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Über dieses Buch

This book addresses the causes of rising crime rates resulting from the rapid population growth and industrialization associated with natural resource extraction in rural communities. Ruddell describes the social problems emerging in these boomtowns, including increases in antisocial behavior, as well as property-related and violent crime, industrial mishaps and traffic collisions. Many of the victims of these crimes are already members of vulnerable or marginalized groups, including rural women, Indigenous populations, and young people. The quality of life in boomtowns also decreases due to environmental impacts, including air, water and noise pollution. Law enforcement agencies, courts, and correction facilities in boomtowns are often overwhelmed by the growing demand as these places are seldom able to manage the population growth. The key questions addressed here are: who should pay the costs of managing these booms, and how can we prepare communities to mitigate the worst effects of this growth and development and, ultimately, increase the quality of life for boomtown residents. An in-depth and timely study, this original work will be of great interest to scholars of violent crime, criminal justice, and corporate harm.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Introduction: Boomtown Effects

Abstract
The crime and disorder occurring in North American resource-based boomtowns has captured the public’s interest since the 1849 California gold rush. The rapid growth of communities that emerged in rural areas across the globe since the oil and gas boom started after 2000 has also drawn considerable media interest, especially in terms of the disorder that occurs in some of these places, which has been described by boomtown residents as a “human tornado.” This chapter introduces the book, and briefly describes boomtown effects, which are the social ills that accompany a boom, from an increase in sexually transmitted infections to crime. While conditions in the oil patch or mines are safer and more worker-friendly today, the social ills occurring in some boomtowns are very similar to their historical counterparts as newcomers travel from around the nation to grab their share of the American dream.
Rick Ruddell

2. Defining the Boom

Abstract
Long commutes to work, road trips, Sunday drives, and suburban living are part of a lifestyle based on cheap and plentiful fuel. The public generally does not spend much time thinking, however, where our fuel comes from, the impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) activities on rural areas, or the risks to workers carrying out this dirty and dangerous work in harsh environmental conditions. This chapter defines boomtowns and describes different forms of these rapid growth communities, provides a short history of resource-based booms, and offers a profile of these booms. The issues of costs and benefits of a boom are addressed, and there is an explanation of why today’s boomtowns differ from their historical counterparts. Better understanding the dynamics of a boom is an important first step in developing strategies to reduce the worst of the boomtown effects.
Rick Ruddell

3. The Boom–Crime Relationship

Abstract
This chapter questions whether media accounts of crime and disorder in boomtowns and their focus on drugs, sex, and violence are accurate. A common theme in these reports is that US oil fields have become a new wild west, where murder and mayhem are common. An analysis of crime in boom counties shows that while crime does increase, the offenses in most places reflect an influx of young males in the population, with an increase in common assaults, disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, and drug offenses. While serious and violent offenses increase in some boom counties, there is no consistent pattern, and some boomtowns or boom counties have relatively low growth in the number of serious crimes reported to the police. There is also evidence that crime rates stabilize as the boom matures and fewer workers are required to maintain resource extraction.
Rick Ruddell

4. Violence Toward Women: A Boom for Whom?

Abstract
The influx of young single males flowing into sparsely populated boom communities for work results in men greatly outnumbering women. Some of these newcomers contribute to increased levels of antisocial behavior and crime, including the victimization of women. Women report being hounded with unwanted male attention, and a number of studies have shown that their rates of victimization increase after the start of a boom. Women from vulnerable populations, such as Native Americans, members of visible minority groups, and the poor, may be more at risk of victimization, and some of these women disappear and are never heard from again. In addition to being at a greater risk of victimization, many women are excluded from the benefits of a boom, are relegated to the poorly paying jobs, and find themselves engaging in part-time sex work and in precarious living conditions.
Rick Ruddell

5. Crimes of the Powerful

Abstract
While most of this book focuses upon antisocial behavior, disorder, and crime (“street crimes”), this chapter explores the crimes of the powerful, such as frauds, hustles, and scams, or what is called “crimes in the suites.” Although street crimes capture the public’s attention, we do not spend much time thinking about corporate crimes occurring in the oil and gas or mining industries. As these crimes are out of sight, they are also out of mind. This chapter describes three types of white-collar offenses associated with the oil and gas and mining industries: (a) financial crimes such as fraud and embezzlement, (b) violations of laws and regulations intended to ensure worker safety, and (c) environmental crimes, such as illegal dumping of toxic waste. An analysis of these offenses shows that prosecutions for these acts are rare, and few of these offenders are harshly punished.
Rick Ruddell

6. Dangerous Driving

Abstract
The expansion in oil and gas extraction has resulted in a large increase in the number of fatal vehicle crashes and collisions in boom counties. The increase in traffic-related deaths is due to the growing volume of traffic; the workers driving these vehicles are often fatigued or rushed; and the roads in many rural boom counties were never designed or constructed to manage the number of large and overweight vehicles. There is also an increase in aggressive and impaired driving and road rage in boom counties. Taken together, these factors lead to traffic deaths, and while the focus of this chapter is on fatalities, for every person killed in a crash there are about five serious and about 75 minor injuries. In addition to exploring the reasons for these crashes, the perceptions of the public and police toward driving in boomtowns are examined and a number of initiatives to reduce traffic collisions are described.
Rick Ruddell

7. Boomtown Justice Systems

Abstract
Increased occurrences of antisocial behavior, dangerous driving, and crime after a boom place significant demands on the police, courts, and corrections. This chapter describes the impact of the boom on these agencies, and respondents in boomtown studies report an increased number of calls for services from the public, delays in the time it takes cases to work their way through the courts, probation officers who find it difficult to manage their large caseloads, and overcrowded local jails. Turnover in many of these agencies is high as local agencies find it difficult to compete with the higher pay offered by the oil-field industries. In addition to describing the challenges faced by these public agencies, the roles that private security and first-responders play in crime prevention and responding to disorder and unintentional injuries are also profiled. Altogether, these public, private, and voluntary organizations play an important role in managing the disorder created by the boom.
Rick Ruddell

8. Explaining Boomtown Effects

Abstract
This chapter provides some explanations as to why crime increases after a resource-based boom occurs. Of special interest is addressing why some boomtowns experience a much higher volume and seriousness of crime than others. In order to explain the variation in the distribution of crime, a number of theories that explain the impacts of rapid population growth are described. Traditional theories of crime, however, do not fully explain this variation because they fail to take into account political and economic forces or issues related to social class, masculinity, and inequality. The chapter ends with a discussion about the characteristics of the newcomer populations (what some have called the “people pollution” problem), and how the nature of the newcomer’s or transient population’s work influences their community involvement. Last, the issue of community conflict (between newcomers and established residents) and groups of long-term residents is described.
Rick Ruddell

9. The Bust

Abstract
Between 2000 and 2015, several hundred American communities experienced the rapid population growth and industrialization associated with resource extraction. Neighboring counties also experienced spillover effects: housing shortages; growing demands placed on health, education, social services, and the justice system; and increased levels of antisocial behavior, disorder, crime, and traffic collisions. What is happening in the US is similar to energy-based or mining booms in other nations. One caution repeated throughout this book, however, is that while no two boomtowns are alike, all booms eventually bust. This chapter describes how some boomtowns became doomtowns after the resource bust of 2014–2015 as tax revenues decreased, businesses closed, and there was an uptick in crime in some places. Knowing the dynamics of the boom-bust-recovery cycle enables forward-looking politicians and government officials to prepare for the bust at the onset of the boom.
Rick Ruddell

10. Preparing for the Next Boom

Abstract
This book started with Thomas, Smith, and Ortiz’s contention that if a social problem can be predicted it can be prevented. Previous chapters highlighted the challenges that emerge after a boom occurs; this chapter provides a list of 15 strategies that can reduce boomtown effects. These strategies include responding to a boom knowing it will eventually end, and a key recommendation is that local officials channel revenues from the boom into their community’s physical infrastructure and investments in human resources to create long-term advantages. Given the focus of the book, many of these strategies involve responses to antisocial behavior, disorder, and crime, although all social problems tend to be interconnected, and it is difficult to disentangle crime from population changes, the characteristics and job-related roles of the newcomer population, an inadequate physical infrastructure, and a lack of health, education, and social services to support the local justice system.
Rick Ruddell

Backmatter

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