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Articles in Geography of Crime and Punishment

Lecture Slides on Cannabis Legalization

By Martin W. Lewis | June 7, 2016 |

Dear Readers,
The slides from my final lecture of the academic year are available at the link below. The lecture examined the impending legalization of cannabis in California, as well as its status elsewhere in the world.
Cannabis Legalization
 

Mapping Crime and Substance Abuse in Russia

By Asya Pereltsvaig | January 20, 2016 | 2 Comments

In the previous post, I examined regional differences in demographic issues across Russia. As many sources note, alcoholism is one of the biggest factors contributing to low life expectancy and high rate of death from non-natural causes. In fact, Russia ranks at the top in terms of both alcohol consumption (especially by men), as discussed in detail in my earlier …

Surprising Patterns in Geography of Crime in California

By Martin W. Lewis | January 9, 2016 | 2 Comments

Mapping crime rates by county in California shows few easily explicable patterns. At first glance, the map of violent crime (which is unfortunately somewhat dated) appears almost random.

Chile: Inequality, Incarceration, and Drug Smuggling

By Martin W. Lewis | July 20, 2015 | One Comment

Chile is rightfully celebrated for the socio-economic progress that it has achieved over the past several decades. But although it has seen a substantial reduction in poverty, Chile still has a high degree of economic inequality, like most other Latin American countries. According to the Wikipedia,* in 2011 Chile ranked in the 155th position out of 176 countries in terms …

Joaquín Guzmán and the Geography of Homicide in Mexico

By Martin W. Lewis | July 13, 2015 |

Considering the astounding escape of Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán (also know as “El Chapo”) from a supposedly secure prison, this seems like an appropriate time to examine the geography of violent crime in Mexico. Comparing crime rates from place to place is a notoriously difficult exercise, as official statistics tend to be unreliable and are often gathered on a …

Unnecessary Environmental Destruction from Marijuana Cultivation in the United States

By Martin W. Lewis | October 22, 2013 | 9 Comments

Over the past several years, the campaign for marijuana legalization has surged ahead in the United States. Colorado and Washington have voted for full legalization, and a number of other states now allow the consumption of medical cannabis. Yet the U.S. federal government still regards the substance as a “Schedule 1” drug, more dangerous and less useful than cocaine or …

Tabulating the Underground Economy, and the DEA’s Pathetic Attempt to Map the Marijuana Trade

By Martin W. Lewis | October 16, 2013 | 4 Comments

When lecturing on world economic geography, I always stress the incomplete nature of the standard data, emphasizing the size of the unrecorded, underground economy, or “black market,” that constitutes up to twenty percent* of global production. Obtaining decent information on such matters is difficult, and as a result I am always on the lookout for maps, tables, and graphs that …

Misleading Murder and Rape Maps, and the Sweden Rape Puzzle

By Martin W. Lewis | May 25, 2013 | 15 Comments

The previous post on murder rates in Brazil featured a Wikipedia map of homicide rate by country, based on a 2011 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). That map, reproduced here, is less than ideal, as its highest category lumps together countries with hugely different homicide rates, ranging from 20.1 per 100,000 in Kyrgyzstan to …

Brazil’s Changing Geography of Murder

By Martin W. Lewis | May 23, 2013 | 6 Comments

Brazil is noted for its high murder rate. In the Wikipedia map posted here, Brazil falls in the highest homicide category, with more than 20 slayings a year per 100,000 people. This figure significantly exceeds that of the United States (4.8) and vastly exceeds those of such countries as Japan (0.4) and Iceland (0.3).  Yet Brazil is hardly the most …

El Monte’s “Gangnam Style” Embarrassment

By Martin W. Lewis | September 19, 2012 |

City slogans are almost always upbeat, but the positive messages that they are meant to convey are sometimes contradicted by the policies enacted by their own city governments. Such is the case in regard to the southern California town of El Monte (population 113,000), which advertises itself with the motto: “Welcome to Friendly El Monte.” Lately El Monte has been anything but friendly to its own employees. In a case that is getting international attention, the city fired 13 lifeguards and a swimming pool manager for making an innocent spoof video of the global YouTube sensation “Gangnam Style” in the municipal pool, despite the fact that they did so on their own time, using their own resources

India Fighting Bull Semen Smuggling Ring

By Martin W. Lewis | March 12, 2012 |
Ongole Bull

According to a recent article in The Hindu, The government of Andhra Pradesh in India has recently put all airports and seaports in the state on high alter, due to concerns about the smuggling of genetic material by organized crime syndicates. The material in question is “semen of the Ongole bull, acclaimed as one of the world’s best bovine [breeds] available.”

The Geography of the Death Penalty in the United States

By Martin W. Lewis | October 6, 2011 |
Map of 2000 Election, USA

 The death penalty has featured prominently in news editorials over the past several weeks. Depending on the context, assessments of the punishment vary tremendously, as seen in two recent New York Times opinion pieces. On October 5, 2011, the paper opined that an Alabama case “should leave no doubt why the death penalty should be

The Geography of Capital Punishment

By Martin W. Lewis | October 4, 2011 | 5 Comments
Wikipedia Map of Death Penalty

Capital punishment has featured prominently in the global news in recent weeks, due both to the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia and to the scheduled hanging of three men in India convicted of killing prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. One reason for this attention is the relative rarity of the death penalty. Many

Anti-Immigrant Violence and Organized Crime in Italy

By Martin W. Lewis | January 12, 2010 | One Comment

On January 10, 2009, the front page of the New York Times carried an article entitled “Race Riots Grip Italian Town and Mafia Is Suspect.” In two days of violence, 53 people were injured, including 18 members of the police, 14 local residents, and 21 immigrants. Most of the immigrants involved in the riots were

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