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.
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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.