Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Exporting Crime

Minneapolis has seen an influx of criminals from cities such as Detroit, Gary, Kansas City, and Chicago. The "word on the street" has been that these hardened thugs with gang ties find it easier and more lucrative to do business in the Twin Cities than in the cities from which they came.

While I can offer no proof, empirical observation suggests that Minnesota's generous welfare benefits, social programs, and lenient court system all contribute to the problem.

Gangsters arrive and try to establish themselves in certain parts of the city. Rival gangsters do the same, and the inevitable conflict and struggle for territory results. Violence increases, murders go up, and the streets are not safe for anyone who gets in their way. The new breed of criminals fear nothing and no one, not even the police.

Good people of the Twin Cities and Minnesota at large suffer as a result.

So what happens when the criminal element is not drawn to a metropolitan area, but pushed? The results are virtually the same, as Houston, TX has discovered: "Katrina Victims Blamed for Houston Crime".

HOUSTON (AP) - A letter to inmate No. 1352951 and a cell phone bill for $76.63, both found in a soggy New Orleans duplex ruined by Hurricane Katrina, led Louisiana bounty hunter James Martin to Texas. Again.

It marked the seventh time since Katrina that Martin, whose pursuit of bail jumpers often begins with clues salvaged from abandoned New Orleans homes, has followed a trail to Texas.

"I don't think Texas really knows what they got," Martin said.

Katrina sent a lot of bad guys to Texas, as Houston is finding out.
The fallout from this export of criminals is staggering:

Houston took in 150,000 evacuees - the most of any U.S. city - after Katrina struck on Aug. 29. Houston police believe the evacuees are partly responsible for a nearly 17.5 percent increase in homicides so far this year over the same period in 2005.

About 21 percent of Houston's 232 homicides through July 25 involved an evacuee as either a suspect or a victim, according to police, who attribute much of the bloodshed to fighting among rival New Orleans gang members.
While Houston's problems are much larger in scale, the fundamental cause and effect is the same. The key word is "opportunity".

"I think some saw (Katrina) as an opportunity," Martin's bounty-hunting partner, Michael Wright, said of evacuees who fled New Orleans with criminal records. "No one knows who they are over here."
And New Orleans pre-Katrina sounds a lot like present day Minneapolis:

Evacuee Vincent Wilson, a leader of the Katrina Survivors Association, was impressed. He said that in New Orleans before Katrina, "everyone knows that if the jail's crowded you get a slap on the hand and get released."

Eckels predicted the county's worst guests will go home once their federal assistance dries up. And if many choose to stick around, the county will be ready: "We don't put up with it here. If you break the law, you're going to be prosecuted."
The difference is in Minnesota the assistance never dries up, and we do put up with it here.