Crime in Arkansas
There are a great number of efforts that are being conducted by various governments, volunteers and community based organizations to measure and assess territorial conditions. For this reason we have been afforded a rich supply of information collected through their efforts and some are already used as a means to guide the allocation of donor funds, influence public policy and provide a service to the community. There also are a range of methods or approaches to come up with concepts and theories derived from the various data collected to obtain a broad view or a general status of the community so that forecast can be obtained, strategies are graphed, policies are created and concrete action embarked on. These being the case, preferred indicators or gauges of measurement are chosen because of variant concerns of various groups. Indicators however are items of information; they are statistical facts drawn to provide insight into the condition of a community. Persistent assessment however can lead to indicate a trend, an inclination or a tendency. This inclination or tendency now becomes the bigger picture of the overall status from which one can draw a concept or a theory.
In our case however, we would use a very significant tool that UWMD (United Ways of Metropolitan Dallas, 2005) is using which can give us a simplified picture of assessing not only the crime trends but also the conditions in a specific community, state or nation. The illustration below or the ‘community assessment dashboard legend’ captures three trends: upwards, sideways and downward. An upward trend means that more crimes are reported in a specific period. A sideward-pointing arrow indicates that there is not much movement in crime situation, at least, the movement is slight, either upward or downward. Finally, the downward arrow trend indicates a lessening of crime reporting. These trends do not necessarily correspond to the complementary conditions given. An upward trend, or an increase in crimes reported, may or may not indicate that the condition in a locality, state or nation is unmanageable. Similarly, a decrease in crimes reported may not necessarily mean that the locality is generally “safer”. Trend has to be evaluated in the light of a bigger picture. For example, the crime rate may be decreasing but it may be possible that law enforcement agencies’ efforts to accost crime perpetrators are not having success. However, there are other factors aside from failures of law enforcers that may contribute to the unmanageable conditions. It may be community policies or laws that may overrule efforts of law enforcers. It may be products produced by businessmen, application of advanced technology that may hinder the bringing of criminals to justice. Thus though crime rate decreases, it does not necessarily mean a manageable condition. The community is still unsafe since criminals are still on the loose. Thus, it is necessary that, together with the study of the trends an evaluation of the general condition is in order. (Community Need Assessment. 2005)
In the case of “community safety” a good indicator would be the crime rate. This indicator can well impart essential information about the magnitude of certain needs, the social problems and other contributing factors to make possible an improved engagement to the needs and problems of the community and to rightly verify the overall performance of the community in addressing issues, needs or problems. (2005 community needs assessment)
There are 8 known offenses that are on record known as “Crime Index”, only 8 because of their seriousness, frequency of occurrence, and likelihood of being reported to police.
The first 4 fall under ‘violent crimes’ and the other 4 under ‘property crimes’. An article from Wiseto social issues describes crime as any act that is forbidden by law because it is harmful to people, property, or society. (WiseTo Social Issues, 2008) And since the fundamental cause or from which crimes are committed differs, there have been various methodological assumptions pointing to either something psychological or physical causes.
Nature of Crime in Arkansas
The Crime Index is a standardized measure of the level of crime in a given location (Crime in Arkansas 2001), while crime rate refers to crime statistics based on the number of index crimes per 100,000 population. This index reflects only those crimes that are considered serious and are the ones more frequently reported to law enforcement agencies. It should be noted at the outset that the crime index does not reflect the actual crimes committed in a locality. It merely shows the crimes that come to law enforcement agency offices, crimes actually reported upon incidence. In the discussion given in the introduction, we noted 8 common offenses divided into violent crimes and property crimes.
Following is a brief description of each of the 8 most common offenses reported. These descriptions were taken from “Crimes in Arkansas 2001”, a publication of the Statistical Analysis Center Special Services Division, Arkansas Crime Information Center.
In the crime index for the state of Arkansas for the years 2002 and 2003, it will be noted that crime against property far outnumbers violent crimes; the most commonly reported being theft. Of the more than 90,000 incidence of property crime, about 2/3 of this is classified under theft. Violent crimes index, on the other hand, make up about only 10% of the whole crime picture with aggravated assault being the number 1 offence and makes up about 70% of the total violent crimes reported. For the two consecutive years mentioned, the increase in theft was only .4% while aggravated assault increased by 15% for the same consecutive years covered.
In 2004, Arkansas had as estimated population of 2,752,629. For that year the State of Arkansas had a total crime index of 4,535.4 reported incidents per 100,000 people. This ranked as having the 16th highest total crime index. Theft and Aggravated assault were the number one crimes in terms of property and violence, respectively
The 2006 crime index reveals much the same crime index patterns for the state. Property crimes account for 87% of all crimes and only 13% violent crimes. Of all the property crimes, theft ranks number one and constitutes 65% of all property crimes. Aggravated assault meanwhile, also takes top position constituting 72% of all violent crimes.
Crime Trends in Arkansas
A quick glimpse at the 30-year Arkansas crime trend shows an increasing trend in both
violent and property crimes index. This table was computed based on statistics given in The Disaster Center (2005). It is noteworthy that trend for the crime of murder has decreased in number for almost 2 decades, 1974-1984 and 1996-2006. Burglary is also seen to
decrease in the last decade considered.
In the national crime scene, basing on reports in the year 2004, we observe the same
trends with respect to violent crimes. The total number of violent crimes reported was estimated
at 1,367,009. Of these aggravated assaults comprised 62.5 %, robbery 29.4%, rape 6.9% and
murder 1.2%. These figures correspond with Arkansas state figures where we find aggravated
assault topping the list for violent crimes. The national trend, however, is decreasing. This
decrease was measured at 4.1% compared to 2000 and 24% compared to 1995. This data was
based on a 10 year trend data. In specific violent crimes, it was noted that robberies also decreased 3.1 %, murder decreased by 2.1% and aggravated assault by .5%. The only violent
crime that showed increase was forcible rape at .8%.(Crimes in the US, 2004)
In same time frame of 2003-2004, property crimes committed was estimated at 10,328,255. This figure represents a 1.1% decrease from 2003 and 1.4 increase compared to
2000. Each of the individual property crimes showed a decrease from 2003 estimates. Larseny-
theft was the number one property offense. (Crimes in the US. 2004).
Comparing Arkansas figure with the national figures for 2004, we find that the crime
indices (per 100,000 inhabitants) for violent and property crimes were higher in the state than in the nation. All subitems, except for robbery and car theft were higher in Arkansas than in the
country per 100,000 inhabitants.
Examining the data for the municipalities in the Arkansas state revealed similar results.
Violent crime has fewer offenses than property crimes. The highest number of violent crimes was in the area of aggravated assault and the highest for property crimes was larceny-theft. The metropolitan areas examined were Fayetteville Springdale Rogers, Fort Smith, Hot Springs,
Jonesboro, Little Rock, Memphis, Pine Bluff and Texarcana.
No meaningful comparisons can be made in the use of data from towns, cities, counties, states or regions until all the variables that affect crime are examined. (Crimes in the US, 2004)There are many things to consider regarding the specific characteristic of a certain locality to be able to assess criminality in that place. Many variables affect the crime picture. Some may even be hard to measure. Factors such as geographic and demographic have to be considered in order to make an accurate assessment of the peculiar crime situations of a certain locality. Contributing factors that have to be considered are the kind of people residing in the place, their transience, their racial and ethnic makeup, their composition by age and gender, educational levels and prevalent family structures. (Crime in the US, 2004) Also important is to understand the locality’s industrial and economic base, dependence on neighboring communities; its economic dependence on nonresidents, proximity to military establishments, prisons, religion, social decay, lack of moral, media, punishment policies, preventions and etc.
The significance of law and its corresponding punishment to its community is also another factor because it has an effect on the number of crimes being reported by the residents of that place. A good definition of what constitutes “crime record” that is available to us is described this way, what constitutes a crime depends on the social and political factors in a particular society, and the nature of crime can “change over time”. According to the laws of the United States, an act generally must be committed with the specific intention of causing harm to be considered a crime (WiseTo Social Issues, 2008) In our case the person must admit that harm to Him or Her took place.
Explanation of consistency or differences across jurisdiction
But a rewarding value derived from record keeping is the usefulness of all this data’s (state and national) to prove or test theories or models to discover certain trends and substantiate other trends if there is any: The temperature/aggression (T/A) theory derived from studies that approximate hot temperature as the cause (Anderson 1989, 2001 as quoted by Hipp, et.al. 2004),and the Routine Activities (RA) theory where “altered behavioral patterns” is causing crimes (Cohen & Felson 1979 as quoted by Hipp, et.al. 2004). Both Cohen & Felson derive their theory that crimes can only occur when the three elements are present (1) an offender, (2) a suitable target, and (3) the absence of guardians. They say that results taken from T/A theory can only prove RA theory because when climate is very cold, individuals tend to stay at their houses, thus reducing the number of suitable targets for crime. Consequently, burglary, assault and robbery become more difficult since targets are not visible but in their homes. These theories however are well supported by data (Hipp, et. al. 2004)
All these factors however that are stated above can affect and shape the psychological condition of the person committing the crime and the victim of a specific area therefore as a reason, there is difficulty in standardization in reporting to national government because it is also necessary to overcome the variation in definitions from person to person and state to state. The efforts of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) which was established even gave way because of the variance in punishment of the same offenses in different states, since it is not possible to distinguish between felony (used in common law systems for very serious crimes) and misdemeanor crimes (considered to be less serious offenses). But after FBI transferred the responsibility for data collection to state-operated UCR programs, Arkansas then assumed this responsibility in 1974. Data became more readily available for use by the state. Though this compiled information from all reporting agencies is forwarded by the state program to the national program.
Crime Assessment Dashboard
The following dashboard gives us a simplified view of the crime summary for 2006. Data in this table includes crime trends, upward and downward, depending on the statistics for the period. The percentage of the crime in comparison to the total population are computed and tabulated. This gives us a general picture of the locality’s crime manageability. In summary, we observe that the overall crime situation in the state of Arkansas is manageable.
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