Jackson among most dangerous cities in U.S.

Published 3:50 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The capital city has had a dramatic one-year jump in crime placing it among the most dangerous in the country, according to information from the FBI’s preliminary Uniform Crime Report for 2006.

The report showed Jackson had a 42 percent increase in violent crime and a 10 percent increase in property crime. An analysis of that data by The Clarion-Ledger newspaper showed Jackson was among the top 10 cities in the nation in rape and burglary, top 20 in robbery and total property crime, and top 25 percent in murder, total violent crime and auto theft.

The jump in crime has moved the city into the upper echelon of cities with serious crime problems.

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The FBI report analyzed 254 cities, representing every state, with populations ranging from 100,000 to more than 8 million.

Robberies in Jackson jumped 67 percent in 2006, the largest increase for the city in any crime category. Last year, there were nearly three robberies a day.

Jackson had more than 21 robberies per 1,000 residents, placing it 20th among cities in the FBI report and ahead of Chicago and Dallas. The city’s robbery rate is more than twice the national average.

Jackson ranked 24th in the nation in homicides per capita in 2006. It tied with Atlanta and Orlando, Fla. for the position.

Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart said numbers have gotten better in recent years. Three years ago, the city had 53 homicides, she said.

“I’m seeing a decline,” she said. “That’s pleasing me.”

Grisham-Stewart said she isn’t seeing a particular trend in the city’s homicides except the relationship between the victim and the assailant.

“The majority of the victims, they know their attacker,” she said. “It’s not just random acts of violence. It’s somebody they know.”

The overall crime increase “doesn’t bode well” for the city, said Mark McCreery, chairman of local crime watchdog group SafeCity.

McCreery attributes part of the blame to the backlog of cases in Hinds County Circuit Court. The court has about 4,000 active cases and disposed of about 1,500 last year, according to SafeCity research.

“At that rate, if we didn’t have a single (new case) for two and a half years, we’d get caught up,” McCreery said.

McCreery expects some progress on the backlog with the addition of a new assistant district attorney. This year the Mississippi Legislature approved the new position for the budget year that starts July 1.