Liberal – Nicole Cheney
Cities as we know them have statistically higher rates of crime due to the nature of urban America. Just by virtue of greater anonymity, denser living conditions, and increased poverty in cities, there is a higher propensity for crime. Cities historically have been the home of the working class and urban poor from the onset of industrialization. Work commutes are shorter and cheaper (and most often public) in cities, compared to suburban or rural travels which often require a car, a license, and gas money. Rent is expensive, but not nearly as expensive as a down payment on a house. The conditions in a city inherently attract a poorer population. This is a major risk factor in crime involvement, particularly in gang activity and a drug economy. Consider, furthermore, that cities tend to have the greatest proportions of immigrants and people of color, who are statistically more likely to experience poverty and disenfranchisement. Environment, ultimately, is the most significant factor of urban crime.
Independent – Arif Uddin
Crime appears to be an unfortunate but inevitable aspect of cities. However, this has more to do with the conditions of American cities than the people who inhabit them. Despite being a part of the most prosperous and wealthy civilization in human history, American cities have failed to address the conditions which coerce people into criminal activity. Instead of providing support and opportunities to those most vulnerable to falling into criminal activity, governments, federal, state and local, have waged a war on crime. It quickly turned into a war on criminals and resulted in a vicious cycle which produces ever more crime in cities.
Poverty is a demonstrated cause of crime. Individuals who grow up in poverty-ridden homes are more likely be involved in criminal activity. In addition, children in poorer neighborhoods are likely to receive a lower quality education and have less access to stimulating extra-curricular activities. Conditions such as these, which are far too common in cities, push people towards committing crimes.
Yet, instead of addressing these issues of poverty, underfunded education, unequal access to recreational activities, the criminal justice system continues to wage war on the citizens in the most distressed situations.
Conservative – Carmel Rafalowski
As a skeptic, a cynic, and a general doubter of goodwill, I tend to see the worst in people. As such, I find it easy to believe that crime and an individual’s propensity to perpetrate an act of crime has more to do with the person than it does with their environment, physical or otherwise.
That said, cities prove a complex topic where a single motivating factor cannot be easily discerned. After much deliberation, I’ve come to the opinion that it is a confluence of factors that influences an individual’s decision to commit a criminal act and contribute to the high rate of crime in a city. Education, upbringing, moral and ethical beliefs, and frankly, the sheer opportunity to commit a crime all play a role. But I believe the structure of a city affects the number and type of opportunities individuals face.
The natural flow of resources and investment within a city leads to areas that are neglected and attract individuals of already questionable moral character that wish to perpetrate crimes, either for pleasure or fiscal gain. For a myriad of reasons, honest and hard-working disadvantaged folk tend to end up in these areas, where there are little to no resources, and financial opportunities are few, or require a commute. Between the actual, physical space of a city and a person’s character, there is plenty of room to go wrong. It is evident that both factors play a role in this situation.