Op-Ed

POLITICALLY, CRIME DOESN'T PAY

This editorial appeared in The Boston Globe.

If the presidential campaign debate were a reliable gauge of the nation's problems, the country would be practically free of crime. Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain is paying sufficient attention to criminal justice.

In some ways, the issue may seem like a throwback to 1992, when murder rates were spiking nationwide. Yet it is worth recalling New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's warning just last year that Americans have a much greater chance of being killed by crime than by a terror strike.

Despite an overall drop in crime rates over the past decade, fear of crime remains a daily concern for residents in many American cities. The candidates are giving short shrift to the issue by succumbing to their own fear of talking about crime.

And Americans of all races are still waiting for a healthy debate on why black people are imprisoned at five times the rate of white people. Is it the breakdown of families, the failure of social and economic interventions or racial bias on the part of police or prosecutors?

This subject deserves at least as much attention from the candidates as they give to "diplomacy without preconditions."

The candidates seem only too happy to duck discussions about crime. Neither, therefore, deserves commendation as an especially effective crime-fighter.

  Comments