Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What's REALLY Behind Last Year's Bloodbath

Well, last year ended with 392 murders in Philadelphia, slightly less than 2006, despite a gruesome summer.

What was behind this violence, and its sudden decline. There is no one solution, but I think this NPR story holds some clues. What we saw was good law enforcement in action! Yes!

You see, according to federal drug enforcement officials, such as Drug Czar John Walters, there were major successes in curbing the amount of drugs, particularly cocaine, coming into the country early this year. One of the first places hit by the cocaine shortage was Philadelphia, where the scarcity started in May. In the following summer, there were massive amounts of violence.

Coincidence? I think not.

You see, drug shortages contribute to violence in at least two ways. First, drug gangs start competing more for territory, in order to make up for lost revenue. Second, drug addicts become more desperate for drugs, which means they became more violent and willing to rob people.

The story also contains a clue to why violence dropped later in the year. As one Philadelphia detective they interviewed notes, the shortage ended with the summer, creating less stimulus for violence.

Of course, this is not the only reason for the drop in violence. Violence always drops somewhat after the summer ends. Furthermore, the Philadelphia Police have been given impetus to crack down by the election of a reformist mayor, a new, tough police chief whom precinct captains will want to make a good impression on, not to mention a spate of Philly police officers getting shot.

Nonetheless, I think this is worth considering when we look at our nation's drug laws.

No comments: