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The Crime Decline

Marc Fisher has this article in the WaPo regarding the dramatic decline in crime since the peak of the 1980s and the puzzlement and debate over the reasons.

It has become de rigueur in such discussions to briefly acknowledge that the tough sentencing reforms of the 1980s and 1990s are a substantial part of the reason but then immediately say something to detract from the import of that conclusion:  "Most studies agree that increases in incarceration explain part of the decline in violent crime, though Solberg and many criminologists say the warehousing of young men convicted of nonviolent crimes causes as many social problems as it solves."  But the people quoted in the story who actually live in a cleaned-up area don't seem to think so.

The result [of housing policies] is a very different population, said Joyce Robinson-Paul, a 32-year resident and the advisory neighborhood commissioner for the area. "The new neighbors are very quiet," she said. But "the real crime problem didn't leave until many of the dealers were arrested and went to jail."
In California, where we have elected a Governor and Legislature who cannot remember history and are determined to repeat it, we are seeing the trend in reverse.  In the FBI numbers for first-half 2012 versus first-half 2011 (a clean before-and-after on the realignment that took effect in October 2011), we see crime increases in California while national figures are flat.


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