Thursday, January 25, 2007

Why is crime going down?

Why is crime going down? No one seems to know.

I listened to Professor Franklin Zimring on KQED last night via the Forum's Podcast. He was talking about his new book The Great American Crime Decline and it was pretty amazing hearing him talk about what has brought about the American decline in crime since 1991. There has been some amazing examples of declines in crime, like New York City's crime rate dropping 75% in that time, but overall crime has dropped everywhere in the states and much of the industrialized world. New York's drop is twice the national average.

While conservatives will say that the increase in the number of prisons and prisoners is the explanation ... and liberals will say that it is the conditions of society (the economy, education, etc.) that brought crime down. Zimring says it is neither but combinations of these and a variety of other things. While all of these things did fluctuate throughout this time, crime steadily dropped. He is a professor of law at Berkley and the head of the criminal justice department, but he seems to be a statistician at heart. He says that a 5% change/improvement in the social fabric of New York City, resulted in 75% a decrease in crime.

The most interesting part of this program I found was when the public kept calling in with their own theories and he kept knocking them down.

Like the theory that the passing of Roe vs. Wade in the 1970s had something to do with it. The thought is that once abortion was legalized in the 1970's, by the 1990's we had much less adults who had grown up unwanted by their parents. This was very interesting to me but then Zimring mentioned that a similar drop in crime happened in a lot of countries around the world that didn't make abortion legal in the 1970's or country that it had always been legal. So pro-choice folks would love this to be the case, but it doesn't appear to be true.

Someone else mentioned the Brady Bill being passed that made for more gun control, but he pointed out that some states like California already had a bill that was/is even stricter than the Brady Bill and the drop in crime there was similar to the other states without such laws.

I am adding this book to my Wish List on but it is unfortunately I could not have called into this show. I believe that Internet helped decrease crime. I heard no one mention of this. I believe that loneliness is awful things and that when one is lonely there is no telling what someone will do just to remind oneself that one is alive. The Internet has been an amazing tool to connect people around the world. I realize sometimes it makes us more isolated, but overall, I can hardly feel lonely with there being people IMing all day.

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