Crime costs both victims and society a great deal. But the cost is much more than we realize. Professor Walter Williams documents the “Unappreciated Crime Costs” that especially hit black residents in low-income neighborhoods.
Thousands of black Americans are murdered each year in cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, St. Louis and Philadelphia. He documents that over 90 percent of the time the perpetrator was also black.
Crime also imposes a hefty tax on people in these neighborhoods, who can least afford it. Residents must bear the time cost and other costs of having to shop outside their neighborhoods. There are few supermarkets in high-crime, low-income neighborhoods that are often referred to as “food deserts.”
Delivery companies (like FedEx and UPS) routinely leave packages on the doorsteps of homes in low-crime neighborhoods. They wouldn’t dare do that in these high-crime neighborhoods. Taxi drivers, fearing robberies in these dangerous neighborhoods, often refuse to accept telephone calls for home pickups.
You might wonder why black people in these areas often fail to report crime to law enforcement. First, many of them have a deep mistrust of police. Second, there is also the real fear of reprisals by black criminals. He calls it the “stop snitching” principle. Reporting a crime or criminal can have serious repercussions. Criminals often have little fear of being brought to justice. He reports that less than 1 percent of murderers are ever charged.
Walter Williams concludes that many of the problems in the black community in previous decades were due to racial discrimination. He concludes that the problems today are due to “high illegitimacy, family breakdown, and unsafe communities.” That’s why I believe the best solutions must come from churches and faith-based organizations.