CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on Bill Clinton & BLM

Re: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on Bill Clinton & BLM

Postby admin » Fri Apr 15, 2016 6:23 am

The Many Causes of America’s Decline in Crime. A new report finds that locking up more offenders isn't making people any safer—and may even be counterproductive.
by Inimai M. Chettiar
February 11, 2015

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The dramatic rise of incarceration and the precipitous fall in crime have shaped the landscape of American criminal justice over the last two decades. Both have been unprecedented. Many believe that the explosion in incarceration created the crime drop. In fact, the enormous growth in imprisonment only had a limited impact. And, for the past thirteen years, it has passed the point of diminishing returns, making no effective difference. We now know that we can reduce our prison populations and simultaneously reduce crime.

This has profound implications for criminal justice policy: We lock up millions of people in an effort to fight crime. But this is not working.

The link between rising incarceration and falling crime seems logical. Draconian penalties and a startling expansion in prison capacity were advertised as measures that would bring down crime. That’s what happened, right?

Not so fast. There is wide agreement that we do not yet fully know what caused crime to drop. Theories abound, from an aging population to growing police forces to reducing lead in the air. A jumble of data and theories makes it hard to sort out this big, if happy, mystery. And it has been especially difficult to pin down the role of growing incarceration.

So incarceration skyrocketed and crime was in free fall. But conflating simple correlation with causation in this case is a costly mistake. A report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, called What Caused the Crime Decline? finds that increasing incarceration is not the answer. As Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz writes in the foreword, “This prodigious rate of incarceration is not only inhumane, it is economic folly.”

Our team of economic and criminal justice researchers spent the last 20 months testing fourteen popular theories for the crime decline. We delved deep into over 30 years of data collected from all 50 states and the 50 largest cities. The results are sharply etched: We do not know with precision what caused the crime decline, but the growth in incarceration played only a minor role, and now has a negligible impact.

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The Crime Decline

The drop in crime stands as one of the more fascinating and remarkable social phenomena of our time. For decades, crime soared. Cities were viewed as unlivable. Politicians competed to run the most lurid campaign ads and sponsor the most punitive laws. Racially tinged “wedge issues” marked American politics from Richard Nixon’s “law and order” campaign of 1968 to the “Willie Horton” ads credited with helping George H.W. Bush win the 1988 election.

But over the past 25 years, the tide of crime and violence seemed to simply recede. Crime is about half of what it was at its peak in 1991. Violent crime plummeted 51 percent. Property crime fell 43 percent. Homicides are down 54 percent. In 1985, there were 1,384 murders in New York City. Last year there were 333. The country is an undeniably safer place. Growing urban populations are one positive consequence.

During that same period, we saw the birth of mass incarceration in the United States. Since 1990, incarceration nearly doubled, adding 1.1 million people behind bars. Today, our nation has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prison population. The United States is the world’s most prodigious incarcerator.

Incarceration and Crime Rates 1980-2013

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Brennan Center

The Role of Incarceration

What do the numbers say? Did this explosion in incarceration cause the crime decline?

It turns out that increased incarceration had a much more limited effect on crime than popularly thought. We find that this growth in incarceration was responsible for approximately 5 percent of the drop in crime in the 1990s. (This could vary from 0 to 10 percent.) Since then, however, increases in incarceration have had essentially zero effect on crime. The positive returns are gone. That means the colossal number of Americans cycling in and out of prisons and jails over the last 13 years was not responsible for any meaningful fraction of the drop in crime.

The figure below shows our main result: increased incarceration’s effectiveness since 1980. This is measured as the change in the crime rate expected to result from a 1 percent increase in imprisonment—what economists call an “elasticity.” During the 1980s and 1990s, as incarceration climbed, its effectiveness waned. Its effectiveness currently dwells in the basement. Today, a 1 percent increase in incarceration would lead to a microscopic 0.02 percent decline in crime. This is statistically indistinguishable from having no effect at all.

Effect of Increased Incarceration on Crime (1980-2013)

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Increased incarceration accounted for about 6 percent of the property crime decline in the 1990s, and 1 percent of that drop in the 2000s. The growth of incarceration had no observable effect on violent crime in the 1990s or 2000s. This last finding may initially seem surprising. But given that we are sending more and more low-level and non-violent offenders to prison (who may never have been prone to violent crime), the finding makes sense. Sending a non-violent offender to prison will not necessarily have an effect on violent crime.

How Rising Incarceration’s Effect on Crime Waned

There is no question that some level of incarceration had some positive impact on bringing down crime. There are many habitual offenders and people committing serious, violent crimes who may need to be kept out of society. Criminologists call this the “incapacitation” effect: Removing someone from society prevents them from committing crimes.

But after a certain point, that positive impact ceases. The new people filling prisons do so without bringing down crime much. In other words, rising incarceration rates produce less of an effect on crime reduction. This is what economists call “diminishing returns.” It turns out that the criminal justice system offers a near perfect picture of this phenomenon.

As incarceration doubled from 1990 to today, it became less effective. At its relatively low levels twenty years ago, incarceration may indeed have had some effect on crime. The positive returns may not have yet diminished.

Incarceration rates have now risen so high that further increases in incarceration are ineffective. Due to the war on drugs and the influx of harsher sentencing laws in the 1980s and 1990s, an increasing proportion of the 1.1 million prisoners added since 1990 were imprisoned for low-level or non-violent crimes. Today, almost half of state prisoners are convicted of non-violent crimes. More than half of federal prisoners are serving time for drug offenses. The system is no longer prioritizing arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating the most dangerous or habitual offenders. In this case, each additional prisoner will, on average, yield less in terms of crime reduction. We have incarcerated those we should not have. This is where the “more incarceration equals less crime” theory busts.

Even those who have argued for the effectiveness of incarceration acknowledge this possibility. University of Chicago economist and Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt found in his 2004 study that incarceration was responsible for over a third of the 1990s drop in violent crime. He noted that, “Given the wide divergence in the frequency and severity of offending across criminals, sharply declining marginal benefits of incarceration are a possibility,” which, if present, could have affected his findings.

Decrease in Incarceration and Crime

Can the United States safely reduce its incarcerated population? After all, it would be too bad if reducing incarceration yielded a spike in crime.

Fortunately, there is a real-time experiment underway. For many reasons, including straitened budgets and a desire to diminish prison populations, many states have started to cut back on imprisonment. What happened? Interestingly, and encouragingly, crime did not explode. In fact, it dropped. In the last decade, 14 states saw declines in both incarceration and crime. New York reduced imprisonment by 26 percent, while seeing a 28 percent reduction in crime. Imprisonment and crime both decreased by more than 15 percent in California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Texas. Eight states—Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah—lowered their imprisonment rates by 2 to 15 percent while seeing more than a 15 percent decrease in crime.

This is all very significant. Incarceration is not just any government policy. Mass incarceration comes at an incredible cost. “A year in prison can cost more than a year at Harvard,” Stiglitz points out. Taxpayers spend $260 billion a year on criminal justice. And there will continue to be less and less to show for it, as more people are incarcerated.

There are 2.7 million minor children with a parent behind bars. More than 1 in 9 black children have a parent incarcerated.


There are significant human costs as well—to individuals, families, communities, and the country. Spending a dollar on prisons is not the same as spending it on public television or the military. Prisons result in an enormous waste of human capital. Instead of so many low-level offenders languishing behind bars, they could be earning wages and contributing to the economy. Incarceration is so concentrated in certain communities that it has disrupted the gender balance and marriage rates. The costs are intergenerational. There are 2.7 million minor children with a parent behind bars. More than 1 in 9 black children have a parent incarcerated.

Research also shows that incarceration can actually increase future crime. Criminologists call this the “criminogenic effect” of prison. It is particularly powerful on low-level offenders. Once individuals enter prison, they are surrounded by other prisoners who have often committed more serious and violent offenses. Prison conditions also breed violent and anti-social behavior. Former prisoners often have trouble finding employment and reintegrating into society due to legal barriers, social stigma, and psychological scarring from prison. Approximately 600,000 prisoners reenter society each year. Those who can find employment earn 40 percent less than their peers, and 60 percent face long-term unemployment. Researchers estimate that the country’s poverty rate would have been more than 20 percent lower between 1980 and 2004 without mass incarceration.

This lack of stability increases the odds that former prisoners will commit new crimes.
The more people we put into prison who do not need to be there, the more this criminogenic effect increases. That is another plausible explanation for why our massive levels of incarceration are resulting in less crime control.

Our findings do not exist in a vacuum. A body of empirical research is slowly coalescing around the ineffectiveness of increased incarceration. Last year, the Hamilton Project issued a report calling incarceration a “classic case of diminishing returns,” based on findings from California and Italy. The National Research Council issued a hefty report last year, finding that crime was not the cause of mass incarceration. And, based on a summary of past research, the authors concluded that “the magnitude of the crime reduction [due to increased incarceration] remains highly uncertain and the evidence suggests it was unlikely to have been large.”

We go a few steps further to fully reveal the complex relationship between crime and incarceration. By using thirteen years of more recent data, gathered in the modern era of heavily elevated incarceration, combined with an empirical model that accounts for diminishing returns and controls for other variables, we are able to quantify the sharply declining benefits of overusing prison.

Other Factors Reducing Crime

But if it was not incarceration, then what did cause the crime decline?

There is no shortage of candidates. Every year, it seems, a new study advances a novel explanation. Levitt attributes about half the crime drop to the legalization of abortion. Amherst economist Jessica Reyes attributes about half the violent crime drop to the unleading of gasoline after the Clean Air Act. Berkeley law professor Franklin Zimring credits the police as the central cause. All three theories likely played some role.

Instead of a single, dominant cause, our research points to a vast web of factors, often complex, often interacting, and some unexpected. Of the theories we examined, we found the following factors had some effect on bringing down crime: a growth in income (5 to 10 percent), changes in alcohol consumption (5 to 10 percent), the aging population (0 to 5 percent), and decreased unemployment (0 to 3 percent). Policing also played a role, with increased numbers of police in the 1990s reducing crime (0 to 10 percent) and the introduction of CompStat having an even larger effect (5 to 15 percent).

But none is solely, or even largely, responsible for the crime drop. Unfortunately, we could not fully test a few theories, as the data did not exist at the detailed level we needed for our analysis. For those, we analyzed past research, finding that inflation and consumer confidence (individuals’ belief about the strength of the economy) probably had some effect on crime. The legalization of abortion and unleading of gasoline may also have played some role.

In aggregate, the fourteen factors we identified can explain some of the drop in crime in the 1990s. But even adding all of them together fails to explain the majority of the decrease.

Popular Theories on the Crime Decline

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Brennan Center

A Sensible Way Forward

No one factor brought down crime. Today, incarceration has become the default option in the fight against crime. But more incarceration is not a silver bullet. It has, in fact, ceased to be effective in reducing crime—and the country is slowly awakening to that reality. Incarceration can be reduced while crime continues to decline. The research shows this and many states are watching it unfold.

Where do we go from here? As President Obama said it in his State of the Union last month, “Surely we can agree that it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, crime and incarceration have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves all of us.” And indeed, reforming our criminal justice system is emerging as a bipartisan cause. Everyone from Jeb Bush to Hillary Clinton to the Koch Brothers to George Soros has made similar calls.

We should listen to them. There are bold, practical policy solutions starting to gain bipartisan support. Incarceration can be removed as a punishment for many non-violent, non-serious crimes. Violations of technical conditions of parole and probation should not lead to a return trip to prison. Sentence maximum and minimum lengths can be downscaled across the board. There is little reason to jail low-risk defendants who are simply waiting for their trials to begin. And, government funding streams can change to reward reducing incarceration.

Crime is expensive. We do well to fight it. But increasing incarceration is definitely not the answer.
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Re: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on Bill Clinton & BLM

Postby admin » Fri Apr 15, 2016 6:38 am

Lead: America's Real Criminal Element. New Research Finds Lead is the Hidden Villain Behind Violent Crime, Lower IQs, and Even the ADHD Epidemic. And Fixing the Problem is a Lot Cheaper Than Doing Nothing.
by Kevin Drum
Mother Jones
January/February 2013 Issue

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WHEN RUDY GIULIANI RAN FOR MAYOR of New York City in 1993, he campaigned on a platform of bringing down crime and making the city safe again. It was a comfortable position for a former federal prosecutor with a tough-guy image, but it was more than mere posturing. Since 1960, rape rates had nearly quadrupled, murder had quintupled, and robbery had grown fourteenfold. New Yorkers felt like they lived in a city under siege.

Throughout the campaign, Giuliani embraced a theory of crime fighting called "broken windows," popularized a decade earlier by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in an influential article in The Atlantic. "If a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired," they observed, "all the rest of the windows will soon be broken." So too, tolerance of small crimes would create a vicious cycle ending with entire neighborhoods turning into war zones. But if you cracked down on small crimes, bigger crimes would drop as well.

Giuliani won the election, and he made good on his crime-fighting promises by selecting Boston police chief Bill Bratton as the NYPD's new commissioner. Bratton had made his reputation as head of the New York City Transit Police, where he aggressively applied broken-windows policing to turnstile jumpers and vagrants in subway stations. With Giuliani's eager support, he began applying the same lessons to the entire city, going after panhandlers, drunks, drug pushers, and the city's hated squeegee men. And more: He decentralized police operations and gave precinct commanders more control, keeping them accountable with a pioneering system called CompStat that tracked crime hot spots in real time.


8: Spreading the Word

The daily press knew how to handle this story. So what if Science buried Nelson-Rees's report in the back pages under the stodgy title "Banded Marker Chromosomes as Indicators of Intraspecies Cellular Contamination." The newspapers, properly horrified, played it on page one with headlines more to the point:

CANCER WAR SET BACK
GOOF COSTS 20 YEARS OF RESEARCH

A line of human tumor cells used by laboratories around the world for more than 20 years may have invalidated millions of dollars worth of cancer research, according to a scientist's report .... As a result, says the author, Dr. Walter A. Nelson-Rees, checks are in order for dozens of laboratories engaged in cancer research. -- Los Angeles Herald Examiner


DEAD WOMAN'S CANCER CELLS SPREADING

Dr. Walter Nelson-Rees, one of the most experienced cell biologists in the world ... has reported that many cell lines are by no means what they are thought to be by the laboratories handling them. -- Miami Herald


A SHOCKER FOR SCIENTISTS

"The main situation has probably existed for years," said the main author of the report, Walter A. Nelson-Rees, a highly respected researcher. ... Nelson-Rees said the contaminating potential of the HeLa cells is well known, but that sufficient precautions against it have apparently not been taken. -- San Francisco Chronicle


All this publicity made no sense to a number of scientists. Why was Nelson-Rees taking bows now when Stan Gartler had dropped the original bomb in 1966?

Part of the reason was that Nelson-Rees's paper was printed in Science, one of the few technical journals that nonscientists, particularly reporters, find accessible. One section, prepared by the journal's news staff, was actually written in English, and in the 7 June 1974 issue, the section carried a story that translated Nelson-Rees's article beautifully. "If Nelson-Rees is right," wrote Barbara Culliton, "a lot of people may have been spending a lot of time and money on misguided research. If, for example, you are studying the properties of human breast tumor cells, hoping to find features that distinguish breast cells from others, and are, all the while, dealing unknowingly with cervical tumor cells, you've got a problem." That was plain enough even for a newspaper reporter to understand, and to embellish and bang out for the morning edition.

But what really made Nelson-Rees a media star was the dramatic background of his shocking results: "The War." In Gartler's day, HeLa contamination had been the dirty little family secret of the tissue culture crowd. Its broader impact was not obvious. In 1974, however, "The War" had been officially declared and raging for several years. Everybody knew that the nation's most brilliant medical experts were at this very moment working feverishly against the scourge of cancer. It was a national priority.

Nelson-Rees's message made this large and serious effort seem a little silly. Sure, the institute was spending millions of dollars sending its brave recruits over the top against the enemy. But it turns out our boys were shooting with blanks!


-- "Goof" Costs 65 Years to Infinity of Cancer Research. Excerpt From: "A Conspiracy of Cells: One Woman's Immortal Legacy and the Medical Scandal It Caused", by Michael Gold


The results were dramatic. In 1996, the New York Times reported that crime had plunged for the third straight year, the sharpest drop since the end of Prohibition. Since 1993, rape rates had dropped 17 percent, assault 27 percent, robbery 42 percent, and murder an astonishing 49 percent. Giuliani was on his way to becoming America's Mayor and Bratton was on the cover of Time. It was a remarkable public policy victory.

Hernandez reveals publicly for the first time that the downgrading of crimes to manipulate statistics allowed a man to commit six sexual assaults in a Washington Heights neighborhood in 2002 before he was finally caught after his seventh attack.

The initial six crimes, committed over a two-month period, went unnoticed by 33rd Precinct detectives, Hernandez says, because patrol supervisors had improperly labeled most of them as misdemeanors. It was only through a lucky break—an alert neighbor spotted the suspect pushing his seventh victim into her apartment—that the rapist, Daryl Thomas, was finally captured.

After his arrest, Hernandez persuaded Thomas to detail his earlier crimes. The detective then combed through stacks of crime complaint reports to identify the pattern of violence.

Hernandez learned that most of the victims' complaints in the prior assaults had been classified as criminal trespassing, so the incidents never reached the detective squad and, in turn, were never declared a pattern, which would have triggered an intense campaign to capture the perpetrator.

He says Thomas told him that with each new assault, his brazenness and level of violence increased: "I asked him, 'Weren't you ever afraid that you would get caught in any of these locations?' He goes 'Nah. I looked around, I never saw any cops,' " Hernandez says. "What they do is continue to hide these complaint reports, and what happens is no one is alerted that they have a serious crime pattern in those areas."

A Manhattan jury convicted Thomas in five cases on first-degree attempted rape, robbery, burglary, and sexual assault charges. He is currently serving a 50-year sentence in a state prison in Romulus, New York.

No police official was ever disciplined for misclassifying the complaints. Not only did Police Commissioner Ray Kelly allow the precinct commander, then Captain Jason Wilcox, to stay on, but he promoted him twice: Wilcox is now an Inspector and the commanding officer of the Manhattan Transit Bureau....

In addition to the Thomas case, the Voice series has documented a policy of refusing to take robbery complaints from some victims, and includes references to a dozen instances of crime complaint manipulation in the 81st Precinct. Subsequent Web reports have contained evidence of additional manipulations. Other Voice Web reports document an attempted rape of the journalist Debbie Nathan that was downgraded to forcible touching in the 34th Precinct, and an attempted armed robbery report that disappeared in the 94th Precinct....

"It made no sense that there was no pattern," Hernandez says. "Then it dawned on me. They [precinct supervisors] are fudging numbers, misclassifying cases. So I start looking."...

But supervisors had made sure that the early reports were shaded to keep them from being filed as serious, felonious crimes. "They look to eliminate certain elements in the narrative. One word or two words can make the charge into a misdemeanor."...

Hernandez found out sometime later that a detective sergeant in the squad had noticed the similarity of the incidents, but when he brought it to the attention of the squad commander and the precinct commander, he was rebuffed.

"He told them, 'You have a predator out there,' and they said, 'Keep your mouth shut,' " Hernandez says. "He told them, 'You keep on believing that, it's going to blow up in your face. And it would get ugly if people found out about it.' They didn't listen."...

Professors John Eterno of Molloy College and Eli Silverman of John Jay College have released a new study based on a survey of hundreds of retired NYPD supervisors, which offers yet more evidence of the practice of downgrading criminal complaints. The study, to be published in the International Journal of Police Science and Management, found that pressure to downgrade crime complaints grew as a result of the CompStat model, which holds precinct commanders accountable for crime in their areas....

Supervisors spoke of precinct commanders going to crime scenes to get the victim to change his story, the survey found....

The Thomas case, Hernandez says, was just one of many questionable things he observed during his career.

He says he had a robbery case that someone downgraded to petit larceny and his signature was forged to make it appear that he himself had downgraded the crime. The forgery was discovered after a paralegal from the Manhattan D.A.'s Office obtained the case file from Police Headquarters in preparation for the trial....

It got to the point, he says, that he would enter the complaints himself into the computer system. But that still didn't solve the problem because precinct supervisors would go back into the system and alter the reports. "Or they would come to me and tell me to change it, and I would refuse because that's not a lawful order," he says. "If that didn't work, they would complain to the squad lieutenant and try to manipulate him."

-- NYPD Tapes 3: A Detective Comes Forward About Downgraded Sexual Assaults, by Graham Rayman


But even more remarkable is what happened next. Shortly after Bratton's star turn, political scientist John DiIulio warned that the echo of the baby boom would soon produce a demographic bulge of millions of young males that he famously dubbed "juvenile super-predators." Other criminologists nodded along. But even though the demographic bulge came right on schedule, crime continued to drop. And drop. And drop. By 2010, violent crime rates in New York City had plunged 75 percent from their peak in the early '90s.

All in all, it seemed to be a story with a happy ending, a triumph for Wilson and Kelling's theory and Giuliani and Bratton's practice. And yet, doubts remained. For one thing, violent crime actually peaked in New York City in 1990, four years before the Giuliani-Bratton era. By the time they took office, it had already dropped 12 percent.

Second, and far more puzzling, it's not just New York that has seen a big drop in crime. In city after city, violent crime peaked in the early '90s and then began a steady and spectacular decline. Washington, DC, didn't have either Giuliani or Bratton, but its violent crime rate has dropped 58 percent since its peak. Dallas' has fallen 70 percent. Newark: 74 percent. Los Angeles: 78 percent.

There must be more going on here than just a change in policing tactics in one city. But what?

Compstat crime reduction efficacy is frequently advocated by police administrators, several of whom moved from the NYPD to head other city police departments. Compstat’s introduction in New Orleans, for example, corresponded with a reported decline in murders from 421 in 1994, diving 55 per cent in 1999 to 162. Minneapolis’s version of Compstat, CODEFOR (Computer Optimised Deployment-focus on Results), has been credited for a double-digit decrease in homicides, aggravated assaults, robberies, burglaries and auto thefts between 1998 and 1999 (Anderson, 2001, p. 4). In 2000, Compstat was introduced in Baltimore by its new chief, a former NYPD deputy police commissioner. By the end of the year, the city experienced below 300 homicides for the first time in 20 years, accompanied by an overall crime drop of 25 per cent (Anderson, p. 4; Clines, 2001, p. 15; Weissenstein, 2003, p. 27). Between 1999 and 2001, Baltimore’s overall violent crime declined 24 per cent, homicides dropped 15 per cent, shootings fell 34 per cent, robberies dropped 28 per cent, rapes 20 per cent and assaults 21 per cent (Henry, 2002, p. 307). Philadelphia’s former police commissioner, another former NYPD deputy police commissioner, attributed a decline in the city’s crime to Compstat-driven policing.

On the other hand, concerns have been raised in many jurisdictions that Compstat has served as a catalyst to inaccurate law enforcement statistical measurement (Long & Silverman, 2005; Manning, 2001; Willis et al., 2003b). When this type of system becomes excessively supervised, whether within a highly centralised organisation or from external political or hierarchical organisations, the consequences can be alarming. Subordinate units will naturally concentrate on those items being measured. Or, as the saying goes, ‘what gets measured gets done’. This can lead to crime statistics manipulation and/or downgrading, which has been reported in numerous locales including Philadelphia, Atlanta (Hart, 2004, p. 6), New Orleans (Ritea, 2003a, p. 1, 2003b, p. 1), New York (Gardiner & Levitt, 2003, p. 8; Parascandola & Levitt, 2004, p. 5) and Broward County, Florida (Hernandez, O’Boye, & O’Neill, 2004, p. 9). In Philadelphia, charges of altered crime reports emerged after the police department introduced Compstat. ‘If a person was punched in the eye, it might have been written up as a hospital report, so it didn’t reflect a crime had occurred’, reported one Philadelphia police official (Webber & Robinson, 2003).

-- The NYPD’s Compstat: compare statistics or compose statistics?, by John A. Eterno and Eli B. Silverman


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Illustration: Gérard DuBois

THERE ARE, IT TURNS OUT, plenty of theories. When I started research for this story, I worked my way through a pair of thick criminology tomes. One chapter regaled me with the "exciting possibility" that it's mostly a matter of economics: Crime goes down when the economy is booming and goes up when it's in a slump. Unfortunately, the theory doesn't seem to hold water—for example, crime rates have continued to drop recently despite our prolonged downturn.

Another chapter suggested that crime drops in big cities were mostly a reflection of the crack epidemic of the '80s finally burning itself out. A trio of authors identified three major "drug eras" in New York City, the first dominated by heroin, which produced limited violence, and the second by crack, which generated spectacular levels of it. In the early '90s, these researchers proposed, the children of CrackGen switched to marijuana, choosing a less violent and more law-abiding lifestyle. As they did, crime rates in New York and other cities went down.

Another chapter told a story of demographics: As the number of young men increases, so does crime. Unfortunately for this theory, the number of young men increased during the '90s, but crime dropped anyway.

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Chart: The PB Effect
Top: Rick Nevin, USGS, DOJ


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Bottom: Rick Nevin, Guttmacher Institute, CDC

There were chapters in my tomes on the effect of prison expansion. On guns and gun control. On family. On race. On parole and probation. On the raw number of police officers. It seemed as if everyone had a pet theory. In 1999, economist Steven Levitt, later famous as the coauthor of Freakonomics, teamed up with John Donohue to suggest that crime dropped because of Roe v. Wade; legalized abortion, they argued, led to fewer unwanted babies, which meant fewer maladjusted and violent young men two decades later.

But there's a problem common to all of these theories: It's hard to tease out actual proof. Maybe the end of the crack epidemic contributed to a decline in inner-city crime, but then again, maybe it was really the effect of increased incarceration, more cops on the beat, broken-windows policing, and a rise in abortion rates 20 years earlier. After all, they all happened at the same time.

To address this problem, the field of econometrics gives researchers an enormous toolbox of sophisticated statistical techniques. But, notes statistician and conservative commentator Jim Manzi in his recent book Uncontrolled, econometrics consistently fails to explain most of the variation in crime rates. After reviewing 122 known field tests, Manzi found that only 20 percent demonstrated positive results for specific crime-fighting strategies, and none of those positive results were replicated in follow-up studies.

So we're back to square one. More prisons might help control crime, more cops might help, and better policing might help. But the evidence is thin for any of these as the main cause. What are we missing?

Experts often suggest that crime resembles an epidemic. But what kind? Karl Smith, a professor of public economics and government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has a good rule of thumb for categorizing epidemics: If it spreads along lines of communication, he says, the cause is information. Think Bieber Fever. If it travels along major transportation routes, the cause is microbial. Think influenza. If it spreads out like a fan, the cause is an insect. Think malaria. But if it's everywhere, all at once—as both the rise of crime in the '60s and '70s and the fall of crime in the '90s seemed to be—the cause is a molecule.

A molecule? That sounds crazy. What molecule could be responsible for a steep and sudden decline in violent crime?

Well, here's one possibility: Pb(CH2CH3)4.

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Chart: Did Lead Make You Dumber?
Rick Nevin/CDC


IN 1994, RICK NEVIN WAS A CONSULTANT working for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development on the costs and benefits of removing lead paint from old houses. This has been a topic of intense study because of the growing body of research linking lead exposure in small children with a whole raft of complications later in life, including lower IQ, hyperactivity, behavioral problems, and learning disabilities.

But as Nevin was working on that assignment, his client suggested they might be missing something. A recent study had suggested a link between childhood lead exposure and juvenile delinquency later on. Maybe reducing lead exposure had an effect on violent crime too?

That tip took Nevin in a different direction. The biggest source of lead in the postwar era, it turns out, wasn't paint. It was leaded gasoline. And if you chart the rise and fall of atmospheric lead caused by the rise and fall of leaded gasoline consumption, you get a pretty simple upside-down U: Lead emissions from tailpipes rose steadily from the early '40s through the early '70s, nearly quadrupling over that period. Then, as unleaded gasoline began to replace leaded gasoline, emissions plummeted.

Gasoline lead may explain as much as 90 percent of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century.


Intriguingly, violent crime rates followed the same upside-down U pattern. The only thing different was the time period: Crime rates rose dramatically in the '60s through the '80s, and then began dropping steadily starting in the early '90s. The two curves looked eerily identical, but were offset by about 20 years.

So Nevin dove in further, digging up detailed data on lead emissions and crime rates to see if the similarity of the curves was as good as it seemed. It turned out to be even better: In a 2000 paper (PDF) he concluded that if you add a lag time of 23 years, lead emissions from automobiles explain 90 percent of the variation in violent crime in America. Toddlers who ingested high levels of lead in the '40s and '50s really were more likely to become violent criminals in the '60s, '70s, and '80s.

And with that we have our molecule: tetraethyl lead, the gasoline additive invented by General Motors in the 1920s to prevent knocking and pinging in high-performance engines. As auto sales boomed after World War II, and drivers in powerful new cars increasingly asked service station attendants to "fill 'er up with ethyl," they were unwittingly creating a crime wave two decades later.

It was an exciting conjecture, and it prompted an immediate wave of…nothing. Nevin's paper was almost completely ignored, and in one sense it's easy to see why—Nevin is an economist, not a criminologist, and his paper was published in Environmental Research, not a journal with a big readership in the criminology community. What's more, a single correlation between two curves isn't all that impressive, econometrically speaking. Sales of vinyl LPs rose in the postwar period too, and then declined in the '80s and '90s. Lots of things follow a pattern like that. So no matter how good the fit, if you only have a single correlation it might just be a coincidence. You need to do something more to establish causality.

As it turns out, however, a few hundred miles north someone was doing just that. In the late '90s, Jessica Wolpaw Reyes was a graduate student at Harvard casting around for a dissertation topic that eventually became a study she published in 2007 as a public health policy professor at Amherst. "I learned about lead because I was pregnant and living in old housing in Harvard Square," she told me, and after attending a talk where future Freakonomics star Levitt outlined his abortion/crime theory, she started thinking about lead and crime. Although the association seemed plausible, she wanted to find out whether increased lead exposure caused increases in crime. But how?

In states where consumption of leaded gasoline declined slowly, crime declined slowly. Where it declined quickly, crime declined quickly.


The answer, it turned out, involved "several months of cold calling" to find lead emissions data at the state level. During the '70s and '80s, the introduction of the catalytic converter, combined with increasingly stringent Environmental Protection Agency rules, steadily reduced the amount of leaded gasoline used in America, but Reyes discovered that this reduction wasn't uniform. In fact, use of leaded gasoline varied widely among states, and this gave Reyes the opening she needed. If childhood lead exposure really did produce criminal behavior in adults, you'd expect that in states where consumption of leaded gasoline declined slowly, crime would decline slowly too. Conversely, in states where it declined quickly, crime would decline quickly. And that's exactly what she found.

Meanwhile, Nevin had kept busy as well, and in 2007 he published a new paper looking at crime trends around the world (PDF). This way, he could make sure the close match he'd found between the lead curve and the crime curve wasn't just a coincidence. Sure, maybe the real culprit in the United States was something else happening at the exact same time, but what are the odds of that same something happening at several different times in several different countries?

Nevin collected lead data and crime data for Australia and found a close match. Ditto for Canada. And Great Britain and Finland and France and Italy and New Zealand and West Germany. Every time, the two curves fit each other astonishingly well. When I spoke to Nevin about this, I asked him if he had ever found a country that didn't fit the theory. "No," he replied. "Not one."

In Australia, Compstat-like performance management systems were also modelled after New York’s Compstat. Queensland’s Police Service version of Compstat is known as Operational Performance Review (OPR). One study found the introduction of OPR ‘associated with a significant decrease in the total number of reported offences’ (Mazerolle, Rombouts, & McBroom, 2007).

The country’s largest police force, the New South Wales police, developed its Operations and Crime Review (OCR) management system after visits to NYPD’s Compstat (Davis & Coleman, 2000). A previous commissioner stressed that OCR policing is data driven, ‘uncompromising difficult and stressful’ (Ryan, 2000 cited in Kennedy 2010).

Like elsewhere, Australian performance-based policing is controversial. On the one hand, for example, two Australian scholars’ evaluation of the OCR found this process to be effective in reducing three of the four offence categories studied (Chilvers & Weatherburn, 2004). Yet a 2000 evaluation by an independent consulting group (Hay Group Consulting Consortium, 2000) found communication to be largely a one-way process with little feedback to commanders, ‘reinforcing the culture of fear and punishment’. The following year, the deputy commissioner resigned after he announced that crime was falling when the Bureau of Crime Statistics said it was increasing (Kennedy, 2000, p. 27).

Australia’s National Uniform Crime Statistics Committee reported variations in crime statistics due to ‘. . . the extent of unreported crime; inadequacies in offence definitions, counting rules and offence classifications; procedural differences such as the offences under which an offender may be charged; differences in the way statistics are compiled as a result of the lack of uniformity in systems used and noncompliance with the rules governing the collation of statistics’ (Hallam, 2009, p. 55) Carach and Makkai (2002) found that recorded crime statistics in the State of Victoria varied depending on whether an evidential or prima facie approach was applied by officers involved in the crime recording process.

-- The NYPD’s Compstat: compare statistics or compose statistics?, by John A. Eterno and Eli B. Silverman


Just this year, Tulane University researcher Howard Mielke published a paper with demographer Sammy Zahran on the correlation of lead and crime at the city level. They studied six US cities that had both good crime data and good lead data going back to the '50s, and they found a good fit in every single one. In fact, Mielke has even studied lead concentrations at the neighborhood level in New Orleans and shared his maps with the local police. "When they overlay them with crime maps," he told me, "they realize they match up."

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Put all this together and you have an astonishing body of evidence. We now have studies at the international level, the national level, the state level, the city level, and even the individual level. Groups of children have been followed from the womb to adulthood, and higher childhood blood lead levels are consistently associated with higher adult arrest rates for violent crimes. All of these studies tell the same story: Gasoline lead is responsible for a good share of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century.

When differences of atmospheric lead density between big and small cities largely went away, so did the difference in murder rates.


Like many good theories, the gasoline lead hypothesis helps explain some things we might not have realized even needed explaining. For example, murder rates have always been higher in big cities than in towns and small cities. We're so used to this that it seems unsurprising, but Nevin points out that it might actually have a surprising explanation—because big cities have lots of cars in a small area, they also had high densities of atmospheric lead during the postwar era. But as lead levels in gasoline decreased, the differences between big and small cities largely went away. And guess what? The difference in murder rates went away too. Today, homicide rates are similar in cities of all sizes. It may be that violent crime isn't an inevitable consequence of being a big city after all.

The gasoline lead story has another virtue too: It's the only hypothesis that persuasively explains both the rise of crime in the '60s and '70s and its fall beginning in the '90s. Two other theories—the baby boom demographic bulge and the drug explosion of the '60s—at least have the potential to explain both, but neither one fully fits the known data. Only gasoline lead, with its dramatic rise and fall following World War II, can explain the equally dramatic rise and fall in violent crime.

IF ECONOMETRIC STUDIES WERE ALL THERE were to the story of lead, you'd be justified in remaining skeptical no matter how good the statistics look. Even when researchers do their best—controlling for economic growth, welfare payments, race, income, education level, and everything else they can think of—it's always possible that something they haven't thought of is still lurking in the background. But there's another reason to take the lead hypothesis seriously, and it might be the most compelling one of all: Neurological research is demonstrating that lead's effects are even more appalling, more permanent, and appear at far lower levels than we ever thought. For starters, it turns out that childhood lead exposure at nearly any level can seriously and permanently reduce IQ. Blood lead levels are measured in micrograms per deciliter, and levels once believed safe—65 μg/dL, then 25, then 15, then 10—are now known to cause serious damage. The EPA now says flatly that there is "no demonstrated safe concentration of lead in blood," and it turns out that even levels under 10 μg/dL can reduce IQ by as much as seven points. An estimated 2.5 percent of children nationwide have lead levels above 5 μg/dL.

But we now know that lead's effects go far beyond just IQ. Not only does lead promote apoptosis, or cell death, in the brain, but the element is also chemically similar to calcium. When it settles in cerebral tissue, it prevents calcium ions from doing their job, something that causes physical damage to the developing brain that persists into adulthood.

Only in the last few years have we begun to understand exactly what effects this has. A team of researchers at the University of Cincinnati has been following a group of 300 children for more than 30 years and recently performed a series of MRI scans that highlighted the neurological differences between subjects who had high and low exposure to lead during early childhood.

High childhood exposure damages a part of the brain linked to aggression control. The impact is greater among boys.


One set of scans found that lead exposure is linked to production of the brain's white matter—primarily a substance called myelin, which forms an insulating sheath around the connections between neurons. Lead exposure degrades both the formation and structure of myelin, and when this happens, says Kim Dietrich, one of the leaders of the imaging studies, "neurons are not communicating effectively." Put simply, the network connections within the brain become both slower and less coordinated.

A second study found that high exposure to lead during childhood was linked to a permanent loss of gray matter in the prefrontal cortex—a part of the brain associated with aggression control as well as what psychologists call "executive functions": emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility. One way to understand this, says Kim Cecil, another member of the Cincinnati team, is that lead affects precisely the areas of the brain "that make us most human."

So lead is a double whammy: It impairs specific parts of the brain responsible for executive functions and it impairs the communication channels between these parts of the brain. For children like the ones in the Cincinnati study, who were mostly inner-city kids with plenty of strikes against them already, lead exposure was, in Cecil's words, an "additional kick in the gut." And one more thing: Although both sexes are affected by lead, the neurological impact turns out to be greater among boys than girls.

Other recent studies link even minuscule blood lead levels with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Even at concentrations well below those usually considered safe—levels still common today—lead increases the odds of kids developing ADHD.

In other words, as Reyes summarized the evidence in her paper, even moderately high levels of lead exposure are associated with aggressivity, impulsivity, ADHD, and lower IQ. And right there, you've practically defined the profile of a violent young offender.

The man sitting across from Hernandez didn't fit the stereotype of a sex offender. Thomas helped manage a computer system at a Manhattan law firm. He had a wife and a daughter, and they all lived in the same neighborhood where the attack had taken place.

-- NYPD Tapes 3: A Detective Comes Forward About Downgraded Sexual Assaults, by Graham Rayman


Needless to say, not every child exposed to lead is destined for a life of crime. Everyone over the age of 40 was probably exposed to too much lead during childhood, and most of us suffered nothing more than a few points of IQ loss. But there were plenty of kids already on the margin, and millions of those kids were pushed over the edge from being merely slow or disruptive to becoming part of a nationwide epidemic of violent crime. Once you understand that, it all becomes blindingly obvious. Of course massive lead exposure among children of the postwar era led to larger numbers of violent criminals in the '60s and beyond. And of course when that lead was removed in the '70s and '80s, the children of that generation lost those artificially heightened violent tendencies.

Police chiefs want to think what they do on a daily basis matters. And it does. But maybe not as much as they think.


But if all of this solves one mystery, it shines a high-powered klieg light on another: Why has the lead/crime connection been almost completely ignored in the criminology community? In the two big books I mentioned earlier, one has no mention of lead at all and the other has a grand total of two passing references. Nevin calls it "exasperating" that crime researchers haven't seriously engaged with lead, and Reyes told me that although the public health community was interested in her paper, criminologists have largely been AWOL. When I asked Sammy Zahran about the reaction to his paper with Howard Mielke on correlations between lead and crime at the city level, he just sighed. "I don't think criminologists have even read it," he said. All of this jibes with my own reporting. Before he died last year, James Q. Wilson—father of the broken-windows theory, and the dean of the criminology community—had begun to accept that lead probably played a meaningful role in the crime drop of the '90s. But he was apparently an outlier. None of the criminology experts I contacted showed any interest in the lead hypothesis at all.

Why not? Mark Kleiman, a public policy professor at the University of California-Los Angeles who has studied promising methods of controlling crime, suggests that because criminologists are basically sociologists, they look for sociological explanations, not medical ones. My own sense is that interest groups probably play a crucial role: Political conservatives want to blame the social upheaval of the '60s for the rise in crime that followed. Police unions have reasons for crediting its decline to an increase in the number of cops. Prison guards like the idea that increased incarceration is the answer. Drug warriors want the story to be about drug policy. If the actual answer turns out to be lead poisoning, they all lose a big pillar of support for their pet issue. And while lead abatement could be big business for contractors and builders, for some reason their trade groups have never taken it seriously.

More generally, we all have a deep stake in affirming the power of deliberate human action. When Reyes once presented her results to a conference of police chiefs, it was, unsurprisingly, a tough sell. "They want to think that what they do on a daily basis matters," she says. "And it does." But it may not matter as much as they think.

SO IS THIS ALL JUST AN INTERESTING history lesson? After all, leaded gasoline has been banned since 1996, so even if it had a major impact on violent crime during the 20th century, there's nothing more to be done on that front. Right?

Wrong. As it turns out, tetraethyl lead is like a zombie that refuses to die. Our cars may be lead-free today, but they spent more than 50 years spewing lead from their tailpipes, and all that lead had to go somewhere. And it did: It settled permanently into the soil that we walk on, grow our food in, and let our kids play around.

That's especially true in the inner cores of big cities, which had the highest density of automobile traffic. Mielke has been studying lead in soil for years, focusing most of his attention on his hometown of New Orleans, and he's measured 10 separate census tracts there with lead levels over 1,000 parts per million.

To get a sense of what this means, you have to look at how soil levels of lead typically correlate with blood levels, which are what really matter. Mielke has studied this in New Orleans, and it turns out that the numbers go up very fast even at low levels. Children who live in neighborhoods with a soil level of 100 ppm have average blood lead concentrations of 3.8 μg/dL—a level that's only barely tolerable. At 500 ppm, blood levels go up to 5.9 μg/dL, and at 1,000 ppm they go up to 7.5 μg/dL. These levels are high enough to do serious damage.

"I know people who have move into gentrified neighborhoods and renovate everything. They create huge hazards for their kids."


Mielke's partner, Sammy Zahran, walked me through a lengthy—and hair-raising—presentation about the effect that all that old gasoline lead continues to have in New Orleans. The very first slide describes the basic problem: Lead in soil doesn't stay in the soil. Every summer, like clockwork, as the weather dries up, all that lead gets kicked back into the atmosphere in a process called resuspension. The zombie lead is back to haunt us.

Mark Laidlaw, a doctoral student who has worked with Mielke, explains how this works: People and pets track lead dust from soil into houses, where it's ingested by small children via hand-to-mouth contact. Ditto for lead dust generated by old paint inside houses. This dust cocktail is where most lead exposure today comes from.

Paint hasn't played a big role in our story so far, but that's only because it didn't play a big role in the rise of crime in the postwar era and its subsequent fall. Unlike gasoline lead, lead paint was a fairly uniform problem during this period, producing higher overall lead levels, especially in inner cities, but not changing radically over time. (It's a different story with the first part of the 20th century, when use of lead paint did rise and then fall somewhat dramatically. Sure enough, murder rates rose and fell in tandem.)

And just like gasoline lead, a lot of that lead in old housing is still around. Lead paint chips flaking off of walls are one obvious source of lead exposure, but an even bigger one, says Rick Nevin, are old windows. Their friction surfaces generate lots of dust as they're opened and closed. (Other sources—lead pipes and solder, leaded fuel used in private aviation, and lead smelters—account for far less.)

We know that the cost of all this lead is staggering, not just in lower IQs, delayed development, and other health problems, but in increased rates of violent crime as well. So why has it been so hard to get it taken seriously?

There are several reasons. One of them was put bluntly by Herbert Needleman, one of the pioneers of research into the effect of lead on behavior. A few years ago, a reporter from the Baltimore City Paper asked him why so little progress had been made recently on combating the lead-poisoning problem. "Number one," he said without hesitation, "it's a black problem." But it turns out that this is an outdated idea. Although it's true that lead poisoning affects low-income neighborhoods disproportionately, it affects plenty of middle-class and rich neighborhoods as well. "It's not just a poor-inner-city-kid problem anymore," Nevin says. "I know people who have moved into gentrified neighborhoods and immediately renovate everything. And they create huge hazards for their kids."

Tamara Rubin, who lives in a middle-class neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, learned this the hard way when two of her children developed lead poisoning after some routine home improvement in 2005. A few years later, Rubin started the Lead Safe America Foundation, which advocates for lead abatement and lead testing. Her message: If you live in an old neighborhood or an old house, get tested. And if you renovate, do it safely.

Another reason that lead doesn't get the attention it deserves is that too many people think the problem was solved years ago. They don't realize how much lead is still hanging around, and they don't understand just how much it costs us.

It's difficult to put firm numbers to the costs and benefits of lead abatement. But for a rough idea, let's start with the two biggest costs. Nevin estimates that there are perhaps 16 million pre-1960 houses with lead-painted windows, and replacing them all would cost something like $10 billion per year over 20 years. Soil cleanup in the hardest-hit urban neighborhoods is tougher to get a handle on, with estimates ranging from $2 to $36 per square foot. A rough extrapolation from Mielke's estimate to clean up New Orleans suggests that a nationwide program might cost another $10 billion per year.

We can either get rid of the remaining lead, or we can wait 20 years and then lock up all the kids who've turned into criminals.


So in round numbers that's about $20 billion per year for two decades. But the benefits would be huge. Let's just take a look at the two biggest ones. By Mielke and Zahran's estimates, if we adopted the soil standard of a country like Norway (roughly 100 ppm or less), it would bring about $30 billion in annual returns from the cognitive benefits alone (higher IQs, and the resulting higher lifetime earnings). Cleaning up old windows might double this. And violent crime reduction would be an even bigger benefit. Estimates here are even more difficult, but Mark Kleiman suggests that a 10 percent drop in crime—a goal that seems reasonable if we get serious about cleaning up the last of our lead problem—could produce benefits as high as $150 billion per year.

Put this all together and the benefits of lead cleanup could be in the neighborhood of $200 billion per year. In other words, an annual investment of $20 billion for 20 years could produce returns of 10-to-1 every single year for decades to come. Those are returns that Wall Street hedge funds can only dream of.

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There's a flip side to this too. At the same time that we should reassess the low level of attention we pay to the remaining hazards from lead, we should probably also reassess the high level of attention we're giving to other policies. Chief among these is the prison-building boom that started in the mid-'70s. As crime scholar William Spelman wrote a few years ago, states have "doubled their prison populations, then doubled them again, increasing their costs by more than $20 billion per year"—money that could have been usefully spent on a lot of other things. And while some scholars conclude that the prison boom had an effect on crime, recent research suggests that rising incarceration rates suffer from diminishing returns: Putting more criminals behind bars is useful up to a point, but beyond that we're just locking up more people without having any real impact on crime. What's more, if it's true that lead exposure accounts for a big part of the crime decline that we formerly credited to prison expansion and other policies, those diminishing returns might be even more dramatic than we believe. We probably overshot on prison construction years ago; one doubling might have been enough. Not only should we stop adding prison capacity, but we might be better off returning to the incarceration rates we reached in the mid-'80s.

So this is the choice before us: We can either attack crime at its root by getting rid of the remaining lead in our environment, or we can continue our current policy of waiting 20 years and then locking up all the lead-poisoned kids who have turned into criminals. There's always an excuse not to spend more money on a policy as tedious-sounding as lead abatement—budgets are tight, and research on a problem as complex as crime will never be definitive—but the association between lead and crime has, in recent years, become pretty overwhelming. If you gave me the choice, right now, of spending $20 billion less on prisons and cops and spending $20 billion more on getting rid of lead, I'd take the deal in a heartbeat. Not only would solving our lead problem do more than any prison to reduce our crime problem, it would produce smarter, better-adjusted kids in the bargain. There's nothing partisan about this, nothing that should appeal more to one group than another. It's just common sense. Cleaning up the rest of the lead that remains in our environment could turn out to be the cheapest, most effective crime prevention tool we have. And we could start doing it tomorrow.

Support for this story was provided by a grant from the Puffin Foundation Investigative Journalism Project.
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Re: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on Bill Clinton & BLM

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Group rallies for Toledo anti-gang march
July 27, 2014

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Re: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on Bill Clinton & BLM

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Shooting Stars-Anti-Gang Community Outreach Program
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Re: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on Bill Clinton & BLM

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Inflammatory Meet The Press Guest Uses Michael Brown Shooting To Mislead On Criminal Justice Racism
by Timothy Johnson
August 17, 2014

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Heather MacDonald, Manhattan Institute

National Review Online contributor Heather Mac Donald falsely said there is no evidence "that the overrepresentation of blacks in prison or arrest statistics is a result of criminal justice racism," while on NBC's Meet the Press. In fact, studies have found "conclusively" that disproportionate incarceration for African Americans is attributed to "racial bias."

Mac Donald has a history of racially inflammatory comments, including claiming that young African-American males have a "lack of self-discipline"; that it is "common sense that black students are more likely to be disruptive" than white students; and that black men possess a "lack of impulse control that results in ... mindless violence on the streets."

Still, the August 17 edition of Meet the Press turned to Mac Donald to discuss fallout from the fatal shooting of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, MO. In a taped segment, Deadspin.com's Greg Howard argued that "It's physically easier for a police officer to weigh what a black man's life is worth and to end up feeling that he is justified in pulling the trigger." Mac Donald was then presented as a counterpoint, to claim there is no evidence of racial bias in the criminal justice system:


MAC DONALD: The criminology profession has been trying for decades to prove that the overrepresentation of blacks in prison or in arrest statistics is a result of criminal justice racism. It is black crime rates that predict the presence of blacks in the criminal justice system, not some miscarriage of justice.


Due to a lack of information from local authorities it is still unclear what, if any, crime the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown believed Brown was committing, and whether such use of force was a necessary or appropriate response. However, research indicates that nationally, African-Americans are arrested and incarnated at rates that cannot be explained by crime rates.

For example, a recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union found that even though African-Americans and whites use marijuana at approximately the same rate, African-Americans are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. ACLU found that in some communities, African-Americans were arrested for possession 30 times more often.

Research from Human Rights Watch also found that African-Americans were disproportionately arrested on drug charges "in every year from 1980 through 2007":

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3. MYTH. JUSTICE IS APPLIED EQUALLY.
REALITY: Crime prevention and enforcement policies target people of color disproportionately.
BLACKS WERE ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES 2.8 TO 5.5 TIMES HIGHER THAN WHITES IN EVERY YEAR FROM 1980 THROUGH 2007.


The trend holds true for juvenile arrests as well. According to Rebuild the Dream President Van Jones, Department of Justice statistics indicate that "African American youth arrest rates for drug violations, assaults and weapon offenses are higher than arrest rates for white youth -- even though both report similar rates of delinquency."

Numerous studies have found that African-Americans are sentenced to longer prison terms compared to whites when committing the same crime. According to a 2012 study by law professors at University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago, and Harvard University, the sentencing discrepancies can "conclusively" be attributed to "racial bias."
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Re: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on Bill Clinton & BLM

Postby admin » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:02 am

Marc Lamont Hill slaps down Bill Clinton's arguments hard after his #BlackLivesMatter meltdown
By Frank Vyan Walton
Apr 08, 2016

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As we all know Bill Clinton completely lost his cool when confronted by #BLM over the consequences his 90’s crime bill. So far many of the pro-Clinton arguments have been that Bernie Sanders also supported the bill and voted for it to claim that it was responsible for the major drop in crime that has occurred since that time. President Clinton himself argued in support of his wife Secretary Clinton ‘Super-predators” using two egregious strawmen, 1) that the bill was focused on inner-city drug kingpins who used 13-year-olds as their murderous foot soldiers instead to massively incarcerating thousands of non-violent low-level drug offenders for decades longer than whites who were caught with the exact same amount of drugs by a 100-to-1 disparity and 2) that anyone who complains about that fact really doesn’t care about dead black kids who haven’t been killed by cops.

Well, Mark Lamont Hill expertly shut all that bullcrap down today on CNN when debating a particularly noxious surrogate for Bill’s point of view Heather MacDonald. [No, She’s not from wife’s campaign from what I can tell.].

Just to level set, this is what we’re really talking about.

Congress did a serious injustice when it imposed much tougher penalties on defendants convicted of selling the crack form of cocaine — the kind most often used in impoverished, minority communities — than on those caught selling the powdered form of the drug that is popular with more upscale users.

In what’s known as the 100-to-1 rule, federal law mandates a 10-year sentence for anyone caught with 50 grams of crack, about the weight of a candy bar. To get a comparable sentence, a dealer selling powdered cocaine would have to be caught with 5,000 grams, enough to fill a briefcase.

The federal crack statute was passed during the height of the so-called crack epidemic of the 1980s, when it was widely, but mistakenly, believed that the crack form of the drug was more dangerous than the chemically identical powdered form. Congress compounded the inequity by making crack cocaine the only drug that carries a mandatory minimum sentence for possession, even for first-time offenders. Laws that were supposed to focus federal efforts on locking up drug kingpins have swamped federal courts with small-time cases, many involving couriers and street-corner sellers.

The United States Sentencing Commission, the bipartisan body that sets guidelines for federal prison sentences, urged Congress to eliminate the sentencing disparity more than a decade ago. The commission recently established new guidelines that would provide more lenient sentencing for crack offenses.


Here’s how Hill responded to the claim that the Crime Bill fostered the kind of police success we saw in New York using statistical methods such as CompStat.



Hill: But the crime bill wasn’t about a policing revolution of information, it was about police revolution of aggressive policing, over-incarceration, draconian sentencing, and racial disparate treatment, that was the issue here. And yes, we should address black people who kill black people, that’s not the point. We’re not out here protesting black people who kill black people all the time because I don’t have the same expectation for the Bloods and Crips as I do police. I expect police to NOT shoot me. I expect police not to be the judge, jury and executioner on the open street. I expect politicians to engage in humane public policy making and that’s not what has happened. And that’s where Hillary Clinton must be held responsible.

Once again, not to avoid responsibility and make it look like any black person that criticizes her somehow doesn’t care about safety or crime in the community is another irresponsible and dishonest move by the Clinton’s that I find so profoundly frustrating.


Which I think speaks for me quite well. In full disclosure I supported the Clinton Crime Bill which included the assault weapons ban and his 100,000 Cops initiative. It all seemed like a good idea at the time, it just didn’t work out as planned.

Following Hill’s statement MacDonald attempted to make the claim that…

The representation of blacks in prison is due to crime rates, there is not disparate treatment in the criminal justice system. Police go where the crime is, they wish they didn’t need to go into these neighborhoods but they there to save lives not to oppress people.


Which is frankly, Bullshit! And Hill responded predictably.

Hill: That’s simply not true.


Unfortunately that little cop-oganda bomb was dropped right at the end of segment and he wasn’t able to follow up however even the data from CompStat shows that using NYPD “Stop and Frisk” policy, which she is expressly defending, almost 90% of those targeted by police in these stops had Done. Nothing. Wrong.

In 2012, New Yorkers were stopped by police 532,911 times. In 55 percent of the cases, the suspect was black and in 10 percent of the cases, the suspect was white. In 89 percent of the cases, "the suspect was innocent," said the NYCLU.

Similarly in 2011, 53 percent of New Yorkers who were stopped and frisked by police were black, and 9 percent were white. In 2010, 54 percent of New Yorkers who were stopped and frisked were black, and 9 percent were white.

Approximately 90 percent of New Yorkers who were stopped and frisked between 2010 and 2012 were "totally innocent," according to the NYCLU's analysis.


A program with a 90% failure rate really isn’t something anyone, anywhere, should be endorsing.

Further in certain neighborhoods such as Brownsville, Brooklyn the equivalent of 93% of the residents have been stopped but in reality a subset of young male blacks have been stopped over and over and over again, some as many as 20 times.



This is harassment, this IS Oppression. Text book definition.

What’s even worse is the excuse is that this is being done “protect those communities” by removing drugs and guns but even the NYPD found almost twice as many guns among the minuscule number of whites they stopped.

The NYPD and politicians have repeatedly justified the racial disparity in stop and frisks saying that they cops essentially go where the guns are, i.e. minority neighborhoods. Yet, only 1.9 percent of frisks in 2011 turned up weapons and interestingly, according to the NYCLU, “a weapon was found in only 1.8 percent of blacks and Latinos frisked, as compared to a weapon being found in 3.8 percent of whites frisked.”


And it’s not just in New York.

Image
TABLE 13: Enforcement actions taken by police during traffic stops, by demographic characteristics of drivers, 2008
Police Stop Data from Bureau of Justice Statistics


As shown by the chart above nationwide, police stop black motorists twice as often regardless of the likelihood of having committed a driving offense. They search them three times as much yet don’t find drugs on them as often.

For years, police records have shown that black drivers tend to be less likely than white drivers to turn up with guns or drugs when searched at traffic stops. At the same time, black drivers are three times more likely than white drivers to be subjected to these searches, according to a 2013 federal survey.


They also ticket Black drivers twice as often and resort to non-lethal uses of force against them three times more often as shown here.

Image
TABLE 18: Contacts with police in which force was used or threatened, by demographic characteristics, 2002, 2005, and 2008
Police Use of Force


And then Police kill black men, even when they’re unarmed, about four times more often.

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Estimated Rate of Arrest-Related Deaths by Homicide, 2003-09
Arrest Related Deaths by Race


There are no crime stats that support any of this, besides the fact almost everyone distorts those completely out of wack, because quite often it’s happening from the stops, to the searches, assaults and killings to people who are less likely to have done anything wrong but are being targeted anyway, which is the very definition of “disparate treatment” and when people shout about it, it certain can be annoying and frustrating to listen to. They can get on your nerves. It can make you mad and you might lash out as did Bill Clinton, even though today he seems to have “almost” apologized for it. I don’t blame him for getting upset, I get that.

But People shout this because if they don’t it seems pretty clear just about no one listens, and just about no one does anything about it. At least not yet they haven’t.

Friday, Apr 8, 2016 · 3:41:08 PM PDT · Frank Vyan Walton
This is a longer version of the segment, warning — please try not to punch the screen as the Clintonite/Cop-ologist Heather McDonald is talking. You’ll just hurt your screen, and your hand.


Friday, Apr 8, 2016 · 5:59:17 PM USMST · Frank Vyan Walton
More details of Bill’s “Apology”.


“Now I like and believe in protests. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t cause I engaged in some when I was a kid,” Clinton told a crowd of more than 1,000 on the campus of Penn State Behrend. “But I never thought I should drown anybody else out. And I confess, maybe it’s just a sign of old age, but it bothers me now when that happens.”

“So I did something yesterday in Philadelphia. I almost want to apologize for it, but I want to use it as an example of the danger threatening our country,” the former president continued. [...]

“I rather vigorously defended my wife, as I am want to do, and I realized, finally, I was talking past [the protester] the way she was talking past me. We gotta stop that in this country. We gotta listen to each other again,” the former president said.

[...]

“I know those young people yesterday were just trying to get good television and they did. But that doesn’t mean that I was most effective in answering it,” Clinton said.

And he suggested the activists were on his side. “We can’t be fighting our friends, we got enough trouble with the people that aren’t for us,” he added, presumably referring to Republicans.


I thinks he makes, ultimately, a great point about “talking past other” — clearly his point about the crack-dealer was irrelevant to BLM’s point that Cops will stop, harass, frisk, assault and kill the dealers neighbor who has nothing to do with that guy without blinking or even recognizing their mistake.

You don’t have to be pro-drug dealer to oppose the not-dealer getting killed by cops.

I grew up in South Central, i *was* that guys neighbor and I repeated saw the police ignore them — literally drive right past them without stopping — but they would stop me, over and over again because I had a decent paying job and bought a decent looking car in that neighborhood. So I GOT THE COPS ATTENTION but the drug dealers next door didn’t. I’ve lived that, and anyone that has knows he was full of it. But I do appreciate he — kinda — knows he was full of it as he got worked up trying to defend Hillary circa 1994.

Saturday, Apr 9, 2016 · 1:43:47 AM USMST · Frank Vyan Walton

As posted in the comments Van Jones was also pretty hot about this, and has apparently been angry with Clinton since his “Sista Soldja” moment. Some of Bob Beckle’s reactions and eye-rolls are priceless.



Saturday, Apr 9, 2016 · 1:53:19 AM USMST · Frank Vyan Walton

The “Stop the Violence” movement was started in 1989 by KRS-One, as Van Jones points out they’ve been around but they get ignored. What #BLM has figured out is something they haven’t — how. to. get. coverage. And the truly sad fact, honestly, is that if they didn’t resort to lengths they have — nobody would be talking about them the same way they don’t talk about KRS-One or even the “Self-Destruction” video he wrote.



Saturday, Apr 9, 2016 · 2:01:19 AM USMST · Frank Vyan Walton

Instead of the above what we got back then was all the hysteria over Cop Killer by Bodycount. The reaction #BLM is getting now is the same one that Ice-T received back then.

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Re: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on Bill Clinton & BLM

Postby admin » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:09 am

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
by Ring Wing Watch
April 15, 2016

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The Manhattan Institute is an increasingly prominent conservative think-tank that promotes limited government and free-market idealism. The organization has attacked minority-focused policies including affirmative action, civil rights initiatives, and immigrant support programs as obstacles to full social integration and to the benefits of the market system. The Institute heavily promotes school vouchers, saying that competition as the best way to improve public schools.

52 Vanderbilt Avenue
New York, NY 10017
212-599-7000
http://www.manhattan-institute.org

Chairman: Dietrich Weismann

President: Lawrence J. Mone

Founded/Place: 1978— New York

Board of Trustees: Byron R. Wien, Roger Hertog, Charles H. Brunie, Robert J. Appel, Eugene D. Brody, Christopher H. Browne, Andrew Cader, Timothy G. Dalton, Jr., Michael J. Fedak, Peter M. Flanigan, Mark Gerson, William B. Ginsberg, Maurice R. Greenberg, Fleur Harlan, H. Dale Hemmerdinger, John W. Holman, Jr., Bruce Kovner, William Kristol, Frank J. Macchiarola, Rodney W. Nichols, Edward J. Nicoll, Peggy Noonan, Joseph H. Reich, Richard Reiss, Jr., Joseph L. Rice, III, Frank E. Richardson, Robert Rosenkranz, Nathan E. Saint-Amand, MD, Andrew M. Saul, Paul E. Singer, Robert Skidelsky, Thomas W. Smith, William K. Tell, Jr., Thomas J. Tisch, Donald G. Tober, Bruce G. Wilcox, Kathryn S. Wylde.

Finances: In 2005; $17,555,461 in assets; $ 13,296,150 in revenue; $ 10,083,160 in expenses

Publications: City Journal

Affiliate Groups: An associated member of the State Policy Network, a national network of state-based right-wing organizations in 37 states as well as prominent nationwide right-wing organizations. Through its network SPN advances the public policy ideas of the expansive right-wing political movement on the state and local level.

Purpose

A think tank focused on promoting free-market principles whose mission is to "develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility."

Activities

• A staff of senior fellows and writers contribute to the Manhattan Institute's City Journal and compose books, reviews, lectures and articles to promote the organization's views. The organization holds several high profile lecture series and policy forums and has hosted policy speeches by Bush administration officials and Republican presidential candidates.

• The Center for Civic Innovation focuses on improving the quality of life in cities by turning away from government policies and giving power to people closest to each specific problem, like parents, police, and ministers. The Center advocates for school vouchers and greater educational accountability.

• The Center for Race and Ethnicity seeks to examine prevalent issues within minority communities and criticizes relevant government policies. The Center argues that many government social programs act as barriers toward fostering a greater sense of individual responsibility and entrepreneurial spirit within minority communities.

Many of the Center's writers attribute the socio-economic problems of the black community to an overriding sense of victimization, a reliance on government social programs, and a culture adverse to education and individualist social advancement. Accordingly, they contend that government programs such as welfare and affirmative action reinforce the community's sense of dependence and victimization.

• While many of the Center's writers do not hold an anti-immigration position, the Center opposes government programs intended to accommodate immigrant concerns, such as bi-lingual education. They argue that such policies stand in the way of Hispanic integration and deprive immigrant communities from the full benefits of America's market system.

Controversial Fellows

Charles Murray served as a visiting fellow from 1981-1990. Murray later authored the controversial 1994 work, The Bell Curve, in which he argues that the gap between black IQ scores and white and Asian IQ scores in America cannot be explained by social factors and subsequently forwards the idea of genetic intelligence differences between races.

• Abigail Thernstrom serves as a senior fellow at the Institute. She has advanced controversial opinions about the state of American race relations and serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She was one of only two members to dissent from the Commission's eight member panel in finding evidence of racially-based election irregularities regarding the 2000 election in Florida.


Funding

Major contributors include Exxon Mobil, Chase Manhattan, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lilly Endowment, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Sarah Scaife Foundation, Roe Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation.

History

The Manhattan Institute originated in the late 1970s as a conservative, free-market think tank with a focus toward addressing urban social problems in New York City. Playing a large role in developing and influencing the policies of Mayor Giuliani, the organization rose to national prominence during New York City's 1990s revival as it advocated the privatization of sanitation services and infrastructure maintenance, deregulation in the area of environmental and consumer protection, school vouchers and cuts in government spending on social welfare programs. The Manhattan Institute subsequently became one of the foremost policy institutions with regard to urban social issues such crime, education, welfare, and race relations. Under the Bush Administration, the Institute has gained increased standing in a wider range of issues and has established itself as one of the preeminent conservative think-tanks, having hosted policy speeches by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in 2002 and both President Bush and Vice-President Cheney in 2006.

Quotes

• "...I want to thank the Manhattan Institute's support for pro-growth economic policies, policies that really send a clear signal that we are still the land of dreamers and doers and risk-takers." - George W Bush; New York, Jun 27, 2006

• "For twenty-five years, the Manhattan Institute has confronted old problems with fresh thinking. Many of the Institute's emblematic ideas—from the notion that low taxes encourage businesses to the concept that police should be treated with respect—were originally greeted with skepticism but have since been embraced by well-run cities everywhere. Congratulations on a quarter century of making a difference." - Rudolph W. Giuliani

• "This is a place of tremendous creativity, of original thinking, and of intellectual rigor. The scholars of the Manhattan Institute have shown, time and again, the power of good ideas to shape public policy and to have an impact on the lives of people here in New York and across the nation. You have made enormous contributions to the betterment of the city and the policy debate nationwide. The Manhattan Institute is greatly admired in the country, and rightly so. I congratulate you for building such a fine reputation, and for maintaining it over the years." - Dick Cheney; New York, Jan 16, 2006
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Re: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on Bill Clinton & BLM

Postby admin » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:12 am

Don't believe the fictitious crime trends used to undermine police reform. The ‘Ferguson Effect’ is part of an ugly history of using crime to delegitimize civil rights movements. That’s why we must be especially vigilant against it
by Bernard Harcourt
June 6, 2015

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Image
Claims that crime has shot up because of the Ferguson protests are gaining traction, despite scanty evidence. Photograph: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Pulling a page out of the conservative playbook from the 1960’s, some are arguing that America is seeing a “dramatic crime wave” as a result of the protests against police shootings in cities like Baltimore and Ferguson. But the so-called “Ferguson effect” is just the latest example of conservative crime fiction being used to undermine the recent gains of the country’s newest civil rights movement.

The causal link underlying the “Ferguson effect” is unfounded, as any honest social scientist will tell you. Given the complexity of identifying short-term crime trends and of determining reliable causal antecedents –- even with decades of hindsight and troves of big data, which is certainly not the case here -– the idea that we could observe a “Ferguson effect” on crime today is preposterous. One need only glance at the voluminous scientific controversy surrounding the massive crime drop since the early 1990s in the United States and Canada to understand this perfectly.

The point of the “Ferguson effect,” though, is not to be accurate. It is instead to distract us from the growing evidence about the magnitude and extent of police use of lethal violence in the United States -– as powerfully documented just this week by The Guardian and the Washington Post -– and to besmirch the #BlackLivesMatter movement.


It’s a strategy that Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater inaugurated in his campaign in 1964, almost single-handedly turning crime into a political weapon against the civil rights movement. As Katherine Beckett shows in Making Crime Pay, the strategy coincided with a southern conservative focus on crime as a way to discredit the gains of the civil rights struggle and attract voters to the GOP.

Richard Nixon perfected this tactic during his presidency, repeatedly emphasizing, as he would in his 1968 acceptance speech, that all “we have reaped” from social programs for the urban poor is “an ugly harvest of frustrations, violence and failure.” As his chief of staff, HR Haldeman, would document in his diaries, referring to President Nixon as “P”: “P emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”


Linking crime to race as a way to undermine a civil rights movement is an approach that was woven into the fabric of the law-and-order movement from that period til now. Consider arguments about the threat of juvenile “super-predators”, which William Bennett, John DiIulio and John Walters invented and defined in their 1996 book Body Count as: “the youngest, biggest and baddest generation any society has ever known”. They wrote:

Based on all that we have witnessed, researched and heard from people who are close to the action, here is what we believe: America is now home to thickening ranks of juvenile ‘super-predators’ -– radically impulsive, brutally remorseless youngsters, including ever more preteenage boys, who murder, assault, rape, rob, burglarize, deal deadly drugs, join gun-toting gangs and create serious communal disorders.


DiIulio would add, in another article in 1996: “as many as half of these juvenile super-predators could be young black males”.

Still today, those attempting to undo civil rights gains try to link crime to race. J Phillip Thompson shows well that the roots of “broken windows” policing –- often touted as the solution to the so-called “Ferguson effect” -– was precisely the “conservatives’ response to the civil rights movement demand for full employment in the mid-1960s.”

Back in the 60s, the language and references were more explicit. In his 1968 book Varieties of Police Behavior, James Q Wilson could, for instance, describe disorder as, among other things: “a Negro wearing a ‘conk rag’ (a piece of cloth tied around the head to hold flat hair being ‘processed’ -– that is, straightened).”

Today, people don’t use that kind of language in mainstream publications, but it is there in code –- those none-too-subtle references to race, crime and civil rights equality.

In a recent WSJ op-ed that warns of the “Ferguson effect”, we are told: “Almost any police shooting of a black person, no matter how threatening the behavior that provoked the shooting, now provokes angry protests”. The op-ed decries “the belief that any criminal-justice action that has a disparate impact on blacks is racially motivated.” The author suggests that recent attempts to reduce the population of black men in Wisconsin prisons may account for increased crime in Milwaukee. The op-ed quotes a police chief as saying that all this leaves “the criminal element ... feeling empowered”.

With no reliable evidence to go on other than an assortment of anecdotes and hunches, the “Ferguson effect” follows in a long line of conservative efforts to undermine racial equality.

It takes decades to undo these crime fictions. It took years to dispel the fantasy of juvenile super-predators -– with lasting effects on our juvenile justice system and devastating consequences for many youths. It would be decades before John DiIulio would recognize his myth and sign on to an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court trying to undo some of the more draconian measures. And it is only now that the myth of “broken windows” (revived again by NYPD Police Chief Bill Bratton) is starting to be recognized even by former believers as just that: an oversold tale.

Using crime to delegitimize a civil rights movement, sadly, is not new. The “Ferguson effect” has an ugly racial history.
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Re: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on Bill Clinton & BLM

Postby admin » Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:55 am

"No Regrets"
by Tara Carreon
4/20/16

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

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Image
"No Regrets," by Tara Carreon

[Hillary Clinton] I didn't mean to say ...

[Bill Clinton] I'm just saying ...

[Media Minstrel Show] Super Predator

[Black Lives Matter Protesters] Is My Son Next?
Justice for Eric Garner -- Black Lives Matter
I Can't Breathe
Black Lives Matter
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Re: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on Bill Clinton & BLM

Postby admin » Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:18 pm

The Democrats’ Uneasy Connection to Private Profit Deportation Jails
by Matthew Kolken
March 4, 2016

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In 1996, President William Jefferson Clinton signed sweeping immigration reform legislation into law: the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act” (IIRAIRA). Two of the law’s central components were the creation of mandatory detention of certain immigrants charged with criminal grounds of removal, and the establishment of a program that permits state and local law enforcement to arrest, detain and interrogate noncitizens believed to be in violation Federal immigration laws.

These two components paved the way for the expansion of the cottage industry of jailing immigrants in for-profit private prisons.

Once the 1996 law was in place, President Clinton took the advice of then senior advisor Rahm Emanuel, who devised a strategy for the President to “achieve record deportations of criminal aliens.” In just two years after signing the law, the Clinton administration nearly doubled the number of immigrants held in immigration detention, and by 1998 the average number of immigrants held in deportation jails increased from 6,785 to 15,447.

Flash forward to 2009. Hillary Clinton’s “friend and mentor” former Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) added language to the Department of Homeland Security’s annual spending bill that required the Federal government to “maintain a level of not less than 34,000 detention beds” at all times. This is commonly referred to as the “detention bed quota,” and needless to say the Obama administration endeavored to fill every single bed.

As the number of detained immigrants increased, a corresponding increase in the length of time it takes to process an individual through the deportation process also occurred. In many instances, it takes months for a detained immigrant to get their day in court to assert defenses to removal. Furthermore, because of mandatory detention, no immigration judge has the jurisdiction to release a detained immigrant while they are fighting their case. This has led to an annual cost of $2 billion to taxpayers, or approximately $5.5 million per day.

Not to be outdone, and rather than making good on his campaign promise to make immigration reform a top priority of his first term, President Obama appointed Emanuel as his Chief of Staff and proceeded to establish an artificial 400,000 per year deportation quota that resulted in the detention of noncitizens on a scale that has never been seen before, with the President now being labeled “the Deporter-in-Chief.”

By 2012, the private prison industry, one of the main beneficiaries of this detention strategy, had fully wrapped its tentacles around the Democratic Party—blanketing them in a mutually beneficial quid pro quo for Democratic support of policies that increased profitability. For example, Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz notoriously sided with the Corrections Corporation of America over her constituents concerning the construction of a for-profit prison to jail immigrants.

But it doesn’t end there. In 2013, Senate Democrats spearheaded new immigration reform legislation called the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.” It was sold to the American public as commonsense immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented. In reality, it was designed as a windfall for the private prison industry. Moreover, the pathway to citizenship was little more than a Lucy-held football due to a series of barriers to legalization that would result in a large percentage of the undocumented population failing to achieve lawful permanent resident (green card) status, let alone citizenship, and ultimately once again facing the prospect of incarceration and deportation.



The Congressional Budget Office scored the 2013 law, estimating that it would cost $3.1 billion to detain, prosecute and incarcerate offenders from 2014 to 2023. The federal prison population was also expected to increase by 14,000 inmates annually by 2018 at a cost to taxpayers of $1.6 billion over a decade.

In 2014, the Democrats lost the Senate, and there were whispers that Republicans intended to introduce immigration reform legislation that would cure the onerous 3- and 10-year bars created in President Clinton’s law that trapped the undocumented population inside the United States, preventing legalization and subjecting them to the possibility of detention and removal. If successful, Republicans would have greatly reduced the number of individuals inside the United States unlawfully, sharply cutting into the profitability of the private prison industry, while also being cast as champions of the undocumented community in advance of the 2016 Presidential election.

When the Democrats lost the Senate, despite Republicans pleading with President Obama to wait for Congress to act, he enacted a series of executive actions that had the end result of killing any prospect of immigration reform, and further cementing the public’s perception of Republicans as obstructionists.

Now we are on the eve of the 2016 Presidential election, and the private prison industry has become a central focus of the Democratic primary, with Bernie Sanders vowing to put an end to the “private, for-profit prison racket.” Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, countered Sanders, returning the money her campaign received from the private prison industry and also making a $8,600 donation to a women’s prison charity, or roughly the equivalent of two minutes of a single speech to Wall Street bankers. What she neglected to mention is that despite the token donation, the Clinton campaign still benefits from lobbyists from the for-profit prison industry, and her policy of refusing donations only includes direct donations to her campaign, but not donations to her super PACs or State and Federal Democratic committees.

For example, before the Clinton campaign said it would no longer take money from the private prison lobby, an October 2015 VICE article reported that the campaign had received as much campaign money as Marco Rubio’s campaign from groups affiliated with private prison companies:

It is hard to predict where we will be once we have a new occupant in the White House. But what has become abundantly clear is that until we do, Democrats will continue to keep the focus on Republicans using sleight-of-hand misdirection to prevent us from discovering that when you pull back the covers, you will find a strange bedfellow cozied up next to them in the Lincoln Bedroom, and a private prison industry checkbook on the nightstand.

***

Matthew Kolken is an immigration lawyer and the managing partner of Kolken & Kolken, located in Buffalo, New York. His legal opinions and analysis are regularly solicited by various news sources, including MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, The Washington Post, Forbes Magazine, and The Los Angeles Times, among others. You can follow him @mkolken.
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