The Great Black Hope

**The Great Black Hope **

The decline in crime between 1994 and 2000 may have been the greatest in American history. Not only was the drop pronounced, it was nationwide and embraced all serious crime categories. Between 1990 and 2000, the nationwide murder rate–one of the most accurate crime indicators–fel 41%. And the federal government’s crime victim survey revealed over the same decade a 38% drop in nonfatal violent crime.

The reduction in murders alone saved over 5,400 lives a year. The resulting change in many cities was palpable. Until the recent economic slump, tourism was thriving, and downtown hotels, restaurants, and theaters were flourishing. People no longer were afraid to go to business districts or park their cars on city streets. Remember those makeshift “No Radio” signs in car windows? Nowadays, so many carms come into Manhattan that New York’s mayor wants to charge an entry fee. Our urban centers are safer, and perhaps as important, they feel safer.

Oddly, despite all of the effort to study crime when it was soaring, from the late 1960s through the early '90s, the great crime decline caught the experts by surprise. Not only did they fail to predict it, but even now they cannot quite explain it.

A big reason for this inability is the academy’s refusal to deal candidly with questions of race. Although African-Americans are disproportionately involved in violent crimes, non-academics will no doubt be amazed to learn that few criminologists analyze in a frank, straightforward manner the role of African-Americans in crime. For instance, Berkeley criminologist Franklin Zimring’s The Great American Crime Decline (2007) barely discusses race and does not even have an index entry for blacks or any other racial category. Zimring is not atypical, and the failure to examine or even identify the race factor is not accidental. Now that crime has declined and African-Americans are leading the downturn, perhaps we have an opportunity to present a more honest anaysis of America’s crime situation.


Interesting, the author seems to conclude that “negative role models” spurred a large-spread cultural change in behavior. This gives far more weight to the idea that cultures can change and may actually be a very and extremely interesting subject for anyone who wants to significantly reduce crime in any population anywhere around the world. Instead of spending money on programs, it seems that culture can be shifted as well and is highly important! Empirical evidence supporting that idea is kind of profound and new in my non-humble opinion. :eek:

Sadly, it seems that “negative role models” are more powerful than “positive role models.” It almost sounds like human nature. Eve and Adam couldn’t just theoretically accept that eating the fruit would lead to death. They had to have the negative practical experience of being kicked out of the Garden of Eden before they could accept God’s laws or commandments and so humans have been suffering ever since. :frowning:

Maybe the best remedy for suffering people is to let them suffer and suffer until they’ve had enough - tough love - while encouraging as many people as possible to live a highly ethical and moral life and taking care of them when they return. (i.e. adopting a Parable of the Prodigal Son/Parable of the Good Samaritan model for actions in society in lieu of actively going out and ministering). After a long period of time, they may come to their senses and commit in their hearts to living an ethical and moral life in line with God’s will.

It is good to hear some message of positivity. Sadly, I rarely hear genuine reasons for real hope in society today so this one may be a cause for celebration!! :heart: :heart: :heart: :):D:p

Actually, the “three strikes” laws have been credited with the drop in the crime rate. Repeat offenders are responsible for a high percentage crime, and putting them away for life, or a very long time, makes it safer for the rest of us. Alot of violent crime is due to repeat gang activity.

Oddly, despite all of the effort to study crime when it was soaring, from the late 1960s through the early '90s, the great crime decline caught the experts by surprise. Not only did they fail to predict it, but even now they cannot quite explain it.

Crime is mostly the activity of the young and the underclass. And it almost always rises in times of economic hardship. The 90s were marked by the aging of the American population, and by economic good times. It also marked an unusually large number of young blacks and Hispanics entering careers that had been traditionally closed to them, further reducing the pool of potential criminals.

Why would that be a mystery?

Three strikes laws might have helped, or they might have actually made it worse. Or they might have had no effect at all. The data do not show a clear trend:

**“California’s decline in crime compared with the national average, presents another picture. New York, not California, showed the sharpest decline in crime during the time in question. New York does not have three strikes legislation. Canada experienced a similar national crime drop. It does not have three strikes, and imprisons people at a rate half that of New Zealand.”

“Even in California, the results were unclear. Californian counties that aggressively enforced the law had no greater declines in crime than did counties that used it far more sparingly. One study found that crime dropped by 21.3 percent in the six most lenient \“three strikes\” counties, compared to a 12.7 percent drop in the toughest counties.”**

In Texas, they put a petty thief away for life, after his third offense, stealing several frozen turkeys. Which is OK with me, but they had to parole more first-time offenders to make room for the three-strike criminals, some of whom had committed dangerous crimes. The law should make it clear that they don’t do that kind of thing.

Of course the title is from Jack Johnsons era…a great 'black’boxer who was made into a hateful figure by the promoters re: they hired a mediocre out of retirement to fight Johnson so as to raise interest …this racist nonsense succeeded but we wont fall for that right? Crime has fallen…since the borders are open and one reads about criminals entering america at an alarming rate one wonders also about these stats! Abortion is not a ‘crime’ I guess to this post…50 millions of developing babies murdered and not a mention!!! Thousands of young American troops being blown to bits on Irag street corners,dont count,and now this latest travesty of a president sends some many thousands more over to a bleak hell hole called Afghanistan,I guess they dont count either…as the economy sinks crime will rise as more and more will steal and rob…will that count…as the masses witness to crimes at the top,that only increased anarchy…more crime…better double lock my door!

The most plausible explanation for the crime decline is that it was caused by cultural change across generations, principally among African-Americans. In particular, the 1980s gave birth to a generation of African-Americans who increasingly rejected the culture of crime, and in some cases are mainstreaming into the middle class. Simply stated, these young black males saw the effects of drugs and crime on the adults in their communities and resolved that they did not want to spend their lives in prison or as junkies, or die prematurely from AIDS or murder. One might call this an intergenerational deterrent effect.

This actually speaks volumes as to the why. Once all other factors are accounted for- ie aging population, lessening of institutional racism, larger police presence, cleaning up the petty crime and graffitti, etc, etc., the idea that the black crime rate is still greater than the effects of all of this really demonstrates the effect of negative role modeling.

There is nothing more effective in de-romanticizing the hype of the coolness surrounding the criminal drug-n-guns life style than growing up and seeing how absolutely pathetic such people are in real life. To see a junkie is to know that such people are not Leroy Brown ‘bad’, or ‘dangerous’ or, even James Dean ‘tragic’, or any of the other adjectives that romanticize the criminal counter-culture. Instead what young people are seeing is people who are washed out and pathetic to an almost clownish, bag-lady sort of degree.

If that message is finally starting to get through to the next generation, then this is really, really good news.

I agree. :heart: :):p:D

Richard Curtis spent ten years, from 1987 to 1997, conducting ethnographic fieldwork in several Hispanic Brooklyn neighborhoods. He noted first-hand the devastation wrought by drugs, followed in the mid-'90s by what he called “an improbable transofmration,” a change motivated by fear of drugs and their consequences.

Many youth had intimate experience with the variety of problems that afflicted their elders as an outcome of involvement with cocaine, crack, or heroin, and they made a conscious attempt to avoid similar fates. Bubbler (seventeen years old in 1996), for example, had witnessed his mother’s despair after two older, heroin-using brothers who worked for the corporate owners on Fishman Street became casualties of the war on drugs and were sentenced to lengthy prison terms… Rather than fulfilling the prophecy of becoming addicted and remorseless “superpredators,” the overwhelming majority of kids who grew up Bushwick in the late 1980s and early 1990s responded to the multiple threats of violence, crime, AIDS and addiction - as most Americans would likely do- by withdrawing from the danger and opting for the relative safety of family, home, church, and other sheltering institutions which persevered during the most difficult years.

I am curious as to what exactly Curris’s study found, as well as if the Hispanic experience does truly in fact transfer onto the black experience.

If all these conclusions are correct, it only underscores support of “traditional marriage” and Church and societal need to support these institutions. :hmmm: It also may lend an argument towards greater support and provisions made for community colleges. Very possibly many of these youth may, after reaching an age of maturity, 17 years, etc. now have the internal drive, discipline, and motivation to do well and not imitate “negative role models.” But at this age, it’s hard to counteract a decade and a half of underperforming in high school and it may be hard to reform. If you haven’t studied the hard technical subjects in high school at an advanced level, even if you do get admitted to a decent college, you may underperform and drop your major to a less competitive major. And if you or your parents haven’t been intimately concerned about your education for the past decade and a half, you might have trouble getting into a decent college at all. So they could go to community colleges - but with good teaching and advising, there may in fact be nothing wrong with that.

Are our community colleges good and broad enough for intelligent, ambitious, disciplined people without peer or parental support who want to make it in life? Are our community colleges well promoted enough? :o:confused::shrug:

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