Your generation was more violent

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Previously we found that your generation was sluttier, so we turn now to another great threat to civilization — violence (between individuals). As before, our concern is with whether violent crime rates are increasing or decreasing, and not so much with the absolute level: it is easier to screw up civilization than it is to improve on it, so a decline can quickly snowball, while it may take much longer to restore things to their previous levels.

There are very good and very clear data on violent crime, so this post will be much more direct than the one on sluttiness. Let’s begin with homicide. The Bureau of Justice Statistics, part of the US Department of Justice, has taken homicide data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics and put it into a straightforward graph. I see five trends in the graph: an increase from 1900 to the mid-1930s, a decrease from the mid-1930s to about 1960, an increase from 1960 to the late 1970s, a fairly steady high level (with oscillations) throughout the 1980s, and a decrease from 1992 to the present.

To be generous to older generations, let’s say that much of this homicide is committed by 15 year-olds. That means that the cohort born in 1945 is responsible for the increase that began in 1960. I figure you have to be about 73 years old in order to decry how violent the younger generations have been — certainly the Boomers and Gen X-ers cannot complain, while Generation Y should be thankful they’ve lived through such peaceful times.

The homicide data also caution against viewing the past with rosy spectacles — there was nothing peaceful at all about the first third of the 20th century. Declinists who long for better times in the past seem to latch onto a fleeting period of rest and prosperity. That’s fine, as far as worshipping one period over another goes. However, we should not think that we can easily maintain that level, whether through individual choice or institutional incentives, as oscillations and limit cycles appear to be the rule rather than the exception. We should aim instead to have a somewhat low level of Bad Things, with low-amplitude fluctuations, and not let the mere existence of waxing and waning cause us hysteria.

What about the intersection of sex and violence — how have forcible rape rates changed over time? Again we turn to BJS data, although they do not go back nearly as far as homicide data, the earliest year being 1960. After retrieving data from this page, looking at the entire United States, forcible rape rate, from 1960 to 2006, I put them into a simple graph:

There are only two trends here: an increase from 1963 to 1992, and a decrease afterward. In fact, the two trends look pretty linear on first glance. The slope of the increasing trend is about +1.11, and the slope of the decreasing trend is about -0.85, confirming the hunch that the decline of civilization snowballs more quickly than its restoration proceeds. As with homicide, Boomers and Gen X-ers cannot complain about rape epidemics in recent generations. This is particularly true for the Boomers and Gen X-ers who manufactured and continue to prop up the myth of the campus rape crisis.

The BJS also has an index of “violent crime” that includes murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. I used the same search function as for the rape rate graph, and the trends for this general violent crime rate look the same as the rape rate trends, so I won’t include the graph. In brief, there’s an increase from 1962 to 1991, and a decrease afterward.

As in the case of sluttiness, using popular culture as a means of taking civilization’s pulse is highly unreliable. Before, we saw that slutty behavior has been decreasing even as perceived slutty appearances have been increasing. Here, we see that violent crime has been decreasing even as video games, movies, and TV shows have become increasingly violent. To pick just one example, gangsta rap was invisible during the 1980s and only became popular when Dr. Dre’s album The Chronic came out in 1992, drawing ever larger audiences throughout the 1990s — at the very time when violent crime was falling.

I don’t believe that trends in real behavior and in popular culture are causally related in an inverse way either — just that they are independent of each other. Cycles of fashion in the cultural realm are self-contained, and oscillations and limit cycles in real behavior are also self-contained, at least to a first approximation. I’ve read posts at Cognitive Daily that exposure to violent video games (and perhaps TV shows?) desensitizes people to violence within controlled, experimental laboratory settings, and that is an interesting finding. However, in examining the world outside of the lab, violent media cannot hope to account for even a trivial share of the variance across time in violent behavior.

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60 Comments

  1. A more compelling comparison is provided by the UK across the 20th century. The UK is a good, if extreme, example because it clung to a 19th-century (aristocratic) model of government well into the 20th century, but after 1945 became more Americanized (democratized) than perhaps even her overgrown demon child. 
     
    Data is here [PDF]. For crime, see page 14. The increase in indictable offenses known to the police, per capita, in England and Wales, from 1900 to 1992: a factor of 46, from 2.4 to 109.4. 
     
    I recommend clicking to see the curve. It’s quite a visual.

  2. Those data also highlight something I tried to emphasize, but maybe didn’t do enough of: blaming these trends on the counter-culture of the late 1960s is a mistake. The upward swing in gonorrhea prevalence (a measure of promiscuity) began in the late 1950s. The increase in homicide and forcible rape rates in the US began in the early 1960s. And the rates of indictable offenses in the UK started to increase in 1954. 
     
    If we model these processes as epidemics of an infectious disease, which they resemble on a conceptual and concrete level, it’s easy to understand the misattribution: it’s easiest to notice the spread of the epidemic when its rate of increase is greatest — halfway between its minimum and maximum levels (it grows logistically) — whereas it’s hard to detect when it’s just starting to spread. However, it has already reached a deterministic growth phase at that point, regardless of how slowly it’s growing. 
     
    So whatever “Typhoid Mary” aspect of culture caused civilization to go to shit in recent times, it started at or just before 1960, and was headed off around 1990.

  3. So whatever “Typhoid Mary” aspect of culture caused civilization to go to shit in recent times, it started at or just before 1960, and was headed off around 1990. 
     
    you know, in sociology we are in the pre-germ age :-) we’re still in the stage of humors & galen. no one really “knows” why the massive social transformation discernible in the 60s across advanced nations re: crime and anomie started or why it abated in the 90s. just like medieval europeans didn’t understand the relationship between rats and the plague.

  4. Very interesting post. As a conservative I will just stick to blaming the government entitlements that started degrading the country’s moral fiber starting around 1960. :) 
     
    seriously though, I am curious if there are any readers who could point me to good non-fiction books by criminologists. I am interested in the subject, but I find most research to be poorly done. I am especially interested in how forensic DNA databases affect crime rates.

  5. The UK crime graph on page 15 also shows a decline in the 90s. That makes MM’s predictions about it falling apart and restoring the Stuarts seem less likely, though I don’t know what the trends are now.

  6. Keith, James Q. Wilson (whose book “Bureaucracy” I reviewed here) was well known for his criminology (I link to writings of his on the subject at Volokh in my post), especially the “Broken Windows Theory”. Levitt in “Freakonomics” claims to debunk it, though you might also want to check out John Lott for a contrary take. Randall Collins’ recent book on the requisite conditions for violence is supposed to be good, but I haven’t had a chance to read it. I’ve just recently ordered Demonic Males, which argues that violence is a deep-rooted part of our evolutionary nature, and I’ll try to have a review of that up not too far in the future.

  7. Apparently Bell Curve co-author Richard Herrnstein co-wrote with James Q. Wilson a book on crime titled “Crime and Human Nature: The Definitive Study of the Causes of Crime”. Alex Tabarrok has a paper called “A Simple Model of Crime Waves, Riots, and Revolutions”, but it’s not open-access.

  8. I can’t see that the data was standardised for age cohorts. You particularly want to know about proportions of young males when looking at violent crime, since the rates appear to be simply “per 100,000″ persons. A society with more young males will have more crime, even if ethnic composition doesn’t change–which it certainly has in the UK and in many US cities. 
     
    As for murder rates, I can assure you that trauma care in large and medium city hospitals in N. America is a hell of a lot better now than it was just a few decades ago.

  9. The Linday Lohan-induced promiscuity epidemic that has hit America, according to everyone from Katie Couric to Bill O’Reilly, is ruining a generation of American children. Nevermind that the teen pregnancy rate (going back to the 1950s) recently hit a record astounding low and that abstinence explains much of the decline….. or that herpes infection rates are back down to where they were several decades ago (when the current generation’s parents were in school)…… or that even today, with the average age of marriage at 26, 75% of non-hispanic whites are born to married couples…… or that every indicator we have shows that the overwhelming majority of people, including the young, have very low numbers of lifetime sexual partners and somewhat infrequent (though often highly infrequent) sexual activity until their 20s…… We live in an age of moral decay and everybody knows it. Didn’t you see American Pie?

  10. mcgraw, you also forgot to mention that kids are more ignorant today than were the geniuses of the days of yore :0)

  11. ?, it is assumed by many that the “whiggish” view of history is a peculiar thing, that most societies look back to a lost golden age or eden before the contemporary time of the fall. part of this is likely due to the reality of the malthusian trap and the genuine lack of perceived progress across life history before the modern era. but might some of it have to do with the peculiarities of developmental psychology whereby humans tend to always seem their childhoods (on average) more rosily than their presents? any models along those lines? (i think this sounds freudian, so sue me)

  12. “The decline of rape” was discussed last year in the LA Times. (and responds to Al Fin’s age question above. It is a generational decline) 
     
    Steven Pinker’s A History of Violence provides an even broader optimistic perspective. 
     
    In pretty much every way the world has been getting better for some time.

  13. As for murder rates, I can assure you that trauma care in large and medium city hospitals in N. America is a hell of a lot better now than it was just a few decades ago. 
     
    Assault is lower too. Crimes all tend to move up and down together like this.

  14. http://www.ur.umich.edu/0506/Dec12_05/24.shtml 
     
    Substance abuse also is decling to some extent. the declines are more modest than what we’ve seen with regards to the other social issues (crime, rape, promiscuity), but decent enough…. probably i’d guess it’s harder to deter substance abuse since the apparent consequences are often only seen in the longterm, while other consequences (jail time, STDs, pregnancy) are more immediately visible and thuse have a strong effect….. even so the stats generally look really good…. drug use down, teen pregnancy and STD infection WAY down, crime down, rape WAY down…. ignorance? Vastly up and increasing by the day…..

  15. Never thought that violence was increasing. Quite the opposite: seems like kids these days are quite wimpy (and often out of shape). Even in the military, things seem to be getting softer and easier. And I don’t just mean since the end of the draft (in America).

  16. As for murder rates, I can assure you that trauma care in large and medium city hospitals in N. America is a hell of a lot better now than it was just a few decades ago. 
     
    I’ll just quote myself here, from the post you’re commenting on: 
     
    The BJS also has an index of “violent crime” that includes murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. I used the same search function as for the rape rate graph, and the trends for this general violent crime rate look the same as the rape rate trends, so I won’t include the graph. In brief, there’s an increase from 1962 to 1991, and a decrease afterward. 
     
    Never thought that violence was increasing. Quite the opposite: seems like kids these days are quite wimpy 
     
    You must not live in the US. All we’ve heard about for at least the past 15 – 20 years is how violence is spiraling out of control, kids are listening to gangsta rap, school shootings and bullying are epidemic, rape is pandemic on college campuses, bla bla bla. All a load of horseshit.

  17. As you said earlier, cultural styles seem independent of actual behavioral trends. Middle-class suburban boys dress like thugs, but they aren’t becoming gangsters or shooting up their neighborhood (the Columbine type wackos being the rare and notable exception)….. Female dressing styles are as provacative as ever, but only a miniscule (and decreasing) % are actually sleeping around….. Kids aspire to the anti-intellectual ethos embodied by rappers like 50 cent, but continue to increase their college graduation rates…. South Asian audiences flock to romantic movies, but enforce arranged marriages with an iron hand…….  
     
    To some extent, I think this escape into fantasy allows us to indulge our fantasies, and create a more provacative image of ourselves to the world, without suffering the consequences. So dressing like rapper Snoop Dogg allows a college-bound male from an affluent family to escape from his banal existence and show his equally lame friends that he’s down with slum culture. Wearing stilletos and high heels allows a responsible Church-going girl the opportunity to create a sense of intrigue….. and lets her connect with those popular celebrities on her favorite show Desperate Housewives…… Kids these days are a generation of wannabes and they know it. The media is ignorant of this and likes to sound the alarm every few months.

  18. mcgraw: what you predict by your model that more upscale whites would be into gangsta rap, etc., while more downscale whites would not, etc? anyone know of sociological data on this sort of thing? in my teen social circles certainly rap & hip-hop were more popular/cool kid thing things, while punk, alternative, etc., were uncool kid things, and country was more working scale/downscale (all these social sets are almost exclusively white). i also recall an episode of daria where they alluded explicitly to this sorting of musical styles….

  19. agnostic, what really interested me in the US data is that sharp spike at the beginning, around 1905 or so. I’d love to see what the numbers look like since, say, 1870. 
     
    The changes since 1992 in the UK are probably more attributable to NuLab’s notorious statistics-fiddling. In particular, discouraging people from reporting crime is pretty easy. 
     
    As for the US, the rise in prison populations no doubt has a lot to do with the falloff in crime. The problem is that the rise in prison populations is the result, in my opinion, of the law-and-order backlash of the ’80s and early ’90s. In other words, it is the consequence of a political movement whose energy is largely spent. These days I see more and more people, or at least journalists, peddling the idea that just locking people up can’t possibly be an effective way to deal with crime – as though no one had ever tried this before. 
     
    Another of the interesting things about the UK is the ratio between prison population and crime reports. The prison population in 1900 is lower – but not 46 times lower. If you know anything about the way Englishmen used to regard crime and disorder, you know why.

  20. razib, with all due respect, I don’t think we’ll ever know anything about “sociology.” Don’t you think it’s been in its infancy for a suspiciously long time at this point? H.G. Wells used to talk about the same subject in almost exactly the same way. 
     
    Whatever “sociology” may be, it is certainly not an experimental discipline in which hypotheses can be rigorously confirmed or refuted. Which means it is not a science at all, at least not as I use the word. Which means that, since it claims to be a science, it is a pseudoscience. Of course this is just a word I use, and may not correspond to anyone else’s definition. 
     
    From my perspective, agnostic’s data is just an illustration of history. Statistics can make interesting illustrations for historical discussions. So can old documents. Like document analysis, statistics can be done well or badly. But no statistic can prove or disprove any hypothesis about why murder rates went up in the 1960s. Obviously, the matter is not susceptible to any sort of experiment. It is not a scientific question at all. It is a historical question. 
     
    Froude expresses more or less this view of “scientific history,” here. Basically, the whole thing is a botch. “But for the present I object to all historical theories.” I’m not sure quite when Froude wrote this, but it was well over a century ago and his essay needs no updating at all. That’s a real historian for you. 
     
    There are many reasons why people want there to be such a thing as “sociology,” but one is that they’re looking for a formula by which government decisions can be made objectively – ie, in a way that means the decision is not just a product of the person, or in most cases committee, that made it.  
     
    As far as I can tell, scientific government is a political perpetual-motion device. It cannot exist, it has never existed, and it will never exist. Certainly in the private sector it is generally recognized that management is an art, not a science, and almost all serious decisions are unavoidably subjective. 
     
    I can excuse the writers of 1908 for saying that sociology, or scientific history, or political science, or any of these nefarious will-o-the-wisps, was in its infancy, like chemistry in 1608. In 2008 this is a little difficult to swallow – especially considering the number of atrocities that 20th-century governments perpetrated in the name of “social science.” Restore the Belle Epoque!

  21. You must not live in the US…
     
    Oh, I know what I’m supposed to believe. I was just describing my subjective impression. 
     
    …kids are listening to gangsta rap, school shootings and bullying are epidemic… 
     
    It’s an odd matter of pride for kids to make the school environment seem scary (and protective parents are eager to believe it). Looks like overcompensation to me, a bit like sci-fi nerds dressing up as klingon warriors.

  22. Mencius, you seem to dismiss social science while simultaneously giving pronouncements of a social scientific nature. The effect of prisons on crime is analyzed in books like Freakonomics that compare whether drops preceded increasing imprisonment rates, or how crime rates changed in similar localities with differing prison policies. We can go more in depth into questions and have higher confidence in our analysis than simply reasoning from our armchairs. The degree of confidence that we an attain is not on the level of the hard sciences with repeatable controlled experiments (though there are sometimes actual experiments), but it’s not nothing (nor are medicine or Darwinism). Yes, I know you’ll respond with the Feynman cargo-cult thing, and in turn I’ll take your humility or at least epistemological skepticism seriously (perhaps not accepting it myself, but accepting that you really believe it) when you stop making confident pronouncements about social science.

  23. Mencius, you seem to dismiss social science while simultaneously giving pronouncements of a social scientific nature. 
     
    :-)

  24. Here’s an interesting explanation for the decrease in violent crime: 
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/21/magazine/21wwln-idealab-t.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1193069109-tIv/I01qmqYqqX/fw3A7Iw&oref=slogin&oref=slogin 
     
    In summary, lead additives to gasoline led to violent tendencies in adolescents who were exposed to the lead as children. Rates of violent crime peaked about 20 years after lead additives were phased out (just long enough for the last group of poisoned children to become adults) and has been declining since. 
     
    It’s really a fascinating article.

  25. I think lead poisoning definitely played a role. But locking up so many violent criminals must also have helped. To some extent, I think we’ve locked up most of the people with supremely short time horizons (those that can’t really be deterred), while making careers in violent crime economically unattractive for those that can think ahead. Forty years ago it might have been rational (under certain circumstances) to be a mugger. Whereas today someone who is willing to risk arrest and prosecution is better served by committing credit card fraud. 
    I wonder too whether improvements in technology (notably cell phones, video cameras, and DNA testing) have made it harder to get away with crime.

  26. Per all that ‘broken windows’ stuff. I have a cousin who until recently was a lieutenant in the NYPD. His take on the whole broken windows stuff wasn’t that enforcing small laws directly made big crimes like murder and assault go away, it was people who broke small laws tended to be the same people who broke big laws, and putting them away lowered the amount of big crimes. 
     
    Also, if one stopped someone who just jumped a subway turnstyle, you’d search him, and you’d often find some drugs on him. Drug possession is a great charge for getting a perp off the streets, since drug possession is an open and shut sort of case, where assault, grand theft auto, and burglary, let alone murder, are generally harder crimes for a DA to build a case for. Since the perps for the big crimes tend to break small laws while carrying a vial of crack, and a stop and search for this is an open and shut conviction, that’s how ‘broken windows’ lowers crime, it gets the perps for big crimes off the street on lesser charges. 
     
    Per lots of theories about crime like leaded gas, just having a crime rate like the one in 1964 doesn’t mean that crime in a general sense is the at the same level as 1964. If one had the same crime rate as in 1964 and the same prison population that there was in 1964, then you’re back to where you were. A “true” crime rate would not be about counting crimes but counting criminals, and per that measure we haven’t got anywhere on reducing crime in the past 15 years.

  27. I think that the main reason that crime got out of control during the 70′s and 80′s was the shitty economy we had during the 70′s. Law enforcement was hampered by severe budgetary constrains at the very time when it needed more resources. During the early eighties, the police in Portland, Oregon refused to even take complaints on property crimes much less investigate them. My car was stolen and recovered about this time and the police told me that if I filed a complaint, they would impound my car for a year as evidence; but if I would simply forget about the whole thing I could drive my car home. At the time, people caught driving stolen vehicles were issued the equivalent of a traffic ticket and released on the spot.  
     
    The initial causes of the increase in crime were probably increasing levels of drug abuse and the baby boom cohort reaching its peak crime years, but the failure of the criminal justice system to provide any effective deterent was the main culprit in keeping the trend alive. 
     
    Because our criminal justice system is burdened with protecting the rights of defendants and affording them due process, it is particularly vulnerable to being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of criminals. The next time our economy goes into a prolonged recession, I hope we will be more intelligent about how we allocate scarce resources. The right to be free of crime and the fear of crime is not a political right, it is the right of any citzen of a civilized country. For over 30 years, our government failed to provide us with this right. It has taken a massive investment in building prisons and beefing up law enforcement to halt and partially reverse the crime wave that began in the 60′s. It could all be undone again.

  28. When I was in high school, our house was broken into during the early 80′s. I came home to find the front door wide open and parts of the house ransacked. The thieves were after our silver. They did not take anything lese.  
     
    I called the cops but they never came. We just cleaned up and reported the theft to our insurance company. 
     
    I think the cops were way overworked, relative to the amount of crime, in the late 70′s and early 80′s.

  29. TGGP, if you want to accuse me of something, you’ll have to explain where I’m doing it! 
     
    The trouble with imperfectly controlled experiments, as Feynman so patiently explains, is that they are worse than no experiment at all: they allow the researcher to delude himself and others, baptizing his arbitrary prejudices with the holy water of statistics. A phenomenon hardly unknown in the “social sciences” of the 20th century. 
     
    Worse, “social science” replaced an older tradition of government which was based on craft, experience, and common sense – in a word, phronesis. Rest assured that any governing authority both phronetic and plenary would not be tolerating, say, 30,000 rapes a year in the US. 
     
    In 1887 Gladstone wrote an astounding screed in which, in answer to the apostate heresy of Tennyson’s “Locksley Hall, Sixty Years After,” he lists the great accomplishments of liberalism in England. At one point he writes: 
    One reference to figures may however be permitted. It is that which exhibits the recent movement of crime in this country. For the sake of brevity I use round numbers in stating it. Happily the facts are too broad to be seriously mistaken. In 1870, the United Kingdom with a population of about 31,700,000 had about 13,000 criminals, or one in 1,760. In 1884, with a population of 36,000,000, it had 14,000 criminals, or one in 2,500. And as there are some among us who conceive Ireland to be a sort of pandemonium, it may be well to mention (and I have the hope that Wales might, on the whole, show as clean a record) that with a population of (say) 5,100,000 Ireland (in 1884) had 1,573 criminals, or less than one in 3,200.  
    I’m not sure what Gladstone counts as a “criminal,” but my suspicion is that he is just listing the number of people in prison – on the assumption that that’s where they are. Probably a reasonable assumption in 1887. Restore the Belle Epoque!

  30. One simple explanation for the 1960-1992 crime wave was all the Baby Boomers (born 1946-64) in crime-prone ages. The oldest ones hit their teens around 1960, while the youngest ones would have been 28 in 1992. 
     
    One strange trend has been a big increase in gang members over the past 15 years as crime has decreased. Perhaps it’s become all pose and ho’s.

  31. if you want to accuse me of something, you’ll have to explain where I’m doing it 
    In your second post here you state that the reason for the change in UK numbers since 92 is an artifact of how statistics are gathered, that the decrease in crime in the U.S was due to an increase in prisoners and that was in turn due to a political movement which is spent and not to return. All plausible theories, and all things that social scientists study. That’s merely in that one post, you make similar pronouncements quite often. 
     
    they allow the researcher to delude himself and others 
    People are going to delude themselves in any situation. The methods of science, which have been imitated by social scientists, provide constraint (even if insufficient) on this tendency. 
     
    Rest assured that any governing authority both phronetic and plenary would not be tolerating, say, 30,000 rapes a year in the US 
    You hark back to classical civilization, famous for such things as the rape of the Sabine women and without such concepts as “marital rape” introduced by feminists anxious to highlight the issue. Quoting from Pinker: “The criminologist Manuel Eisner has assembled hundreds of homicide estimates from Western European localities that kept records at some point between 1200 and the mid-1990s. In every country he analyzed, murder rates declined steeply?for example, from 24 homicides per 100,000 Englishmen in the fourteenth century to 0.6 per 100,000 by the early 1960s.” Now the chance of being a victim of a crime is quite slim, especially if you are female, white and/or without a criminal record
     
    I am not talking right now about governance. I am not in government, you are not in government and neither of us will ever have any influence on government. What I am talking about is understanding the world and the issues we find interesting.

  32. I doubt many of the explanations given, because they’re only trying to account for a single increase and decrease — recall that the homicide rate shot up from 1900 to the mid-1930s, and fell from the mid-1930s to about 1960. 
     
    What does changing content of lead in gasoline or changing population size (in any demographic) have to do with that? 
     
    There was also been an “Echo” Baby Boom among the Boomers — not as big as the original, but still the largest increase since the original Boom. They’re born somewhere betwen 1982 and 1995, so most have entered their crime-prone years and — no crime wave (just the opposite).

  33. has anyone considered the hypothesis that chuck norris was responsible for the crime waves from the 1960′s to the 1990′s as a result of his bare fists and roundhouses, and the ensuing reduction was a result of his emergence as a peaceful, born-again christian?

  34. I read somewhere that the only crime statistics which are really reliable and comparable across countries are homicide and auto theft. The authorities can’t readily ignore dead bodies (it’s different when they’re the ones generating the dead bodies, though), and due to the high value and high visibility of cars, and the prevalence of insurance, most car thefts get reported. Anything else can suffer from both reporting frequency problems as well as definitional problems. 
     
    The large spike in crime 1900-1930 in the U.S. may be due to the large wave of immigration, especially as immigrants tend to be similar, demographically, to criminals. Certianly, Prohibition had something to do with the tail end of it, as well as the decline after 1932.

  35. A better way to analyze the problem is to examine the amount of GDP spent to keep people safe. Declining numbers of rapes and homicides do not provide the whole picture. More people live in gated communities. More people have alarm systems and security guards monitoring neighborhoods in middle class areas. Many cities have areas where people do not walk at night. Nobody sleeps overnight on beaches, which was the practice forty years ago. Safety has been purchased at a high cost in many cities with cameras on nearly every block.

  36. By the way, as a counterpoint to the argument that people are getting better (as opposed to institutions and technology), Charles Murray has argued that the drop in crime since 1990 is an enforcement issue, but criminality as a population trait has continued to increase
    The crime rate has been dropping for 13 years. But the proportion of young men who grow up unsocialized and who, given the opportunity, commit crimes, has not. 
     
    A rough operational measure of criminality is the percentage of the population under correctional supervision. This is less sensitive to changes in correctional fashion than imprisonment rates, since people convicted of a crime get some sort of correctional supervision regardless of the political climate. When Ronald Reagan took office, 0.9% of the population was under correctional supervision. That figure has continued to rise. When crime began to fall in 1992, it stood at 1.9%. In 2003 it was 2.4%. Crime has dropped, but criminality has continued to rise.

  37. How come nobody’s trying to explain why crime spiked in the 1920′s, according to the graph? What did that period have in common with the more recent era? Economic good times? Growing economic inequality? Or maybe it is a case of crime going down in hard times? Simplistic, I know.

  38. An argument against using correctional supervision rather than crime rates is that one of the big problems starting in the 60s was that it became much harder to obtain convictions in the first place.

  39. In your second post here you state that the reason for the change in UK numbers since 92 is an artifact of how statistics are gathered, that the decrease in crime in the U.S was due to an increase in prisoners and that was in turn due to a political movement which is spent and not to return. All plausible theories, and all things that social scientists study. 
     
    And all things that historians study. Historians, however, study them using appropriate tools, and social scientists with inappropriate ones. 
     
    These propositions are interpretations, not “theories.” There is simply no way to verify whether they are true or false. To put it another way, there is no objective procedure which can test whether my interpretations are right or wrong. The judgment is as inescapably aesthetic as deciding whether a movie is good or bad. 
     
    And if you believed in a science of “movieology” that could solve this problem, you would be a pseudoscientist. The same goes for “social science,” and any other corruption of history – which is and always will be a literary form, and nothing more or less.

  40. In every country he analyzed, murder rates declined steeply?for example, from 24 homicides per 100,000 Englishmen in the fourteenth century to 0.6 per 100,000 by the early 1960s. 
     
    That’s quite a timespan to construct a line segment over! And the near endpoint is chosen very interestingly, as well. The rate is nowhere near 24 in England proper today, I don’t think, but it is well over 24 in many of England’s erstwhile domains. And the former seems to track the latter, so watch out. Fortunately, neither of us is in England, either…

  41. Luke – looking at the graph, I assumed the reason was Prohibition – particularly given the sharp drop circa 1934.

  42. The following is an example of the use of social statistics which I personally find very convincing, indeed mind-changing – from Engram (at BackTalk) in a series of analyses looking at the relation between murder and capital punishment: 
     
    http://engram-backtalk.blogspot.com/search/label/Capital%20Punishment

  43. “…people who broke small laws tended to be the same people who broke big laws, and putting them away lowered the amount of big crimes…” 
     
    That is one reason cops in DC like tough gun laws. They can tail a known perp, dangerous but difficult to convict of his deadly crimes, find a legaly valid excuse to frisk him, get him with a gun, and have him off the streets for a few years in an easy case. 
     
    The revolution in the criminal justice system per Warren Court decisions in the mid-1960s undoubtedly had something to do with the post- 1960s rise in crime, but how much is still in question. Basically, it cut the conviction rate per crime dramatically. Then, over the past 30 years, we have steadily raised the sentence-per- conviction rate, increasing the incarceration rate per capita dramatically.  
     
    So we have re-established a rough equilibrium, but only by jailing many more people much longer and by being clever about bagging them on relatively small charges.

  44. One place where there is evidence that people themselves have gotten less criminal over time (as opposed to better at enforcement) is Japan. Old Japanese men, on their criminal downswing, are still more likely to commit murder than the men currently at their reproductive peak. (the peak age for murder in America is 19, but Japanese men over 70 are more likely to commit murder than those under 20) 
    Japan’s homicide rate dropped 70% in the last 50 years, and the nation now has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world. A decline of this magnitude has been documented in few other contemporary social settings. One key feature of the fall is young Japanese males, who now commit one tenth as many homicides as their counterparts did in 1955. At present, Japan’s homicide rate is higher among men in their 50s than among males aged 20 to 24. 
    (Although if we count suicide as a form of murder, you’d actually be less likely to die of “lethal violence” if you were born and raised in Russia or South Africa instead of Japan)

  45. Historians, however, study them using appropriate tools, and social scientists with inappropriate ones. 
    Historians are technically considered social scientists, and a number of them use the same tools as economists. The ones who don’t are less likely to explain the causality behind a drop in crime. I’d like to know what those “appropriate tools” are. 
     
    These propositions are interpretations, not “theories.” 
    You are using a very non-standard definition for “theory”. Theory is unavoidable. Everyone views the world through a frame of theory, consciously or unconsciously. The most common kinds are “naive” or “folk” theories. 
     
    There is simply no way to verify whether they are true or false. To put it another way, there is no objective procedure which can test whether my interpretations are right or wrong. The judgment is as inescapably aesthetic as deciding whether a movie is good or bad. 
    There is no fact of the matter whether a movie is good or bad. There is a fact of the matter of whether an event occurs, and there is nothing theoretically stopping us from carrying out social science experiments on people. The question is can we discern causality? On that matter see Judea Pearl. 
     
    That’s quite a timespan to construct a line segment over! 
    More data pretty much always beats better algorithms, as they say. I think he put in as much as he could, and that was as far back as records went. 
     
    And the near endpoint is chosen very interestingly, as well 
    My guess is that Pinker chose the endpoint, because one of the things he discussed is that crime rose in the 60s so the point right before it illustrated how far it had fallen. 
     
    but it is well over 24 in many of England’s erstwhile domains 
    Was it above that when England was at 24? Also, Robert Lindsay has been discussing the subject here and in the comments to that post. 
     
    And the former seems to track the latter 
    Does it? Explain. 
     
    Henry Canaday: 
    The revolution in the criminal justice system per Warren Court decisions in the mid-1960s undoubtedly had something to do with the post- 1960s rise in crime, but how much is still in question. Basically, it cut the conviction rate per crime dramatically. 
    Freakonomics discusses this and also the backlash which reduced crime. I also found Bruce Benson’s “The Enterprise of Law” interesting on the topic.

  46. TGGP, the answer is no. We can’t determine causality. 
     
    The historian has only one tool: his pen. Or keyboard, as it were. His job is to explain what happened, using words. And numbers, graphs, pretty pictures, and even video, if it helps. History is a branch of literature, not a field of science. Don’t be stuck in that 20th-century box.  
     
    By “the former follows the latter,” all I mean is that the First World is slowly turning into the Third. No – this is not a testable hypothesis.

  47. TGGP – statistics that are a straight recording of what people observed are useful in giving history a dimension of quantity. Those are the kind of number Mencius cites. It’s the historical record of how many murders the police observed. 
     
    What the “social scientist” does is create equations, models, charts etc with these figures in trying to divine cause and effect. The process is complete numerology. There are always far, far more variables than available data. Furthermore, the process of selecting and weighting the variables introduces innumerable fudge factors. The result thus becomes extremely susceptible to the biases of the academic.  
     
    There is no easy way to determine cause and effect. You have to read the history. For instance, if you read crime reports from the 1920′s and notice that a lot of murders occurred between gangs of bootleggers, that might indicate that prohibition was a cause of the increase in crime.

  48. Mencius - 
     
    It seems likely to me that a significant portion of the reported increase in violence is due to increased reporting. Britain in 1900 was before the day of telephones in every home, pay phones on every street corner, and 911. My roommate works in social service, and works a child service department hotline and notes that people call up about all kinds of random crap. A fair amount is made up – a woman trying to get her boyfriend in trouble for instance. And given the civil service state’s pension for paperwork, it all gets filed. 
     
    I also recall reading ( I wish I could find the source) that in the 1800′s New York it was far more common for murder to go unreported. Bodies would end up in the river and no one would notice. This was a time when the city was filled with gangs. Now the Irish are peaceful and even Southie in Boston is gentrifying. Read Angela’s Ashes or All Soul’s should disabuse yourself of the notion that the past 30 years has been all decline. 
     
    As for the recent drop in crime, Peter Moskos (an example of a sociologist doing things the right way) spent a year in the Baltimore police department and reported that there was very little fudging of statistics. I do think that better trauma care has played a significant role in lowering the murder rate. I remember coming across a Boston Globe article a few years ago that said that the rate of knife wounds and gun shot wounds was the same over the past few decades, but that the survival rate had gone significantly up.

  49. One more note - 
     
    A lot of what we perceive as decline in the U.S. is the dramatically increased crime rate in the major northern cities. One theory I’ve heard promoted is that this was less the result of a breakdown in governance, and more the result of the great migration of poor, African-American sharecroppers from the south to the north. The southern cities ( Atlanta, Savannah, St. Louis, New Orleans ) always had a very high homicide rate ( as high as Cleveland or Baltimore has today). And that was under the ultimate, law and order, Jim Crow regime. As the African-American lower class moved from the southern cities to the northern cities, the crime came with them. The decline in crime rate in some American cities during the 1990′s ( such as New York and Boston), can be attributed to dramatically rising real estate prices that pushed the lower classes into ring cities such as Newark.

  50. History is a branch of literature, not a field of science. 
     
    Remember when Harry Potter assassinated Hitler and thus saved the dinosaurs? 
     
    Yeah, I’m a historian!

  51. Whatever “sociology” may be, it is certainly not an experimental discipline in which hypotheses can be rigorously confirmed or refuted. 
     
    The same goes for “social science,” and any other corruption of history – which is and always will be a literary form, and nothing more or less. 
     
    But you said history is also “only” literary and aesthetic. (lol btw) 
     
    A lot of contemporary social science isn’t very good social science, but it’s simply false and ridiculous to assert that society inherently can’t be (and isn’t ever) studied using the scientific method.  
     
    ‘Rigor’ (a slippery euphemism for full or “satisfactory” understanding) is not a prerequisite, or even a necessary outcome of the scientific method. Hypotheses can certainly be confirmed or disconfirmed in a manner sufficient for the operation of paradigmatic science*. 
     
    Physics is not the only possible or acceptable science. 
     
    And anyway if you believe science is only science when its strongly deterministic, sit back and wait. When we start linking social behavior to its molecular roots, social science will leave its delayed infancy. 
     
    * This is similar to recent suggestions by Jim Manzi in National Review that behavior genetics is not science because we can’t yet fully demonstrate causation at the the molecular level.  
     
    Slate’s Daniel Engber dubbed this branch of (always transparently ideological) self-refuting armchair nihilism “radical skepticism”.

  52. “The Irish today are peaceful…” 
    Somehow I doubt the WASPs of 19th century Boston cowered behind their brownstones for fear of rape and murder by Irish. The Irish had an extremely low rape rate, according to research by Hasia Diner, “Erin’s Daughters in America”. The Irish of that day would rather drink and fight than do sex of any kind. Cut down on embarrassment in the confessional. 
    The European immigrant group with the highest rape rate were the Slavs. Some Italians of course were doing cosa nostra, but it was members only for the most part. That’s why it was “nostra.” 
    Irish crime was predominantly drunkeness and gang fights. They also caused cholera epidemics in the first half of the 19th century, due to the crowded, unsanitary conditions. Boston had been one of the healthiest places in the world before that, so the natives had reason to dislike the new immigrants. However, the Irish were not given to vicious murder/rape/robbery on non-co-ethnics. They didn’t even do that stuff too much to each other, except in the “sectarian violence” in Ireland.  
    It just seems like the current crime rate in the urban areas will not change because the people committing most of them will not change. Seems like we’re stuck with them forever.

  53. This is similar to recent suggestions by Jim Manzi in National Review that behavior genetics is not science because we can’t yet fully demonstrate causation at the the molecular level. 
     
    It’s pointless to throw around the word science without defining it properly. My definition is that science is a rigorous process by which objective procedures can confirm statements about the real world. 
     
    Such procedures can certainly tell us that there is some correlation between trait X and behavior Y. In order to exclude the possibility that some confounding variable is producing this pattern – the famed “chopsticks gene,” for example – we often have to think intuitively and subjectively. 
     
    Thus, in order to obtain a meaningful result, we have both a scientific process, and one that is essentially literary and aesthetic. Lose either and the result has no validity. 
     
    At least as I can tell from the work that is high-profile and/or well-connected enough to reach the Gray Lady these days, it seems very easy for “social scientists” to finesse around the intuitive side of the problem, and emphasize the numbers, models, etc. Moreover, I usually find that the intuitive, phronetic side is the interesting one. 
     
    Thus my distaste for numbers in the study of society. Carlyle, as usual, expresses it more eloquently.

  54. TGGP, the answer is no. We can’t determine causality. 
    The answer to what? Also, we can never be absolutely 100% certain of anything, even in physics. Yet you yourself persist in discussing causality! 
     
    History is a branch of literature, not a field of science 
    Fiction is literature. I’m seconding Jason on Harry Potter. 
     
    Libra: 
    What the “social scientist” does is create equations, models, charts etc with these figures in trying to divine cause and effect 
    Much of mathematical modeling tends to be theoretical. The shift from modeling toward more empiricism and “natural experiments” in economics is discussed/criticized here
     
    For instance, if you read crime reports from the 1920′s and notice that a lot of murders occurred between gangs of bootleggers, that might indicate that prohibition was a cause of the increase in crime. 
    You might also want to examine whether crime dropped after prohibition, whether these same gangs had been fighting to a similar extent before prohibition, what effect the variance in prohibition enforcement had on different areas, whether the effect of prohibition was constant or varied over time, how previously dry counties compared to formerly wet counties and numerous other questions that social scientists examine. 
     
    Eliezer Yudkowsky discusses here (and in other posts) how science isn’t enough and doesn’t give procedures for, say, generating hypotheses (which may be overrated). And there can of course be questions as to what factors should be controlled for. That’s not a reason to throw up your hands and say “Why bother getting out of my arm-chair!” 
     
    Carlyle 
    Quoting Carlyle on such matters is like quoting Will Wilkinson. Economics is dismal, cold and hurtyful, retreat to airy-fairy blathering! On the plus-side, your inclination toward intuition means you might be a “sun person” free from the false consciousness of patriarchal western linear “science”. 
     
    Does astronomy qualify as science? How about evolutionary psychology? And can you give some examples of some especially egregious finessing around intuition along with some phronetic stuff that interests you?

  55. Quoting Carlyle on such matters is like quoting Will Wilkinson. 
     
    Every time Carlyle swabbed the wax out of his ears, he discarded more neurons than are in Will Wilkinson’s skull. 
     
    Does astronomy qualify as science? How about evolutionary psychology? And can you give some examples of some especially egregious finessing around intuition along with some phronetic stuff that interests you? 
     
    Predictions are tested and disproven in both astronomy and ev. psych. all the time, largely because improving experimental apparatus generates a steady stream of new results. 
     
    Really the classic case of antiphronesis has to be the way McNamara tried to fight the Vietnam War with game theory…

  56. The interest thing about the decline in crime circa 1930 is that there are at least two different candidates for a causative change, and they are both Federal laws: the 21st Amendment and the 1924 immigration law. I suspect they were both important. 
     
    Oh, I forgot to mention, the 1924 immigration law was racist (even though it didn’t mention race) and anti-semitic (even though its effects never differed between Jews and gentiles), as well as pre-figuring the current immigration debate (though the 1924 law did not regulate immigration from Mexico or Central America at all). 
     
    Okay, sarcasm completed.

  57. no one really “knows” why the massive social transformation discernible in the 60s across advanced nations re: crime and anomie started or why it abated in the 90s.  
     
    In the American context, this is indeed a “puzzle” for sociologists. There are other puzzles which will no doubt stump these Modern Day Epicyclists for decades, including this one 
     
    “The impact of HIV is so heterogeneous. In the US , the rate of infection among men in Washington DC is well over 100 times higher than in North Dakota, the region with the lowest rate. That is in one country. How do you explain such differences?” 
     
    and this one 
     
    One of the most disturbing, I think perhaps the most disturbing fact in our whole book is that black students coming from families earning over 70,000 are doing worse on their SATS, on average–it’s always on average–than white students from families in the lowest income group. You want to cry hearing that figure. I mean, it’s so terrible. 
     
    I don’t have an explanation for it. 
     
    and this 
     
    Memphis has always been associated with some amount of violence. But why has Elvis?s hometown turned into America?s new South Bronx? Barnes thinks he knows one big part of the answer, as does the city?s chief of police. A handful of local criminologists and social scientists think they can explain it, too. But it?s a dismal answer, one that city leaders have made clear they don?t want to hear. It?s an answer that offers up racial stereotypes to fearful whites in a city trying to move beyond racial tensions. Ultimately, it reaches beyond crime and implicates one of the most ambitious antipoverty programs of recent decades… 
     
    About six months ago, they decided to put a hunch to the test. Janikowski merged his computer map of crime patterns with Betts?s map of Section8 rentals. Where Janikowski saw a bunny rabbit, Betts saw a sideways horseshoe (?He has a better imagination,? she said). Otherwise, the match was near-perfect. On the merged map, dense violent-crime areas are shaded dark blue, and Section8 addresses are represented by little red dots. All of the dark-blue areas are covered in little red dots, like bursts of gunfire. The rest of the city has almost no dots. 
     
    Betts remembers her discomfort as she looked at the map. The couple had been musing about the connection for months, but they were amazed?and deflated?to see how perfectly the two data sets fit together. She knew right away that this would be a ?hard thing to say or write.? Nobody in the antipoverty community and nobody in city leadership was going to welcome the news that the noble experiment that they?d been engaged in for the past decade had been bringing the city down, in ways they?d never expected. But the connection was too obvious to ignore, and Betts and Janikowski figured that the same thing must be happening all around the country.  
     
    In Europe, you’d have to go country-by-country, but it’d be stunning if the majority of it couldn’t be attributed to a) restraints on police and b) more crime prone immigrants. Dysgenic effects might play a nontrivial role as well, as might the decline of ancient strictures re: religion, nationalism, civic duty, etc. It certainly *wasn’t* an inescapable feature of modernity, because Singapore held the line pretty well.  
     
    While I certainly don’t command enough (= any) German or Swedish to dig into the archives there for alternate explanations beyond Muslim immigration, in the American context there’s a pretty obvious answer. Things started in the 50′s, picked up speed in the 60′s. By the early 90′s enough had been imprisoned under 12 years of right-wing administrations (and thus Justice departments) that things started to tail off a bit, and neither Clinton nor Bush 2 was far to the left on criminal rights.  
     
    But just wait till this guy gets in power:  
     
    Thurgood Marshall did not argue Brown so that we would accept a country where too many African-American men end up in prison because we’d rather spend more to jail a 25-year-old than to educate a five-year-old.  
     
    … 
     
    Sometimes it takes a hurricane. And sometimes it takes a travesty of justice like the one we’ve seen in Jena, Louisiana. 
     
    There are some who will make Jena about the fight itself. And it’s true that we have to do more as parents to instill in our children that violence is always wrong. It’s wrong when it happens on the streets of Chicago and it’s wrong when it happens at a schoolyard in Louisiana. Violence is not the answer. Non-violence was the soul of the Civil Rights Movement, and we have to do a better job of teaching our children that virtue. 
     
    But we also know that to truly understand Jena, you have to look at what happened both before and after that fight. You have to listen to the hateful slurs that flew through the halls of a school. You have to know the full measure of the damage done by that arson. You have to look at those nooses hanging on that schoolyard tree. And you have to understand how badly our system of justice failed those six boys in the days after that fight – the outrageous charges; the unreasonable and excessive sentences; the public defender who did not call a single witness. 
     
    Like Katrina did with poverty, Jena exposed glaring inequities in our justice system that were around long before that schoolyard fight broke out. It reminds us of the fact that we have a system that locks away too many young, first-time, non-violent offenders for the better part of their lives – a decision that’s made not by a judge in a courtroom, but by politicians in Washington. It reminds us that we have certain sentences that are based less on the kind of crime you commit than on what you look like and where you come from. It reminds us that we have a Justice Department whose idea of prosecuting civil rights violations is trying to rollback affirmative action programs at our college and universities; a Justice Department whose idea of prosecuting voting rights violations is to look for voting fraud in black and Latino communities where it doesn’t exist. 
     
    … 
     
    It’s not always easy to stand up and say this. I commend those of you here at Howard who have spoken out on Jena 6 or traveled to the rally in Louisiana. I commend those of you who’ve spoken out on the Genarlow Wilson case. I know it can be lonely protesting this kind of injustice. I know there’s not a lot of glamour in it. 
     
    When I was a state Senator in Illinois, we had a death penalty system that had sent thirteen innocent people to death row. Thirteen innocent men – that we know of. I wanted to reform the system. And I was told by almost everyone that it wasn’t possible. That I wouldn’t be able to get police officers and civil rights advocates; Democrats and Republicans to all agree that we should videotape confessions to make sure they weren’t coerced. Folks told me that there was too much political risk involved. 
     
    But I believed that it was too risky not to act. And after awhile people with opposing views came together and started listening. And we ended up reforming that death penalty system. And we did the same thing when I passed a law to expose racial profiling. So don’t ever let anyone tell you that change isn’t possible. Don’t let them tell you that speaking out and standing up against injustice is too risky. What’s too risky is keeping quiet. What’s too risky is looking the other way. 
     
    I don’t want to be standing here and talking about another Jena four years from now because we didn’t have the courage to act today. I don’t want this to be another issue that ends up being ignored once the cameras are turned off and the headlines disappear. It’s time to seek a new dawn of justice in America. 
     
    From the day I take office as President, America will have a Justice Department that is truly dedicated to the work it began in the days after Little Rock. I will rid the department of ideologues and political cronies, and for the first time in eight years, the Civil Rights Division will actually be staffed with civil rights lawyers who prosecute civil rights violations, and employment discrimination, and hate crimes. And we’ll have a Voting Rights Section that actually defends the right of every American to vote without deception or intimidation. When flyers are placed in our neighborhoods telling people to vote on the wrong day, that won’t only be an injustice, it will be a crime. 
     
    As President, I will also work every day to ensure that this country has a criminal justice system that inspires trust and confidence in every American, regardless of age, or race, or background. There’s no reason that every single person accused of a crime shouldn’t have a qualified public attorney to defend them. We’ll recruit more public defenders to the profession by forgiving college and law school loans – and I will ask some of the brilliant minds here at Howard to take advantage of that offer. There’s also no reason we can’t pass a racial profiling law like I did in Illinois, or encourage state to reform the death penalty so that innocent people do not end up on death row. 
     
    I think it’s time we also took a hard look at the wisdom of locking up some first-time, non-violent drug users for decades. Someone once said that “…long minimum sentences for first-time users may not be the best way to occupy jail space and/or heal people from their disease.” That someone was George W. Bush – six years ago. I don’t say this very often, but I agree with the President. The difference is, he hasn’t done anything about it. When I’m President, I will. We will review these sentences to see where we can be smarter on crime and reduce the blind and counterproductive warehousing of non-violent offenders. 
     
    Lots to pick apart there, but you can start with Sailer’s point re: drug cases — someone caught with a bag of weed can’t shoot it to Stop it from Snitchin’:  
     
    When you hear somebody claim that the high rate of minorities in prison for drug possession proves the system is biased against them, just remember that Al Capone went to prison for tax evasion: 
     
    “Finding a witness to testify is almost impossible, police said. So gang members are rarely charged with violent felonies. Without witnesses, police must rely on cases they can make themselves, usually for narcotics possession.” 
     
    Physical evidence can’t be intimidated, so a lot of the perpetrators of unsolved violent crimes are cooling their heels in prison on drug possession charges.  
     
    …and you can also read Heather MacDonald on racial profiling.  
     
    But of course this will all fall on deaf ears. No Republican has the cojones to bring up the fact that blacks and Hispanics commit crimes at higher rates — e.g. that they comprise 89.4% (!!) of violent criminals in NYC as ID’d by the victim. So I await our new national anti-racial profiling laws. Podhoretz and the neocons will demagogue any rightist who speaks up, as they did on New Orleans. And the resulting Justice Department — which will focus its attention on “hate crimes” and “civil rights violations” rather than, y’know, *actual* crimes — is going to make life in the US verrrry interesting after Jan. 2009. 
     
    For those of y’all with Ph.D.’s and other fancy degrees, you might look into other options.  
     
    (PS: just try finding that previous pdf on the NYPD site…it took me a while to get it before hitting web.archive.org. The memory hole is very, very real.)

  58. For those of you who doubt… 
     
    http://www.finalcall.com/national/incarceration03-06-2001.htm 
     
    Black incarceration rates tripled during Clinton era 
     
    WASHINGTON?Former President Bill Clinton left a legacy in the prison system during his eight years in office that was more punitive than both of his Republican predecessors Ronald Reagan and George Bush combined, according to a new report from the Justice Policy Institute (JPI). 
     
    Furthermore, in the last two decades the rate of Black incarceration more than tripled, rising from 1,156 Blacks in jail per 100,000 Black citizens in 1980 when Mr. Reagan took office, to more than 3,620 per 100,000 Blacks in 1999, near the end of Mr. Clinton?s term, according to JPI?s report, “Too Little, Too Late: Clinton?s Prison Legacy.” 
     
    After more than a decade in which the Black incarceration rate increased by an average of 138.4 per 100,000 per year, more than doubling the number of Blacks in federal custody between 1980 and 1992, the Black incarceration rate continued to increase by an average of 100.4 per 100,000 during the Clinton era, according to the report. 
     
    “President Clinton stole the show from the ?tough on crime? Republicans,” said Vincent Schiraldi, JPI president on Feb. 19 when his group released its study to reporters. Mr. Clinton was “right to call for criminal justice reform in a recent Rolling Stone interview,” Mr. Schiraldi continued, referring to an end-of-his-term interview with the magazine. “He was wrong to do so little about it while he was in office.” 
     
    Ah, Clinton. Let’s give it up for America’s first black president!

  59. Agnostic: 
     
    In your very first comment, you used the term logistically. Logarithymically?

  60. Actually, logarithmic, now that I look at it. 
     
    And, by the way, did you hear about the three constipated mathematicians? 
     
    The first worked it out with a pencil and paper. 
    The next used his slide rule. 
    And the last used logs.

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