Crime is Rampant

Dec. 21, 2004
Including at your company.

One out of every 250 Americans one is in jail. More than 1 million were incarcerated in 1996--tripling the number who were convicted and sent to the pokey in 1980. It is no surprise, then, that more than three-fourths of all U.S. prison space was built in the last 10 years. Building prisons and government offices to house criminals continues to be one of America's fastest growing industries because we are in the midst of a crime epidemic. Consider: The 1997 edition of The Practical Guide to Practically Everything (1996, Random House) lists the 30 fastest-growing professions as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It ranks them by percentage increase of their need between the years 1994 and 2005. Correctional officers rank 13th on the list with 310,000 employed as of 1994 and an additional 51%, or 158,000 needed by the year 2005. Just two notches below, in the number 15 spot, is guards. In 1994, there were 867,000 guards. It is estimated that we will need another 415,000 by 2005, an increase of 48%. Paralegals are listed in 10th place. In 1994, they numbered 111,000. We will need 58% more of them, or 64,000. According to Russell Ash, editor of The Top 10 of Everything 1997 (1996, DK Publishing): The 20th century is ". . . a lawless century in which property theft and drug-related crime have become commonplace, and every advance made by the police has seemingly been matched by the increasing ruthlessness and sophistication of criminals. "Murder numbers, especially those perpetrated with firearms, have risen inexorably (although when population sizes are taken into account, the current rate for the United States is no worse than in the 1930s), while the horrific murders by serial killers are now at such a level that the murderer of 50 people does not even qualify for a place in the world 'Top 10.'" Nor does murder itself. Ash lists larceny as the most common crime: 1,514,500 arrests. Driving under the influence is next: 1,384,600 arrests. Third: drug-abuse violations with 1,351,400 arrests. Many modern crimes are drug-related. Many are the result of greed. But the less apparent crimes that are growing just as rapidly are the white-collar variety committed by people who work in our companies and live in our neighborhoods. No company is immune from this crime wave. If the trend continues, we won't have any place to put the criminals. Our jails and government offices are already full. Typical crimes you should guard against: Product tampering, such as the syringes allegedly found in cans of Pepsi. Death or injury to customers, such as was caused recently by contaminated beef. Misrepresentation of product capabilities. Racial discrimination. Terrorism (think World Trade Center). Embezzlement of company funds. Misappropriation of retirement funds. Shoot-outs by disgruntled employees. And drinking and drug abuse among employees. Crime can threaten the existence of any organization. It's not a question if or whether a crime will be committed in your company; it's only a matter of how soon, what kind, and whether the perpetrator will be an insider or an outsider.

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