Critical Reasoning Question 8-Violent Crime

The rate of violent crime in this state is up 30% from last year.  The fault lies entirely in our court system: Recently our judges’ sentences have been so lenient that criminals can now do almost anything without fear of a long prison term.

The argument above would be weakened if it were true that

A.  85% of the other states in the nation have lower crime rates than does this state

B.  White-collar crime in this state has also increased by over 25% in the last year

C.  35% of the police in this state have been laid off in the last year due to budget cuts

D.  Polls show that 65% of the population in this state oppose capital punishment

E.  The state has hired 25 new judges in the last year to compensate for deaths and retirements

Think you know the answer?

The correct answer is C.

If we can show that something besides the court system may explain the increase in crime (if we can show a different cause for the same effect) we would weaken the argument.  The author, after all, assumes that there is no other cause ( a common GMAT assumption).  Tackle the choices, looking for another cause besides the allegedly lenient court sentences.

(A) is a classic faulty comparison.  The argument does not compare one state to another.  The argument’s scope is the crime rate increase in this state only.  In (B), the fact that white-collar crime is also on the rise is more of a strengthener than a weakener-maybe it is the leniency in the courtroom that is responsible for an overall crime surge.  (C) presents an alternative explanation for the increase in crime.  Maybe it is not the judges at all but the fact that there are fewer cops on the street.  As for (D), what if 65% of people in the state oppose capital punishment?  what if 100% of people in this state oppose capital punishment?  This provides little insight into why crime has gone up since last year.  (E) tells us that numerous judges have been replaced in the last year.  It is possible that the new judges are more lenient, but this would only strengthen the author’s conclusion.

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