Tomato-throwing opportunity

Question: Is this the end of crime as we know it?
Answer: Not hardly. But there’s some reason to hope for the end of our brute-force approach to dealing with it.

Thursday, April 27, 7pm

Arroyo Seco Library Branch

6145 N. Figueroa

Highland Park:

Zócalo and the Los Angeles Times Editorial Pages Present

“Is This the End of Crime as We Know it?”

Moderated by Andrés Martinez, Times Editorial Page Editor

Since the late 1970s, urban police departments have watched crime rates fall drastically. But not everyone agrees on why it happened. George Kelling one of the country’s foremost experts on crime policy and the co-author of the “broken windows” theory, and Mark A.R. Kleiman, professor of public policy at UCLA, joins Times columnist Erin Aubry Kaplan and editorial writer Robert Greene to explore the competing theories on why crime has dropped as well as to discuss what this means for developing new crime prevention strategies for the 21st century.

Is this the end of crime as we know it? Not hardly. But there’s some reason to hope for the end of our brute-force approach to dealing with it.

Note to my Westside friends: Yes, Highland Park is on the wrong side of Interstate 5. But no, you don’t need a visa.

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: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

8 thoughts on “Tomato-throwing opportunity”

  1. I wonder how much technology has contributed to the decline. Several points:
    If you look at car theft numbers, especially during the 90's, they are way down. I have to believe it's due largely to built-in theft prevention features in cars that were introduced back then. (Insurance companies take that view.) Pity such changes weren't introduced earlier; some people believe that Detriot actually profited by being lax in that regard. More sales of parts and new cars if they're getting stolen and chopped. In any event, unless it's a cheapo car, it's a real challenge to steal it quickly these days.
    Less cash, more plastic. There's just less paper money around to steal. From someone's wallet. From a cash register. Sure, maybe a robber can get $300, but that's a low return for the risk.
    Ubiquitous video cameras. How many times have you seen on the local news, clear, crisp images of the dudes robbing the convenience store? Everytime I see that, I say to myself, "buddy, your ass is grass." It's a guaranteed guilty verdict. And these cameras are getting cheaper and have better resolution.
    Now technology isn't going to stop personal disagreements that lead to violence (rape, assault, murder), but it does seem to have played a big role in reducing the crimes involving stealing stuff and money.

  2. When coupled with the aging of the population and rising standards of living, I think there are many factors.
    Not sure about the statistics of hard drug use in low-income populations. Has that changed over the last 20 years?

  3. If I may be contrarian for a minute, my husband's quoted to me some research that claims that crime has not, in fact, gone down. Here's the argument: (1) Crime data is based primarily on murder rates, because these are the most closely and accurately tracked crimes. (2) Murder rates have indeed been dropping. (3) However, that's because more victims have been surviving attempted murders, due to advances in trauma treatment. (4) If victims who survive now (but didn't previously) were counted as murder victims, the rate would be shown to be actually increasing, not decreasing. I'm no expert on this subject, but I thought it was a provocative argument, and I thought I'd pass it along. Believe me, I'd love to hear it's wrong.

  4. Will you touch on the emergence of multi-jurisdictional crime gangs like the Crips, Bloods and the GOP?

  5. "Broken Windows" and "community policing" a la Kelling could roughly be translated as "let the cops kick ass." But as I recall, even the studies W&K based the original article on didn't show a huge impact on predatory crime.
    Punishment-and-pain, in everything from child-rearing to crime to "rendition," seems to be one of the key variables separating liberals and conservatives. Conservatives love it — look at the Supremes yesterday in the oral arguments on painful death. Liberals shy away from it. The conservatives have some evidence on their side, but as I recall, the effects of increased arrest rates, imprisonment rates, etc. are not large.

  6. A few years back a story in the L.A. Times about changing neighborhoods referred to "newly hip Highland Park." I mentioned that to my father, who grew up in the area. He laughed and said that Highland Park had been a lot of things in his 60-odd years, but this was the first time it had been "hip."

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