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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Growing crime stifles other kinds of growth (Examiner Editorial)

(Posted November 30, 2005)
"Examiner Editorial - Growing crime stifles other kinds of growth"
Examiner, November 30, 2005 (Editorial)
Cynics are already referring to "Gory Prince George's," a parody of the "Gorgeous Prince George's" slogan used by the county's Economic Development Corporation to attract new businesses to the close-in Washington suburb. But with homicides now at a record high, the new nickname fits uncomfortably well.

County Executive Jack Johnson, a former state's attorney who promised to get tough on crime three years ago, claims that a spasm of violence during the first four months of the year is largely to blame for the grim statistic, and notes the murder rate has since leveled off. Fair enough, but 2005 will still go down as Prince George's bloodiest year ever, and there's just no way to spin it any other way.
[. . .]
Despite recovering 1,200 firearms, many of them high-caliber weapons, and $27 million worth of illegal drugs that were apparently not grown or manufactured here, neither Johnson nor police Chief Melvin High have publicly acknowledged that a violent drug war reminiscent of the early '90s is apparently being fought on the county's suburban streets. Some perpetrators are in this country illegally - others belong to street gangs busy carving out their turf.
[. . .]
In August, an exclusive Examiner series documented the county's low conviction rate.

Although two-thirds of all homicide suspects had prior arrest records, charges against them were dropped 66 percent of the time, often because frightened witnesses refused to testify against them. Only 12 percent were eventually convicted, but even they typically spent as little as five years in jail before being released back into the community. [Emphasis added]

No county can hope to beat back a rising rate of violent crime by putting up numbers like that.
[. . .]
That's too bad because Prince George's, the wealthiest minority/majority county in the nation, has a lot going for it, including an ideal location right next to Washington on the Potomac River, the second-highest population in the state, more adults with college and graduate degrees than either neighboring Anne Arundel or Howard counties, and plenty of room for residential and commercial growth.

But a substandard school system that's still being micromanaged at the state level and too many violent predators are keeping the county from reaching its truly gorgeous potential. That's another crime being perpetrated against county residents, who are too often literally robbed of their future as well.

[Full editorial]

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