Reasons for Violent Crimes/Homicides
Having been hired as a criminal justice expert by the Puerto Rico homicide investigation authority, it is important to examine the facts and the justification behind the increased homicide rates in the country. 779 people were killed in the United States commonwealth in 2003. This statistic is far above the national average of the states themselves. These numbers are essentially due to the increased amount of drug trafficking that the country has seen. The increase in cartels has essentially allowed for the poor economy to be superseded by the black market. The drug trade, then, has become more appealing to young children, who see it as a better opportunity then what they could get if they stayed in school. This, coupled with police corruption, have led to the increased homicide rate in the country.
The rate of murders in the country has steadily increased in Puerto Rico. Despite initiating longer police patrols in more places, this number continued to steadily rise. These murders are even worse when considering that many of them were innocent individuals who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. From school children to people simply driving in their car, many of the murders seem to have been from proxy violence not directed at them. This authority wants to know what is causing this type of crime in order to alleviate these problems, which requires an in depth look at the factors that have led to this increase in violence for Puerto Rico.
Other than the bystanders, many of these murders have been carried out in the wake of the growing Puerto Rican drug trafficking market. This is further evidenced by the fact that actual violent crimes, those crimes directed and committed against one another by citizens, has actually been falling, while the rate of murder has gone up. This represents the effect that this trade has had on innocent individuals within the commonwealth. “Violence is widespread among the many retail-level drug distributors in the region” (Washington 17). While the drug trade has been rising, more and more innocent individuals are caught in the crossfire of violence that results from the market.
This drug problem is closely related to the social issues that Puerto Rico faces. Almost 20 percent of children in the country drop out of school before of graduation. These high rates are because of a struggling economy. While families struggle to send their kids to school, the kids aren’t sure if it will result in a successful career, and so turn to crime as a more lucrative form of income. This is an important factor in the rise of the drug trade, as those who can’t find jobs due to a lack of education can often fall into the market of drug trafficking or distribution in order to make enough money to live. “Students who view themselves as unlikely to go to college may perceive that there is little pay-off to staying in school if the labor market opportunities for high school graduates are relatively poor” (Alison 19). As these individuals drop out of school and join the drug trade, they contribute to the rising violence, and the growing amount of homicides that are committed in the country.
Police corruption is another overarching factor in the rise of homicide in Puerto Rico. The corruption in the commonwealth’s police force is a difficult challenge that needs to be faced in order to resolve these issues. “More PRPD officers are involved in criminal activity than in any other major law enforcement agency in the country” (Cutlar 14). This is due to a combination of their poor economy and the established drug trade, which taken together offer strong incentive for the police to forgo their moral compasses for the monetary and economic benefits of crime. This corruption has resulted in an increased amount of homicides in Puerto Rico. The police force are, for this reason, less likely to help some individuals from being murdered, and are, in fact, likely to murder individuals themselves for drug cartels due to the rampant corruption.
These issues, all taken together, create a situation in which the homicide rate in the country has steadily increased to the present day. This is primarily due to a combination of the factors of drugs, poor economy, and corruption. These factors represent the primary problems in the country that lead to the rise of homicide. The drug trade naturally breeds violence in communities through its need for domination of the market. The struggling economy creates a situation in which children often drop out of school for the more promising pay that they hope to receive in the criminal market. Finally, these elements are exacerbated by a corrupt police force, which is statistically just as likely to commit a murder as it is to solve one.
This authority wants to know what it can do to prevent this type of crime, which requires a look at the preventative measures that can be taken in order to reduce the murder rate in Puerto Rico. There are various preventative measures that can be taken in order to curb this type of criminal violence in Puerto Rico. These measures essentially revolve around the stability of the commonwealth’s economy as well as the ability of individuals within Puerto Rico to find decent employment. By committing to these factors, the demand in black market drugs should hopefully decrease, creating less of an incentive for young kids to join the drug trade and for the police force to forgo their ethics in order to make extra money or to comply with the black market out of fear. The implementation of these measures is, in this way, a step towards reducing crime in Puerto Rico.
The main problem facing the violent crime rate is the drug trade that has taken hold in the country. This trade has grown primarily due to both the demand for black market goods and the influx of young people who are willing to take part. This has not only created an atmosphere in which homicides and other violent crimes are common, but necessary for the underground market to function. By stemming the tide of drugs and other black market goods that are going into Puerto Rico, the government can hope to effectively reduce the hold that the criminal world has on the country’s economy. In this way, the amount of homicides can be reduced through the reduction of the criminal world that promotes them.
The most important aspect of stemming this trade is to create an environment in which these young people would rather stay in school in order to obtain a legal job taking part in Puerto Rico’s economy than join the black market to sell counterfeit goods, drugs, or to commit murder or other violent crimes. This is an essential aspect in stemming the amount of these crimes that take place. The fact that it is easier to drop out of school and obtain a job in the criminal world is a direct impact on the amount of homicides that are committed in the country. This influx of criminal activity promotes violence, which can often lead to the deaths of innocent bystanders, only fueling the homicide rates in the country.
In order to resolve this issue, however, the problem of police corruption must be addressed. By increasing the amount of accountability that these officers have to the community, the amount of corruption that they take part in could be decreased. Furthermore, through the implementation of incentives, the draw of the criminal world might be able to be cut short, thus removing the police force from the criminal underworld. The most important issue facing this is the monetary gain that these individuals hope to gain through taking part in violent and other forms of crime. By making their lives easier economically, it would be possible to reduce the amount of sway that the criminal world has on the police force. In this way, the force would be working towards helping the people of Puerto Rico stop violent crimes as opposed to contributing to them.
Allison, Neil. (2006). Students Dropping Out of Puerto Rico Public Schools. Smart Thinking.
Brown, Matthew Hay. (2004). Puerto Rico's Homicide Rate Climbing. The Morning Call.
Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (2011). Investigation of the Puerto Rico Police Department. United States
Washington, Dennis C. (2011). Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands High Intensity Drug Trafficking
Area. U.S. Department of Justice. Drug Market Analysis 2011.