Crime before and after Statehood

NationMaster shares statistics on the crime rate in Puerto Rico compared with the rate in the 50 states. The actual crime rate, they found, is 47% higher in Puerto Rico than in the States. The rate of murders per million people was six times higher in Puerto Rico than in the states.

There are some specific issues for Puerto Rico when it comes to crime. As U.S. law enforcement works to tighten the southern border, drug cartels have shifted their routes through Puerto Rico. Only 40% of the population was employed or looking for work before Hurricane Maria hit, and poverty is high. These factors add to the crime rate in Puerto Rico.

But territories have always had higher crime rates than states.

The year before California became a state, they averaged two murders a day in San Fransisco, and the town of Marysville had 17 murders in one week. Arkansas Territory was known for “Arkansas toothpicks,” the Bowie knives men carried as part of their daily routine, and for “Hell on the Border” — the courtroom and jail in Ft. Smith where 88 outlaws were hanged by one judge. Kansas Territory was called “Bleeding Kansas” for the politically-inspired skirmishes that characterized the territory in the run-up to the Civil War.

Compared with any of these Wild West territories, Puerto Rico’s crime rate is mild.

Puerto Rico is ready for statehood.

The territories that joined the Union in the 19th century were not incorporated into the national economy. Most were working toward statehood not only in the sense of convincing Congress to agree, but also in the sense of building a large enough population and a sufficiently organized society.

Puerto Rico has over three million residents and is already well integrated into the United States. Trade between Puerto Rico and the 50 states is brisk. Puerto Rico votes in presidential primaries, though it can’t vote in presidential elections. Puerto Rico is well represented in the U.S. military, U.S. sports teams, and the federal government — though many of these representatives choose to live in a state rather than on the Island. Puerto Rico’s local government is well organized and the Puerto Rico Constitution was approved by the U.S. Congress more than half a century ago.

Many former territories chose statehood in part to end violence and lawlessness in their cities. Puerto Rico doesn’t face the kind of frontier violence those territories suffered from. But history shows that crime is reduced in states, compared with territories. This is just one more benefit of statehood.

Join us. There is no going back. Let’s go forward to statehood together.

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