It's about time someone exploded the crime statistics myth as Katherine Dunn did in "Crime and Embellishment" (April 10).
During my tenure as a staff member of the Criminal Justice Committee in the state Assembly during the early '80s, politicians were also attempting to inflate crime numbers for partisan advantage. This was in the face of experts testifying that the only reliable crime statistic was the homicide rate--because you could actually count the bodies. The fact is that the reporting system for these statistics is so flaky that any group can "prove" just about any point that serves its interests.
ROSS S. CLARK
Dunn is trying to open our eyes to something we just don't want to see. Tell your representatives in Congress that you want a study done on Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders' bold yet practical suggestion that drugs be legalized as a first step in regaining safety in our communities. Pull the plug on the profits, and you will see the scum who allow innocent people's blood to be spilled in the name of greed go down the drain.
G. FRED LOGAN
In a society where many are crying "Wolf!" Dunn's piece was a calming influence. Crime is not mounting; we Angelenos are not under a state of siege. Los Angeles is truly one of the best cities in the world.
YONI J. STONE
Thank you for printing "Crime and Embellishment." It's time that the voice of reason was heard on this subject.
I have lived in Koreatown for 10 years now, and 20 years before that in Manhattan, on the Upper West Side, which Time magazine once described as a "high-crime interracial neighborhood," and I never had reason to think my neighbors were dangerous. On the contrary, I, like Dunn, am amazed that the majority of Americans, in spite of their crowded, frustrating city lives, do not kill each other.
I remember a professor in college who reminded us that "crime statistics" always go up at budget time, and Dunn's research supports that. Fear of each other is an easy way for government to make spies of us all.
MARIAN C. DUFFETT
Dunn's article makes one wonder what never-never land she inhabits.
Surely it's not the world where drugs are pushed openly in schoolyards and on residential streets. Surely it's not where cars are stolen and homes burglarized.
The world my friends and I live in is a place where one does not venture out after dark and where one learns to be wary of strangers.
I, too, have learned that "statistics" lend themselves to be bent to meet one's need.
IRENE C. OSBURN
Even one person victimized by a crime in this city is one person too many for humanity to acquiesce to.
I have worked in the field of adolescent care for the past 25 years. When I first started, kids who came to placement facilities were sent because they took hubcaps and the occasional car. Let me now describe the kind of student that we deal with today. They have been abandoned, abused and sexually molested. Unlike the children of decades ago, they do not fight with their fists. They fight with automatic weapons.
I do not believe the research done by Victor E. Kappeler, Gary W. Potter and Mark Blumberg for "The Mythology of Crime and Criminal Justice" that was cited in Dunn's piece. I believe what I see. What I see are more and more angry, sociopathic kids who will do anything. The research may show that there is no formidable increase in violent crime, but does it take into account the random nature of these acts?