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Other titles in the Studies in Crime and Public Policy series:
The City That Became Safe: New York's Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)by Franklin E. Zimring
Synopses & Reviews
The 40% drop in crime that occurred across the U.S. from 1991 to 2000 largely remains an unsolved mystery. Even more puzzling then is the crime rate drop in New York City, which lasted twice long and was twice as large. This 80% drop in crime over nineteen years represents the largest crime decline on record.
In The City that Became Safe, Franklin Zimring sets off in search of the New York difference through a detailed and comprehensive statistical investigation into the city's falling crime rates and possible explanations. If you listen to City Hall, aggressive police created a zero tolerance law enforcement regime that drove crime rates down. Is this self-serving political sound bite true? Are the official statistics generated by the police accurate? Zimring shows the numbers are correct and argues that some combination of more cops, new tactics, and new management can take some credit for the decline, but zero tolerance policing and quality of life were never a consistent part of the NYPD's strategy. That the police can make a difference in preventing crime overturns decades of conventional wisdom for criminologists, but Zimring points out the New York experience challenges the major assumptions dominating American crime and drug control policies that most everyone else has missed. First, imprisonment in actually New York decreased significantly from 1990 to 2009 and was well below the national average, proving that it is possible to have substantially less crime without increases in incarceration. Second, the NYPD sharply reduced drug violence (over 90%) without any reduction in hard drug use. In other words, they won the war on drug violence without winning the war on drugs. Finally, the stability of New York's population, economy, education, demographics, or immigration patterns calls into question the long-accepted cultural and structural causes of violence in America's cities. That high rates of crime are not hard wired into modern city life is welcome news for policy makers, criminal justice officials, and urban dwellers everywhere.
"Zimring (The Great American Crime Decline), law professor at Berkeley, illustrates how far New York City's crime rate has plummeted since its peak in the late 1980s — early 1990s. He argues that the decline 'challenges the major assumptions that have dominated American crime and drug policy for more than a generation' — that the New York Police Department's implementation of assertive policing policies is the sole reason for the decline. Other factors, he persuasively demonstrates, such as demographic changes, aging populations, changes in parole policy can take credit as well. While Zimring does introduce several new perspectives on the crime decline — contradicting, for example, that a cause of the decline was gentrification — his book's scholarly tone, intense focus, and abundant detail might prove hard going for readers not steeped in the study of statistics and urban crime." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The forty-percent drop in crime that occurred across the U.S. from 1991 to 2000 remains largely an unsolved mystery. Even more puzzling is the eighty-percent drop over nineteen years in New York City. Twice as long and twice as large, it is the largest crime decline on record.
In The City That Became Safe, Franklin E. Zimring seeks out the New York difference through a comprehensive investigation into the city's falling crime rates. The usual understanding is that aggressive police created a zero-tolerance law enforcement regime that drove crime rates down. Is this political sound bite true-are the official statistics generated by the police accurate? Though zero-tolerance policing and quality-of-life were never a consistent part of the NYPD's strategy, Zimring shows the numbers are correct and argues that some combination of more cops, new tactics, and new management can take some credit for the decline. That the police can make a difference at all in preventing crime overturns decades of conventional wisdom from criminologists, but Zimring also points out what most experts have missed: the New York experience challenges the basic assumptions driving American crime- and drug-control policies.
New York has shown that crime rates can be greatly reduced without increasing prison populations. New York teaches that targeted harm reduction strategies can drastically cut down on drug related violence even if illegal drug use remains high. And New York has proven that epidemic levels of violent crime are not hard-wired into the populations or cultures of urban America. This careful and penetrating analysis of how the nation's largest city became safe rewrites the playbook on crime and its control for all big cities.
About the Author
Franklin E. Zimring is William G. Simon Professor of Law and Wolfen Distinguished Scholar at the University of California-Berkeley. He is the author of The Great American Crime Decline (OUP 2006).
Table of Contents
Part I: Anatomy of a Crime Decline
Chapter 1: The Crime Decline - Some Vital Statistics
Chapter 2: A Safe City Now?
Part II: In Search of the New York Difference
Chapter 3: Continuity and Change in New York City
Chapter 4: Of Demography and Drugs: Testing Two 1990s Theories of Crime Causation
Chapter 5: Policing in New York City
Part III: Lessons and Questions
Chapter 6: Open Questions
Chapter 7: Lessons for American Crime Control
Chapter 8: Crime and the City
Appendix A: Staten Island: Crime, Policing and Population in New York's Fifth Borough
Appendix B: The Invisible Economics of New York City Incarceration
Appendix C: New York City Arrest Data and Borough Enforcement Staffing
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