Society and Culture
The Crime Blog Really Makes You Think
It’s been a busy few weeks here at Law Street Media as we launched our crime rankings last week and are continuing our efforts to provide content that is both useful and interesting. I now have the opportunity to casually peruse the section like any other reader, and I’ve been checking it out a lot recently.
Law Street’s Crime in America presents statistics gathered from around the country, including the safest places to live, using data gathered by the FBI.
Reading up on all of this crime has forced me to think about its prevalence, the unnecessary danger of certain areas, and what it says about our society. In recent years, there has been much coverage of the huge disparity in prosperity between segments of the population, with the Occupy Wall Street movement providing a notorious example. When I say “forced me to think about,” I mean I’m reflecting on the overabundance of first world problems I have, and how little they matter in a world full of very real conflicts.
I could complain for hours about how tough it is to be six months out of law school, but I have it easy compared to many: I have a job(s) and live in a major city with tons of personal and professional opportunities. There are many people who are still searching for work, and under much more dire circumstances.
In addition, reading Crime in America serves as a reminder that there are people who are under such hardship that they view crime as the only way out of their current situations. Every time I complained to someone about law school, I often got “there are thousands of people who would kill to be able to go to law school” in response. After an exaggerated eye roll, I would steadfastly refuse to believe this statement was fact. Then I read Crime in America, which begs the question: “Why else are people committing violent crimes?” If you read about America’s ten most dangerous cities, then you’ll see that people are facing severe unemployment and increasing poverty. There is a strong correlation between financial uncertainty and criminal activity.
When I say severe unemployment, I’m not talking about being unable to find a job in a struggling legal economy. These people can’t get jobs in any economy, for a variety of reasons. All of the possible reasons lead them to believe that all hope is lost, and hopelessness can lead to criminal levels of desperation.
Many people think being a lawyer is the key to some degree of success, and to an extent they are correct. That success isn’t necessarily in the juris doctorate degree, but in the education that the degree represents. You learn unparalleled skills of analysis, critical thinking, writing, interpretation, oral advocacy, and time management. You spend three years having your brain broken down and reassembled like some modern-day Frankenstein. It’s a daunting experience, but you emerge ready to face the world with conversational legalese and a leather briefcase.
There are literally thousands of people who cannot even imagine what it’s like to earn a bachelor’s degree, let alone a J.D. There are people who, in America in 2013, do not even have the option of finishing high school. These people are neither lazy nor stupid. Instead, they haven’t been given the tools necessary for educational advancement. I would go so far as to guess that they have never been presented with the idea of academic success as a realistic option. It’s hard to want more from life if you have never experienced what “more” could be.
Law Street’s Crime in America puts problems into perspective, and beyond that it’s just interesting. So go read it! I’ll still complain about law school, but, you know…less.
Featured image courtesy of [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Department of Homeland Security) via Wikipedia]
Peter Davidson is a recent graduate of law school who rants about news & politics and raves over the ups & downs of FUNemployment in the current legal economy.