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Crime rates, public perceptions: a material disconnect

If you're fortunate enough to have good neighbors in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina where you reside, you likely value their opinions and turn to them for input on various matters.

And friends appreciate that trust, of course, often offering up their views on everything from politics and sports to climate change and what's needed to fix health care.

Although lots of your neighbors' beliefs are undoubtedly rock solid, not everything they impart should be uncritically accepted, obviously.

In the realm of criminal justice and law, for example, there is unquestionably one area where input should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt, i.e., subjected to some evaluation rather than simply being granted the inalterable status of truth.

According to strong research derived from two independent sources and reported in detail by respected Pew Research Center, that is this: the incorrect assumptions concerning the occurrence of crime across the country that are held by legions of Americans.

Pew Research notes this stark dichotomy: Whereas a majority of Americans have cited a belief in recent years that the national crime level is problematic and going up, empirical evidence shows the opposite to actually be true.

"Violent crime in the U.S. has fallen sharply over the past quarter century," states the think tank, with the same being true for property-linked crimes.

And that conclusion rests on data provided by both the FBI and via a prominent government survey that solicits the views of Americans concerning their personal experiences.

Is such a disconnect concerning?

Arguably, it is, chiefly from the standpoint that largely groundless public fears can fuel -- and have often driven -- aggressive investigations and prosecutions into alleged criminal activity that is not as serious or pervasive as is routinely claimed to be the case.

As a result of that reality, many prisoners -- both in North Carolina and nationally -- presently sit behind bars following sentencing outcomes that only be described as draconian. The strong and bipartisan calls for sentencing reform that are currently being heard across the country are clearly in response to what is perceived as a necessary correction of current policies.

One thing is certain, namely this: Any individual who is in the crosshairs of criminal law investigators and enforcers has a strong and immediate need for the candid guidance and aggressive legal representation of a proven criminal defense attorney.

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