Family Focus: Does the perception of crime match reality?

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Crime in the capital city appears to be rising compared to the first quarter of 2023, according to an analysis by the Baton Rouge Police Department.

However, human rights advocates said despite that trend, pro-prison policies passed by the state legislature are not the solution to fighting crime. They said the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in Louisiana showed success in addressing the issue.

FBI data showed Baton Rouge homicides dropped 13 percent during the few months of 2023. Violent crime overall was down 6 percent across the country. Property crime was also down about 3 percent. Law experts believe more time is needed to figure out what works and what does not.

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“Is it investments in college education programs that the savings from the justice reforms in Louisiana enabled or does it have to do with more community based policing where people feel they can trust police in their community,” said Anthony Enriquez, vice president of U.S. advocacy and litigation at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

Enriquez extensively researched this issue. Studies show as crime rates decline, people’s perception of crime seems to do the opposite. “One life lost is one too many, and there is, at the end of the day, a profound sense of injustice when someone in your family is taken from you by violence, said Enriquez.

Other factors that change perception include what’s reported in the news. Experts also said social media plays a part. Some crime videos go viral.

Enriquez said, “It’s also the federal government has had a hand in encouraging the adoption of more pro-prison policies.”

Some believe candidates will use crime to draw their base to the polls ahead of the November election.

“Large voting blocks of dedicated Republican and dedicated Democratic voters consider violent crime to be one of the most important issues,” Enriquez said.

Several community leaders in the metro area said that fighting crime requires investments in poverty and education.

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