Last year Jackson had the highest homicide rate of any city in America, with 155 homicides. To put that grisly statistic in perspective, that was about the same number of homicides as happened in Atlanta, a city with almost four times the population.
The progressive media seems desperate to avoid attributing any of the blame to Jackson’s city leadership. Rather like the failure to provide the city with running water, everyone but the city leadership is held responsible. Why? It does a disservice to Jackson residents.
There is a lot of wishful thinking when it comes to crime. If only, some imply, we had one more rehabilitation program or enacted another bill that purported to help ex-offenders all would be okay. Sadly, good intentions don’t cut crime. Being honest about the causes of crime might.
Responsibility for crime lies with criminals. Responsibility for failing to deal with criminals rests with those public officials mandated to run the criminal justice system.
Next time there is another killing, Jackson’s leaders will do what they always do. They will emote about it. What we need to hear instead is what they will actually do.
Here are five specific actions they could take that would cut crime in Jackson:
More police: Despite the often heroic efforts of individual law enforcement officers, there are simply not enough of them.
Prosecute: No matter how effective the police are at chasing suspects through the streets, there are serious failings when it comes to pursuing them through the courts. Who in Jackson has not heard stories of suspects being allowed to walk free?
Detention: The failure to have enough detention capacity in Hinds County is outrageous. Build it.
Clear the courts: The bureaucratic backlog in the courts is perhaps the single biggest impediment to effective justice. Clear the backlog of cases. If those that administer the court system can’t cope, bring in administrators that can.
Work with the state: Every city likes to manage its own affairs. I get that. But the state capital ought to be able to team up with state-wide officials, police forces and prosecutors to tackle a problem that impacts us all.
I live and work in Jackson – and I love to call this city home. Jackson might seem caught in downward spiral, but every city has the power to regenerate itself.
New York in the early 80s seemed caught in a spiral of decline. But the city revived once it got a grip on crime. The key to Jackson’s future is to get a grip on crime.
That can only happen if we are honest about crime and recognize the changes needed.
Douglas Carswell, President & CEO, Mississippi Center for Public Policy.