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Are Americans increasingly taking the law into their own hands?

1-10-2014 National:

WASHINGTON, January 8, 2014 — Instances of citizen vigilantism – citizens exercising law enforcement practices without legal authority – have been showing up in the media more frequently. Apparently a growing number of American citizens feel as if their law enforcement officials are not doing enough to prevent crime and do not want to solely rely on the government for their personal security.

While violent crime in the U.S. is on the rise again for the first time after 2006 – 1.2 percent increase compared to 2012 after years of steep declines – law enforcement authorities face depleted resources due to severe budget cuts stemming from the recession, particularly in large urban areas. The reported rise in crime could be related at least in part to the growing phenomenon of citizens taking the law into their own hands.

In August, a Detroit man who had been accused of raping a 15 year-old girl with Down’s syndrome was repeatedly beaten by a group of people who spotted him on the street. The man was hospitalized for several hours and then went into hiding.

The parents of the girl and other residents of the neighborhood had grown increasingly impatient with the police’s slow investigation of the girl’s assault. The rape kit (physical evidence tested for sexual assault) that had been ordered after the alleged crime took 19 days after the report to get to a Michigan State Police lab.

While the police were still investigating, the name and address of the suspect spread through e-mail chains and flyers, which ultimately led to the violent attack. The community is now torn over the entire incident, with some people horrified by the brutal vigilantism but ..Continued.. by Drew Hendricks

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