Bad news on the crime front

Violent crime has started to rise again. Maybe reducing federal aid to local law enforcement wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Violent crime nationwide, which fell throughout the mid-to-late 1990’s and then held steady, has started to move back up: murders and armed robberies were up 4-5% in 2005 compared to 2004. That’s not a big move, but it’s not good news. For reasons unknown, the big increases were in cities of between 500,000 and 1,000,000; the big cities, including New York and Los Angeles, are still making progress. Property crime is still in a holding pattern. (Summary table here.)

We’ve already got 2.2 million people behind bars, which is several times the historical norm for incarceration per capita. Those who want to keep building prisons must subscribe to the maxim, “When brute force fails, you’re not using enough.” Fortunately, we’re starting to get smarter about how to get tougher. But that doesn’t mean we can do the job without adequate numbers of bodies in uniform.

This seems like a lousy time to be reducing Federal aid to local law enforcement and diverting police into fighting terrorism.

Footnote New York is now the lowest-crime big city in the country, and Dallas the highest-crime. Must be all those criminal-coddling liberal Democratic judges in Dallas.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

6 thoughts on “Bad news on the crime front”

  1. MK Says:
    "We've already got 2.2 million people behind bars, which is several times the historical norm for incarceration per capita."
    How many of the 2.2 million are non-violent drug offenders? The drug liberalizers often imply that our over-incarceration is solely the result of the war on drugs, but that seems implausible to me.
    Also, here's an interesting question. Conservatives have been known to argue that declining crime is the direct result of harsh measures that are for smaller and smaller crimes, e.g., mandatory minimums, so that "bad people" are imprisoned for longer terms before they do something horrible. Far leftists sometimes seem to agree with the assumption when they argue against what they call "the prison industrial complex"
    Has overincarceration played any part in the reduction of (legitimate) crime since the early '90s?

  2. Why are you Liberals rejoicing that crime rates are rising? Why are you casting aspersions on the leadership of Our Great Leader?
    Why aren't you reporting on all the hospitals that are being built in this country? Or that most parts of the US have electricity 24 hours a day?
    When Our Great Leader's plans are complete you "journalists" will find yourselves reporting only on improved crop production and our wonderful tractors.
    You had better start reporting that crime is going down. As Our Great Infallible Leader has shown us, if you keep repeating it, it will come true.
    All hail! All hail! All hail!

  3. "The drug liberalizers often imply that our over-incarceration is solely the result of the war on drugs, but that seems implausible to me."
    Not solely, but remember that the prison toll from the war on drugs isn't limited to those imprisoned directly for drug offenses. It also includes imprisonment due to the secondary crimes the war on drugs generates; Violence during turf wars, crimes by addicts to pay deliberately inflated prices for inherently cheap chemicals, failure to control genuine crime due to diversion of policing resources into the "war".
    Some of these are genuine offenses that people ought to be imprisoned for committing, but the fact they got committed is still a consequence of this "war".

  4. Criminal elements may not be able to afford NYC anymore: housing costs may be pushing serious crime into the suburbs. This is def. true for Manhattan and may be true more broadly.
    Somebody should look into this dynamic.

  5. Yet One More Negative Thing About Dallas, Texas

    At the end of a post on crime trends (all of which are troubling – violent crime is up, the incarceration rate is weirdly high, and while this is going on, Bush's government is cutting aid to the nation's police…

  6. Examples of violent crimes. 53 year old grandmother recovering from cancer hanging sign illegally on a telephone pole. Police see her, tell her she can get a fine, which she doesn't believe, but upon being ordered to take it down, she goes to take it down. Police man grabs the tiny woman by the arm from behind her back. She reacts "violently" pulling away from him, telling him to take his hand off her, where upon he slams her into a store window… She is serving her jail time.
    Man soundly sleeping awoken by the sound of door being kicked in. Toddler's bed is on other side of door, he jumps up and blindly shoots at the intruder who happens to be a cop with a search warrent for the apartment next door (looking for drugs). After being beat by cops, taken to jail, baby left unattended, he's booked, tried, on death row.
    The La Raza's have been empowered by the government to break into closed government buildings, stab an employee with a Mexican flag stick, throw rocks at cops standing guard over the American flag pole, so they can not remove it.
    Recently a Mexican Mafia guy bragged about how he still could run the streets from a US jail cell, simply by provoking a little mini riot. I don't see how laws and prison can end violent crime associated with drugs. Criminals don't care about laws, go to great lengths not to get caught. In order to profit, they must continually hook new people. Much like any othre product on the legal market.

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