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LSU professors speak about crime culture in Baton Rouge

While the criminal process focuses on charges, evidence, guilt and innocence, the reality behind crime is multifaceted and complex. Crime never occurs in a vacuum, and researchers can point to various factors that make for a favorable environment for crime.

In Baton Rouge, the pervasive crime culture has been studied by Matthew Lee and Ed Shihadeh, two Louisiana State University professors, for years. They say that lack of social anchors, lower education, lack of jobs, poverty, and blight tend to increase the incidence of criminal activity. Another contributing factor is the structure of the drug market.

The drug market is lucrative and tends to establish competition between competing drug operations. Because the market is illegal, participants tend to handle matters through violence rather than through law enforcement.

So far this year, there have been around 50 murders in the city of Baton Rouge. According to LSU Professor of Sociology Ed Shihadeh, that could rise as high as 80 or 90.

Dealing with the problem, most agree, will take more than police work and hard-nosed prosecution, in part because of the pervasive distrust of police officers in crime-filled areas. Working with local communities to reduce the risk of crime on multiple levels is important in fighting this battle.

From a defense perspective, it is important to realize that each and every criminal defendant has a personal story that is greater than the charges they face. The charges they face may, in fact, not even be accurate or fair, let alone represent who they are as a person. Keeping this in mind, defense attorneys work to ensure that each and every defendant's rights are protected and that their case has the best possible outcome.

Source: Fox 44, "LSU Professors talk reasons behind crime culture in Baton Rouge," Jris Cusanza, August 8, 2012

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