Monthly Archive: September 2021
The “lead-crime hypothesis” argues that childhood exposure to lead is a primary driver of criminal behavior from childhood into adulthood. The reasoning behind the theory is that childhood lead exposure correlates with behavioral traits (e.g., aggression and impulsivity), which can increase motivations for criminal behavior. The idea has circulated among academics and the general public. Several careful well-designed studies have found that lead exposure affects crime rates, but debates continue regarding how strong the relationship is. As current levels of lead exposure are already dramatically lower than they were decades ago, it is unlikely that major improvements in nationwide crime rates would result from further eradication of lead pipes and service lines. Continue reading . . .
When Vox and NYU, of all places, finally see that policing is the solution and not the problem, you know that our violent crime epidemic has gone over the cliff.
From this article in Vox:
Last year, the US’s murder rate spiked by almost 30 percent. So far in 2021, murders are up nearly 10 percent in major cities. The 2020 increase alone is the largest percentage increase ever recorded in America — and a reversal from overall declines in murder rates since the 1990s.
American policymakers now want answers on this surge. One approach has good evidence behind it: the police.
There is solid evidence that more police officers and certain policing strategies reduce crime and violence. In a recent survey of criminal justice experts, a majority said increasing police budgets would improve public safety. The evidence is especially strong for strategies that home in on very specific problems, individuals, or groups that are causing a lot of crime or violence — approaches that would require restructuring how many police departments work today.
I don’t agree with everything in the article — far from it — but it’s instructive that our national murder crisis has come to this point. At some stage, reality does intrude, even in the citadels of liberalism.
A Canadian woman visiting Los Angeles got a first hand look at the everyday violence happening in the nation’s largest “woke” city earlier this month. Carl Samson of NextShark reports that Jennifer Chen was sitting alone waiting for a friend in her car in a parking lot near Beverly Hills at 4:25 p.m. on September 15, when a middle aged white man walked up and slugged her in the face while saying “f***ing Asians.” Chen chased him down and when confronted, he denied hitting her. Parking lot video had captured the incident but under current California law the assault is misdemeanor battery, carrying little of no consequences. Down the road a couple of miles, CBS News reports that a neighborhood in the beachside community of Venice has become home to a large homeless encampment where drug addicts, gunshots, screaming and threats of violence have become common.
Today the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) released preliminary findings of their soon to be released annual report, Crime in the United States: 2020. While the final publication has not yet been released, the data can be accessed through the Crime Data Explorer. Additionally, publications from prior years are accessible online.
The preliminary data revealed that violent crime is up for the first time in four years, with 1,277,696 violent crimes reported to United States law enforcement in 2020. The violent crime rate (which accounts for population size) was 387.8 per 100,000 — a 5.2% increase when compared with 2019 rates (380.8 per 100,000). The violent crime increase appears to be a result of increases in aggravated assaults (+12.0%) and murders (+29.4%). However, not all types of violent crime increased from 2019 to 2020 — robbery decreased 9.3% and rape (revised definition) decreased 12.0%. Conversely, property crime is down, with 6,452,038 property crimes reported to law enforcement in 2020. The property crime rate (again, accounting for population size) was 1958.2 per 100,000, which decreased 8.1% when compared with 2019 rates (2130.6 per 100,000). The decrease in property crime appears to be driven by decreases in burglary (-7.4%) and larceny-theft (-10.6%). In contrast, auto thefts increased (+11.8%). It is important to note that crimes of arson are not included in property crime estimates, due to disparities in the agencies that submitted data for arson.
You don’t need to look far to see the foreseeably gruesome results of criminal justice “reform” policies. Among the favorites for “reformers” are an end to cash bail, probation instead of jail, and revocation hearings, if any, that are understanding for “technical” violations.
All three policies were at work in the latest child murder in Prince George’s County, Maryland, just across the Potomac River from where I live.
A good example of the mainstream media narrative regarding the unprecedented surge in homicides, which started last year and has continued unabated this year, is this June article from the Washington Post which reported that racist police, inequality and the economic and social impact of the pandemic are the root causes. “Experts have attributed the increase to a variety of new and long-standing issues—-including entrenched inequality, soaring gun ownership, and fraying relations between police and the communities they serve—all intensified during the coronavirus pandemic and widespread uprising for racial justice.” It’s guns and racism that’s causing all those murders folks. Virginia lawyer Hans Bader has this piece in Liberty Unyielding debunking this claptrap.
Two recent articles deal with one of the most persistent myths in justice policy: the “root cause” obsession. Large numbers of people are haunted by the vision of Victor Hugo’s fictional character Jean Valjean, who went to prison for stealing bread to feed his sister’s starving children. If only we provided a better social safety net, the myth goes, crime would disappear. Whatever validity it may have had in mid-nineteenth century France, stealing for the necessities of life has virtually nothing to do with crime in the post-World War II United States.
This “poverty is the root cause of crime” vision was, to a large extent, how LBJ sold America on the Great Society, and it was a cataclysmic failure. Yet the myth weirdly persists and in the last few years has even grown stronger. Jason Riley has this column in the WSJ today titled The Destructive Legacy of the Great Society: Government subsidies for antisocial behavior stalled decades worth of black progress. Charles Fain Lehman has this article in the Summer edition of City Journal titled, Contra “Root Causes”: What the work of James Q. Wilson can teach us about the fight over criminal justice today. Continue reading . . .
Two deputies district attorneys (DDAs) in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office have been punished for following a parole policy announced last December by newly elected District Attorney George Gascon. The reason; following his policy to allow the release of a serial rapist would have made Gascon look bad. Shortly after his election last fall, Gascon issued a group of “Special Directives” that prosecutors in his office were required to follow. Directive 20-14 states; “This Office’s default policy is that we will not attend parole hearings and will support in writing the grant of parole for a person who has already served their mandatory minimum period of incarceration…However, if the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) has determined in their Comprehensive Risk Assessment that a person represents a “high” risk of recidivism, the DDA may, in their letter, take a neutral position on the grant of parole.” There are no exceptions for violent criminals, including murderers and rapists, in the written policy.