The Great American Crime Decline

Paperback | November 15, 2008

byFranklin E. Zimring

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Many theories--from the routine to the bizarre--have been offered up to explain the crime decline of the 1990s. Was it record levels of imprisonment? An abatement of the crack cocaine epidemic? More police using better tactics? Or even the effects of legalized abortion? And what can we expectfrom crime rates in the future? Franklin E. Zimring here takes on the experts, and counters with the first in-depth portrait of the decline and its true significance. The major lesson from the 1990s is that relatively superficial changes in the character of urban life can be associated with up to75% drops in the crime rate. Crime can drop even if there is no major change in the population, the economy or the schools. Offering the most reliable data available, Zimring documents the decline as the longest and largest since World War II. It ranged across both violent and non-violent offenses, all regions, and every demographic. All Americans, whether they live in cities or suburbs, whether rich or poor, are safertoday. Casting a critical and unerring eye on current explanations, this book demonstrates that both long-standing theories of crime prevention and recently generated theories fall far short of explaining the 1990s drop. A careful study of Canadian crime trends reveals that imprisonment and economicfactors may not have played the role in the U.S. crime drop that many have suggested. There was no magic bullet but instead a combination of factors working in concert rather than a single cause that produced the decline. Further--and happily for future progress, it is clear that declines in the crime rate do not require fundamental social or structural changes. Smaller shifts inpolicy can make large differences. The significant reductions in crime rates, especially in New York, where crime dropped twice the national average, suggests that there is room for other cities to repeat this astounding success. In this definitive look at the great American crime decline, Franklin E. Zimring finds no pat answersbut evidence that even lower crime rates might be in store.

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Many theories--from the routine to the bizarre--have been offered up to explain the crime decline of the 1990s. Was it record levels of imprisonment? An abatement of the crack cocaine epidemic? More police using better tactics? Or even the effects of legalized abortion? And what can we expectfrom crime rates in the future? Franklin E. ...

Franklin E. Zimring is the William G. Simon Professor of Law and Wolfen Distinguished Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. His recent books include The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment (2003), voted a Book of the Year by the Economist and American Juvenile Justice (2005).

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 5.98 × 9.09 × 0.71 inPublished:November 15, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195378989

ISBN - 13:9780195378986

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Table of Contents

Part I What Happened in the 1990s?1. The Size and Character of the Crime Decline2. The Environment for Optimism: Crime Trends and Attitudes about the Effectiveness of Crime PoliciesPart II The Search for Causes3. The Usual Suspects: Imprisonment, Demography, and the Economy4. Progeny of the 1990s: Three New Explanations of DeclinePart III Two New Perspectives5. Which Twin Has the Toni? Some Statistical Lessons from Canada6. New York City's Natural ExperimentPart IV Twenty-First Century Lessons7. What Happens Next?8. Seven Lessons from the 1990sAppendix 1: Crime and Abortion Policy in Europe, Canada, and AustraliaAppendix 2: Supplementary Statistics on Crime Trends in Canada during the 1990sAppendix 3: Trends for the City of New York and the United States during the 1990sAppendix 4: Measuring the Extent of Decline in Selected High-Decline CitiesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"To his credit, Zimring disavows simplistic, one-dimensional answers....Recommended."--CHOICE