"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

More disconnects

Just reflect for a moment on the disconnect here, and why it occurs, and what it may mean in areas aside from law and order.

From a report on a new Portland State University study:

The rate of crime in Oregon is the lowest it’s been since the 1960s. Yet more than half the Oregonians surveyed in a recent Portland State University (PSU) research project believe that crime in the state has actually gone up.

The findings were compiled by PSU’s Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute. They’re based on a survey conducted last summer of 1,569 Oregonians over the age of 18.

The survey results showed that 52 percent believed crime in the state increased over the last year, and only 10 percent thought it went down.

Those who thought crime rates were higher tended to be more conservative, had a dissatisfaction with the criminal justice system, had family incomes less than $50,000 a year, had less education than a Bachelors degree, and tended to rank “punishment or enforcement” as top crime control strategies.

The study was not able to pinpoint the exact reasons for the disconnect between perception and reality, but the report’s author, Brian Renauer, a PSU associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, said one possible explanation may be that the media – everything from the nightly news to crime dramas – feed the perception of high crime rates.

The report concludes that misperceptions impact trust in public officials, compliance with legal authority, and support for criminal justice legislation.

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