Background on Crime

Crime topics in the 2020 election cycle:

Defund the police

1994 crime bill


Gay panic defense

Bail reform

Police Body cameras

Central Park 5

First Step Act

Crime topics in the 2016 election cycle:

Black Lives Matter

The National Crime Victimization Survey found the lowest overall crime rate since the survey began in 1973. Since 1994, violent crime rates have declined, reaching the lowest level ever recorded in 2010. Property crime rates continue to decline as well.

Despite the falling crime rate, taking into account both violent crime and property crime, 83 percent of Americans can expect to be a victim of crime at least once in their lifetime.

‘Prison-Industrial Complex’

The opposite viewpoint from ‘Three Strikes’ focuses on the increasing prison population. In this view, along with prison privatization, imprisonment has become big business, and hence subject to political pressure to increase imprisonment. In particular, black males are ever more likely to be imprisoned.

‘Broken Windows’ Laws

‘Broken Windows’ laws mean that police focus on ‘quality of life’ issues as much as on crime itself. By addressing even minor crimes such as broken windows, according to this theory, a community is less likely to tolerate any crime, and overall crime rates should fall.

‘Community Policing’

‘Community Policing’ refers to a policy of crime prevention replacing incident response. It is often accompanied by a ‘broken windows’ policy, or by increased police presence on the streets.

Tort Reform

A ‘tort’ means a civil infraction as opposed to a criminal violation. ‘Tort reform’ includes capping lawsuit rewards; banning ‘frivolous lawsuits’; or some other change in civil lawsuit procedures.

Capital Punishment

The death penalty is currently implemented in 32 states (down from 34 in 2012). It was re-legalized by a Supreme Court decision in 1977. Since then, 1,392 people have been executed. About 3,000 inmates remain on ‘Death Row.’ Texas is by far the national leader in executions—it has executed 518 people as of November 2014, or 37% of the national total. (Oklahoma is a very distant second with 111). Florida is fourth, with 89 executions, but has 404 people on death row as of Nov. 2014 (only California has more, with 745).

Much of the current controversy about the death penalty focuses on the circumstances where it should be applied, and on its unequal application among racial and socioeconomic classes. About 52% of death row inmates are Black or other minority, versus 17% in the general population. Over 98% of death row inmates are male.

Hate Crimes

Congress defines ‘Hate Crimes’ as a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim because of the actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation of that person. Hate Crimes are covered primarily as racial or anti-gay issues under Civil Rights.

Amendments V and VIII to the US Constitution

V. No person shall... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.... (1791)
VIII. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. (1791)

Related issues:
Gun Control
Civil Rights

Click here for Amazon books on Crime.
Pro death penalty
Anti death penalty
Pro three strikes
Anti three strikes

Click here for references and citations books on Crime.

  • Brookings Institute, "What does 'defund the police' mean and does it have merit?," by Rashawn Ray, June 19, 2020
  • ACLU, "Defunding the Police Will Actually Make Us Safer," by Paige Fernandez, June 11, 2020
  • Potomac Local News, "Defunding the police is a bad idea," Letter to the Editor, June 14, 2020
  •, "The controversial 1994 crime law that Joe Biden helped write, explained," by German Lopez, Sep 29, 2020
  • Cornell Law School, "Stop and frisk overview," by the Legal Information Institute, downloaded Oct.2020
  • Bloomberg News, "Michael Bloomberg Audio Emerges of His Stop and Frisk Defense," by Mark Niquette, February 11, 2020
  •, "NYPD's Infamous Stop-and-Frisk Policy Found Unconstitutional," By Taahira Thompson, 08.21.2013
  • American Bar Association, "The Gay/Trans Panic Defense: What It is, and How to End It," by Alexandra Holden, Summer 2019
  • UCLA Law School, "Model Legislation for Eliminating the Gay and Trans Panic Defenses," September 2016
  • Mile-High Magazine, "Colorado Joins 10 Other States In Banning the Gay Panic Defense," by Daliah Singer, July 2, 2020
  • Harvard Law School, "Bail Reform: A Guide For State and Local Policymakers," by Colin Doyle, Chiraag Bains, & Brook Hopkins, February 2019
  • NY Daily News, "This bail reform is a bad idea," by Sean Kennedy, Mar 27, 2019
  • National Institute of Justice, "Body-Worn Cameras: What the Evidence Tells Us," by Brett Chapman, November 14, 2018
  • Wired Magazine, "Body Cameras Haven't Stopped Police Brutality," by Louise Matsakis, 06.17.2020
  • ProCon/Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Police Body Cameras: Top 3 Pros and Cons," 8/14/2020
  •, "Trump still refuses to admit he was wrong about the Central Park 5," by Aaron Rupar, Jun 18, 2019
  • NBC News, "Trump digs in on Central Park 5," by Dareh Gregorian, June 18, 2019
  • Brennan Center, "What Is the First Step Act--And What’s Happening With It?," by Ames Grawert, June 23, 2020
  • Reason Magazine, "The FIRST STEP Act Has Reduced Prison Terms for More Than 7,000 People," by Jacob Sullum, 9.7.2020
  • Other candidates on Crime: Background on other issues:
    2020 Presidential Democratic Primary Candidates:
    V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
    Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
    Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
    Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
    Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
    Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
    Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
    Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
    Gov.Deval Patrick (D-MA)
    Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
    CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
    Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

    2020 GOP and Independent Candidates:
    CEO Don Blankenship (C-WV)
    Gov.Larry Hogan (R-MD)
    Gov.John Kasich (R-OH)
    V.P.Mike Pence (R-IN)
    Gov.Mark Sanford (R-SC)
    CEO Howard Schultz (I-WA)
    Pres.Donald Trump (R-NY)
    Gov.Jesse Ventura (I-MN)
    V.C.Arvin Vohra (L-MD)
    Rep.Joe Walsh (R-IL)
    Gov.Bill Weld (L-MA)

    2020 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
    State Rep.Stacey Abrams (D-GA)
    Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
    Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
    Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
    Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
    Mayor Wayne Messam (D-FL)
    Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
    Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
    Adm.Joe Sestak (D-PA)
    Rep.Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
    Civil Rights
    Foreign Policy
    Free Trade
    Govt. Reform
    Gun Control
    Health Care
    Social Security
    Tax Reform
    War & Peace