Let’s Talk About Crime Rates

I don’t watch much television, and when I do watch, it’s generally via streaming, so I’ve been spared a lot of the mindless political ads that are driving everyone nuts as the midterms approach.

However, I do watch the news on “live” TV, and I have been utterly appalled by a couple of ads slamming our incumbent Prosecutor (who was depicted, in time-honored “dirty politics” fashion, in a dark, grainy and menacing photo that barely resembled him.)

The ads I saw blamed the prosecutor for the fact that one murderer possessed a gun, and another for the fact that a “bad guy” was on the street (presumably after serving the term for which he’d been imprisoned.)

The angry voice-overs didn’t blame–or even mention– Indiana’s idiot legislators, who specify the punishments available to prosecutors and have worked assiduously to ensure that every Hoosier malcontent will have immediate access to lethal firepower. And it didn’t blame police for failing to intervene before the fatal incidents (perhaps using ESP, a la “Minority Report”?).

Nope. All the prosecutor’s fault.

Evidently, the Republican challenger running for the office–whose lack of any criminal justice experience is abundantly clear–wants voters to believe that an elected prosecutor should be spending staff time and resources bringing long-shot lawsuits against the thousands of unhinged people who own guns in Indianapolis.

(By the way, I can just hear those “Second Amendment” purists if a Prosecutor did try to use Indiana’s unwieldy version of a “red flag” statute to confiscate some of that firepower. )

I assume the local Republican candidate’s effort to frighten citizens–“you are in danger because your prosecutor isn’t trying to confiscate weapons from suspicious scary people!!”–is part of the GOP’s nationwide effort to focus on crime and blame that crime on Democratic officeholders. I’m told that Fox “News” runs grainy “look at how dangerous big cities are” footage 24/7.

I would say that coverage is misleading, but it’s actually a lot worse than misleading, because it is based on an outright lie about where crime rates are high and where they aren’t.

According to national figures, these are the ten states where crime rates are worst:

New Mexico – 6,462.03 per 100,000 people
Louisiana – 6,408.22 per 100,000 people
Colorado – 6,090.76 per 100,000 people
South Carolina – 5,972.84 per 100,000 people
Arkansas – 5,898.75 per 100,000 people
Oklahoma – 5,869.82 per 100,000 people
Washington – 5,758.57 per 100,000 people
Tennessee – 5,658.30 per 100,000 people
Oregon – 5,609.89 per 100,000 people
Missouri – 5,604.78 per 100,000 people

Perhaps you noticed something about that list: it’s mostly Red States. (The four states with the lowest crime rates are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New Jersey.) 

Chris Hayes recently addressed the GOP’s dishonest framing of crime, and where that crime occurs, with a really brilliant parody of a Fox “ad”–using the deep-red state of Oklahoma, where Republicans rule and the two largest cities have Republican mayors, as his focus. I encourage you to click through and watch it, but if you don’t have time, I’ll give you the punch line: Oklahoma has a much higher crime rate than either California or New York.

As Hayes quite properly noted, the cities and states in Red America–where crime rates are higher than in our much-maligned Blue cities–haven’t been “defunding” the police, or releasing convicted felons, or doing any of the other nefarious, pro-crime things that–according to Fox  and dishonest political ads– are causing crime to spike. 

Which brings me back to the Indianapolis Prosecutor’s race and my consistent pre-occupation with civic literacy. The person who created that deeply stupid ad clearly assumes that no one watching it has a clue what the actual job description of a Prosecutor is,  what the proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion looks like– or how much of a county prosecutor’s job depends on competent policing and the workability of laws passed by legislators.  

There are all kinds of criticisms that can be fairly leveled at county prosecutors: the merits of the plea bargains they negotiate, the deployment of their necessarily limited resources, the professionalism of the staff, the obvious ambitions of the incumbent…(in the past, Indianapolis has had some real “hot dogs” in that office, spending most of their time in political pandering and running to the media to spin every court decision. Like Todd Rokita at the state level.)

In my humble opinion, the incumbent Marion County Prosecutor–Ryan Mears–is a very good lawyer and a quality person who has been doing an excellent job. He has been very transparent about his priorities (which don’t include focusing on low-level marijuana use or violations of Indiana’s new, draconian abortion ban), and I thoroughly agree with those priorities. Others are free to disagree, and that sort of disagreement is entirely legitimate.

Judging by the ads being run by his challenger, I guess legitimate criticisms weren’t available.


  1. Propagandized political commercials have never been honest or truthful! Historically, propagandized advertisements are used to demonize particular peoples as a reason to subjugate or eliminate basic civil or human rights.

    Dishonesty in today’s immense advertising stream is the rule, the exceptions are few and far between. If one bases their opinion on spoonfed manure, well, garbage in, garbage out! There is very little personal effort to research and verify anything that one formulates an opinion on. And it’s not just politics, nor is it just religion, it’s everything!

    The citizenry of society are just commodities to be used, abused, emptied and drained, and tossed in the trash bin they’ve served their purpose!

    Those who claim to know better unfortunately are purveyors of the same type of ignorance in their own right.

    The pot looks at the kettle seeing the black soot and the grease caked thickly like concrete, and the pot accuses disgustingly how filthy and black it is. But the pot refuses to look in the mirror to be self-critical about its own level of disheveled grime which is just as thick and black as the kettle’s.

  2. The negative ads in my Indiana district have all come from Americans for Prosperity Indiana, which states in the fine print that they aren’t affiliated with any candidate. This provides deniability for the GOP candidates, but they welcome the dollars spent and their effectiveness on what Sheila writes is “uninformed voters.”

    Sadly, both parties are equipped with “low information voters.” This allows them to become easy prey for negative ads regarding: crime, inflation, immigration, etc.

    Who funds Americans for Prosperity?

    Charles Koch.


    He doesn’t live in Indiana but controls our politics and impacts every Republican voter and, thus, our laws in Indianapolis. Until this is confronted, nothing will change.

    And Charles was responsible for the 1/6 Insurrection and has not received a subpoena from the predominately Democratic commission. The Democratic Party plays the same game.

    Until we take down the oligarchs – nothing will change.

  3. Colorado tends to be a blue state, but the major population centers are overwhelmed with drug trafficking and auto/catalystic converter thefts. We are also on the major N-S corridor between Mexico and Canada. Denver is, by far, the largest metro area in the Rocky Mountain time zone. BUT, the state is polarized too. Denver itself is 80% Democrat. But Lauren Boebert’s district includes a large swath of the western slope and the city of Pueblo – which votes Democrat. Rural Colorado is ruby red. Colorado Springs, just 70 miles south of Denver is like another world and a bastion for Christian fundamentalists.

    But to your point about crime: More guns = more gun deaths. More poverty = more crime overall. More poverty also = more drug use/crime. More hopelessness and poor education = all of the above. So, it’s more complicated than just red or blue. Oh, and since Biden was elected, violent crime has DECREASED everywhere. Imagine that.

  4. As long as we are on the subject of political ads how about a closer look at the one being run by Victoria Spartz. Therein she claims to have been born and raised in “socialist Ukraine”.
    Ukraine became a member of the Soviet Union in 1922 and did not leave it until 1991. The country was COMMUNIST…not socialist, a distinction no Republican is able to make since so much of their economic positions are against any government spending that helps the people.
    So the Congressional candidate from Hamilton County, born in 1978, was raised and got an primary education via communism. My how the world has changed. Arch conservative Republican Hamilton County has a communist raised woman representing them in Congress.

  5. You should see the ad that Little Marco is running against Val, the socialist, Demings. It turns my stomach, but Little Marco is proud to say he approves the message. BTW, Little Marco is so anti-socialism that he didn’t even show up in the Senate for the vote on aid for Ian victims.

  6. Paid political advertising is antithetical to democracy. There are two ways to address that if we want to claim and benefit from democracy which is after all the only system we know about with some guarantee of rights.

    One is to address its financing. The easiest to enforce way to do that is to make all private financing illegal and fund it exclusively with public money. A harder to enforce way is to limit it to a very small amount. Say a few dollars for every individual and corporation.

    Two is to regulate its form. Say one or two public, moderated, fact-checked debates per office.

    And of course, there are both of those approaches together.

  7. I can believe that anybody that decides who to vote for based on a TV political AD, a third party tweet, or a Facebook meme is an idiot. But I am also sorry to say that is takes an effort in this day and age to figure out what platform or policies a candidate really stands for. On top of that, candidate websites are so carefully scrubbed of anything thing that might off-put voters, that a staunchly anti-abortion candidate might only mention “they are pro-family”.

    There are a lot terrific democratic candidates on the ticket this year, and a lot of pretty radical Republicans.

    I saw a story this morning that the Republican Secretary of State, in 2018 either committed voter fraud, or tax fraud when he voted in one county, but his homestead exemption said he was living in another county. This is the same guy that got fired from the SOS office and then quit once from the SOS office to keep from being fired. He is also an MAGA Trump election denier on top of that and this is the guy that is supposed to be in charge of Indiana elections.

  8. Pete, I like you idea. Citizens United combined with Social Media has been terrible for democracy in the US.

  9. I am so tired of this “both sides are doing it” nonsense. There is only one party spreading lies and trying to steal elections, and it isn’t the Democratic party!

  10. Black on Black crime is significant in urban areas, mostly ruled by DEMs. GOP state legislatures, make sure to “defund” cities trying to improve policing. So DEMs get blame…and fewer Black/Latino votes – neat, eh?

  11. Peggy, I looked up the fact checking on whether Marco Rubio voted failed to show up to vote for relief for Hurricane Ian victims. Newsweek says it’s not true. Newsweek says he failed to vote on a general bill detailing how national disaster aid would be paid out. But Newsweek also said an explanation on that bill is needed…basically that it had to do with technicalities of funding, and certainly nothing to do with Hurricane Ian specifically.

  12. Nita – thank you – well said.

    Theresa – You have to understand, the GOP has trademarked those words and they mean whatever the GOP wants them to mean – Communist is so passe, but Socialist is a time honored epithet to label anyone to the left of Genghis Khan. Of course Spartz didn’t use that word to describe where she grew up last time, because she had to hurl that term at her Democratic opponent (we all know that Kiwanis is a hot bed of “radical socialists”). The interesting thing is that Spartz REALLY supports aid to Ukraine. How will she vote if her GOP buddies take over the House and want to end that aid?

    Sheila – I don’t think political ads have changed much during my lifetime, especially many of the GOP ads. I sometimes think that I could write them, but so could a computer program.

    Choose among:
    The cities are burning and it is unsafe to leave your house.
    The radical liberals™ are hampering policing and letting criminals out of jail.

    I, the GOP candidate, am TOUGH.
    I, the GOP candidate, am a business owner.
    I, the GOP candidate, am a parent.
    I, the GOP candidate, am endorsed by the police.

    More nationally, these may be added:
    The deficit is raging out of control due to the failed policies™ of the Democrats.
    Inflation is out of control due to the failed policies™ of the Democrats.

    And more recently – that Democrat “contributed to President Biden”.

    Democrats haven’t creatively used fear since the anti-Goldwater “daisy ad”.
    I wish they’d talk about the Republican plans to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, as well as creating a national abortion ban. Real scare ad potential there.
    Sadly, voting to allow the gerrymandered state legislatures to determine the winners of elections is too abstract to instill fear.

  13. Lies?! You think you see lies?! Come to Florida, and see some of DeSantis’ garbage!!
    But, seriously politicians in the U.S.lying goes back into at least the early 1800’s.
    The problem, now, is that the garbage gets such wide (smelly) dispersal.

  14. Rubio has an ad that declares that “radical Democrats” are trying to change “little boys into little girls”. Really! I don’t know whether to be appalled at the distortion of reality, the transphobia or the misogyny. That so many older people in Florida buy into this garbage is even more puzzling when you consider they are the generation of Vietnam protests and Woodstock. I got mine, screw you?

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