Crime in Czechoslovakia

The author of the perceptive opinion-page article "Freedom's Burden," June 5, is to be congratulated. Considering that he visited our country for all of six weeks and does not speak our language, it is an impressive achievement.However, two points of fact need be noted. Although our crime rate has risen, it remains at less than half that of neighboring Vienna, and one-twentieth that of New York. To speak of "mayhem" is misleading: This is still one of the safest places in Europe and incomparably safer than the United States. The second point is that though many of the prisoners released under President Vaclav Havel's amnesty were indeed common criminals, the proportion of crimes for which they are responsible is entirely commensurate with their number as a percentage of the population. The increased crime rate cannot be blamed on them. Erazim Kohak, Prague

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