports. "Criminals, particularly those dealing in drugs, become emboldened or move operations to areas where there’s little danger of detection."

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