Monday, August 03, 2009


"The Real Murder Mystery? It’s the Low Crime Rate," a report by Shaila Dewan in the August 1 issue of The New York Times, debunked the long-held belief by liberals that (1) misery and poverty are the root causes of crime and (2) that better education and higher incomes are necessary to reduce crime. The article also debunked the conservative belief that longer prison sentences will bring crime down.

Dewan reported on the decline in major crimes for the first half of 2009 which flew in the face of dire predictions that the severe economic downturn would lead to a sharp increase in crime. Here are a few excerpts from the Times story:

The surprise is yet more proof that tea leaves and sun spots may be a better predictor of crime rates than criminologists and the police.

— experts are largely at a loss to explain what makes the crime rate go up or down.

While the decline may not have taken hold in the minds of the public, it has undermined a cherished belief, particularly among liberals, in root causes — that criminals are born of misery and the limited options of poverty. "There are people that are putting up with an awful lot of suffering, and they’re not complaining all that much," said Andrew Karmen, a criminologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

But the fact that so few forces have a demonstrable effect on crime can be viewed, in a twisted kind of way, as good news. The decline, [University of California law professor Franklin E.] Zimring said, has shown that it isn’t necessary to accomplish major feats, like improving education or raising wages, or punitive ones, like increasing prison sentences, to bring crime down. Smart policing can have an effect.  

1 comment:

Centurion said...

That's an awful lot of conclusions drawn from a six month downturn in crime statistics.

God save us from journalists and college professors.

(Other than you Howie).