Illinois is a Midwestern state with its headquarters in Springfield. The largest city in the state is Chicago. The population of the state according to 2014 figures is approximately 12.5 million residents, which make it the fifth largest state in terms of population. Chicago, the largest city in the state also boasts the third highest city population in the United States behind New York and Los Angeles. As mentioned, Springfield is the seat of government with the Illinois state capitol located in downtown Springfield. The state is largely balanced politically with both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party almost splitting the votes in half. However, the state has in recent elections voted democrat, partly because the current United States president hails from the area and was its former senator.
Currently, Bruce Rauner is the state’s governor elected on a Republican Party ticket and the senator for the state is democrat Dick Durbin. Like most states, the government of Illinois consists of three arms, the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. The state governor is in charge of the executive while the general assembly is in charge of legislature. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court and other lower courts. These arms of government are very important in the state. The two main issue facing Illinois state as a whole is the high level of crime and fracking. The three arms of government have a very important role to play in addressing these issues.
Illinois State as a whole has a crime rate of about 380 violent crimes per every 100000 people. This figure makes Illinois state the 20th most dangerous state in the United States (Kevin). According to 2008 figures, a total of 450,000 crimes were reported in the state including about 800 murders. In the same year, the state had a total of 877 state and local law enforcement agencies employing over 50000 workers of whom slightly above 40000 had arresting powers. This leads to a police population ratio of approximately 327 officers for every 100000 people (Kevin). However, in discussing crime in the state, it is important to concentrate on known crime spots such as Chicago, which ranks as the most dangerous city in the United States in 2015.
The state laws do not permit capital punishment and therefore the maximum sentence a convicted criminal can get is a life sentence. However, some crimes that take a different approach are handled by the federal courts. In such instances, capital punishment applies as per federal law.
Crime has been a major issue in the windy city since the 1960s with violent crime peaking in the mid-1970s where there were almost 1000 murders in a then population of three million. This is a murder rate of almost 30 people for every 100000 (Kevin). The current crime figure is approximately 20 murders per every 100000 people. Despite the decline and recording fewer murders than Los Angeles and New York, the murder rate is still very high (about twice the rate in New York and slightly higher than Los Angeles, a much larger city) (Kevin). According to mid-2000s figures, approximately 75% of all violent crimes involved a firearm with 11% being stabbings (Neighborhood Scout). 10% of all murders in the same period were as a result of armed robberies while 30% of all crime was gang related. Approximately 75-76% of all victims and offenders were African American with 93% and 85% of offenders and victims being male. As such, crime is a major issue in the state and especially in the city of Chicago. In early 2013, the violent crime rates in Chicago were higher than in Iraq, a warzone (Kevin).
Crime is a very important issue in the state because of the implications it has on the state. First, the primary objective of any government is the safeguarding of the life, the livelihood, and the wellbeing of each individual under their jurisdiction. It is therefore the government’s role to ensure the safety of its citizens. Secondly, crime affects the economy with high crime rates discouraging investment. Despite the high crime rate witnessed in the city, the current figures are significantly lower than those experienced in the 1960s through to the early 1990s. This is because a number of solutions have been made. The law enforcement of Chicago has undertaken proposals in the recent years from Los Angeles. These are two cities that have faced similar problems in the past and Los Angeles has been able to largely tame crimes in its jurisdiction. This has involved new training regimes among the city’s law enforcement agencies and use of new technologies in combating crime. In the recent past, there have been cases of police brutality targeted at African Americans. As noted in the figures, African American makes up majority of the offenders in the city and in the state. This has also raised an issue of discrimination.
Fracking is a fairly recent process of extracting oil from the ground. Until recently, the most common way of recovering oil from the ground was drilling to a reservoir and the high pressure in the reservoir in the ground would force the oil to the surface. With recent fears about the known oil reserves running out, new methods have been developed to ensure more efficient recovery from the ground. Fracking is one such process and it involves drilling one main shaft into the ground vertically. From this vertical shaft, horizontal shafts are drilled into the ground. The best rock for fracking is shale (Marcovici, 25).
In the horizontal shafts, water mixed with chemicals and sand is injected into the walls at a high pressure forcing the oil in these rocks to become dislodged. The oil then drains into the vertical shaft and the induced pressure forces it to the surface. Fracking has raised issues mainly due to environment al concerns (Nowlan and Johnson, 55). It is important because further increases in global oil prices will mean that Illinois will become a major target for fracking. Legislative measures have been taken to address the issue of fracking. Illinois state laws concerning fracking are seen as among the most progressive in the country. The state general assembly has been the most influential in passing these laws. Environmental activists have also played a major part by ensuring that the laws are strict, protect the residents both in terms of their health, and economically in terms of the resources obtained (Nowlan and Johnson, 34).
Los Angeles is one city that faced a similar problem to Chicago. In a period from the 1960s to the mid-1990s, Los Angeles was a violent crime hotspot. The riots that broke out in the early 1990s led to a transformation of the law enforcement agencies. New training regimes were introduced that allowed law enforcement agencies to be more effective. The law enforcement agencies were then equipped to deal with the crime which resulted in significant crime drops. Chicago and the state of Illinois can benefit from these experiences. A large percentage of all the crimes were also gang and drug related. California, where Los Angeles is located also faces similar problems. Legislation to control the problem has been passed including the legalization of marijuana, which is the most commonly trafficked drug in the entire country (Nowlan and Johnson, 55).
Fracking has been a divisive issue in many states across the country. There have been major issues raised, with the most common being health of people and environmental pollution. Fracking involves drilling and forcing water mixed with sand and chemicals into shale rock to ensure that oil extracted rises to the surface of the well. There are concerns over the safety of the chemicals used in the process. There might also be a chance of the chemicals used contaminating underground water reservoirs (Marcovici, 25). Another issue that has been raised is the amount of fresh water needed in the process. Once this water has been used for the fracking process, humans can no longer consume it. Despite these concerns, fracking has been given the go ahead in many states including Illinois. However, the problem in Illinois is that there have not been major investments in the oil extraction process in the state. This is because the global drop in oil prices has made the process of fracking less profitable. The Illinois government needs to entice investments in the state while at the same time ensuring the people and the environment has been protected. Most states have addressed this issue in terms of legislation with a very high level of regulation (Marcovici, 43).
Crime in the state is mostly concentrated in major cities. As with major cities, the causes are mostly common. In areas with high crime rates, there are low employment rates translating to high levels of poverty and derelict neighborhoods. Other indicators such as drug use, gang activities, and prostitution are also common. The most effective way of combating crime is to ensure that every member of society has an opportunity to make an honest living. This means that the state should ensure that they provide education facilities to all children and create enough employment opportunities. A high percentage of crimes committed in the area are also gun related. The state should ensure that there is proper gun control in the state to reduce the chances of gun related crimes occurring.
Fracking has been handled differently in different states. The best way to address this issue is to ensure proper legislation. This will ensure that the people and the environment are protected at all times. The state government should also propose incentives for investors in the industry. This will ensure that the available resources in the state are exploited for the better of the state (Nowlan and Johnson, 55). The government of Illinois is divided almost equally between the major political parties in the country. However, issues concerning the state are effectively passed by the state legislature. As seen in the above two issues, the support in the state general assembly was almost unanimous and this means that the state government is very effective in dealing with state issues (Delaney and Tim, 12).
Delaney, Tim, and Tim Madigan. Beyond Sustainability: A Thriving Environment. , 2014. Print.
Kevin Hofman. "The 25 Most Dangerous Illinois Cities in 2013." RebootIllinoiscom. 5 Dec. 2014. Web. 16 July 2015. <http://www.rebootillinois.com/2014/12/05/editors-picks/kevin-hoffmanrebootillinois-com/25-most-dangerous-illinois-cities/29973/>.
Marcovici, Michael. The Fracking Debate: What Is It Really All About ?Norderstedt: Books on Demand, 2013. Print.
Neighborhood Scout. “Crime rates for Illinois” NeighborhoodScout. Web. 16 July 2015. <http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/il/crime/>
Nowlan, James D, and J T. Johnson. Fixing Illinois: Politics and Policy in the Prairie State. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014. Internet resource.