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Full Version: The Cultural Roots of Crime
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Interesting article although I don't entirely agree it:

Quote:Barry Latzer is that rare academic with both practical and theoretical knowledge of his subject matter. He prosecuted and defended accused criminals while teaching at the City University of New York graduate center and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. His new book, The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America, makes use of more than a century of crime statistics to sum up the wisdom of a long career studying why crime waves rise and fall. It’s a book that does not shy from the controversial, as you’ll see from our conversation...
On an older crime wave:

Quote:Violent crime peaked in the early 1930s, with a wave of bank robberies by “Pretty Boy” Floyd, “Baby Face” Nelson, John Dillinger, and Bonnie and Clyde Barrow. This was accompanied by the sensational kidnap-murder of the Lindbergh baby in 1932 and a spate of copycat kidnappings. J. Edgar Hoover made his name by directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to hunt down and capture or kill these “Public Enemies,” as he labeled them, and by 1934 the FBI or local agents had successfully done so with each of them. 

If the FBI and angry police weren't catching and killing crooks in shootouts, the electric chair was putting an end to the lives of murderers, kidnappers, and (especially in the South) rapists. Convicts were being electrocuted, hanged, or gassed soon after conviction for capital crimes. People with violent tendencies knew that violent crime came to know that if they did not get mowed down they would die in a gruesome way -- neck sprung, fried by electricity, or mass cell death by cyanide poisoning. As I recall 1935 was the peak year for executions in America. For those who committed crimes such as armed robbery that did not get the death penalty, prison terms typically involved very hard labor such as road construction practically by hand. So if you are thinking as you drive on California 1 between Carmel and Morro Bay that those who did the construction must have loved the view -- the people who build the road were convicts. It wasn't quite as bad as the Burma Railroad, but it was nasty work. Police got better organized, the FBI taking away the old loophole of state lines. The Barrow gang had exploited state lines, typically crossing a state line to commit a crime and taking sanctuary due to poor police work in their own state. That came to an end.

With so many poor people struggling to make honest living, crime was extremely unpopular. There may have been people  fascinated by the antics of "public enemies", but the message became clear: do crime and endure death or a fate close to death. 

Later, late-wave Boomers and early-wave Generation X had a spike in crime in a culture almost diametrically opposite
that of the 1930s. Abortions reduced the number of troubled kids, and leaded gas got phased out. Lead contributes to two pathologies that lead to crime: learning disabilities (criminals are generally below average in intelligence) and poor control of impulses. Figure that the Awakening Era was a time in which working people were rich by 1930s (and probably 2010s!) standards, and property crime such as burglary and outright robbery could easily serve a heroin habit. The highest crime rates in just about any city were the populated areas closest to the city centers, where traffic was slowing down and beginning to turn off the freeways. The Interstate Highway system, largely completed in the 1970s, allowed middle-class people to have manageable commutes from the new suburbs to core cities, but the cars taking those  commuters downtown belched out lead. Early exposure to lead was particularly damaging, so figure that kids born in the mid-1950s started getting heavy doses of lead if they were stuck in a core city or its immediate surroundings. Example: on the east side of San Francisco Bay, crime rates steadily rose as one got closer to Downtown Oakland, practically mile by mile -- and so did highway congestion. Fremont may have been relatively safe from crime, but Union City, Hayward, San Lorenzo, San Leandro, and Oakland got progressively worse... and the closer that one got to the approach to the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge the worse the violent crime rates got.

The Boom Awakening was also the Sexual Revolution when sexual mores loosened. But people frustrated about their sex lives because they were 'undesirable' often turned to rape to get some gratification.  Criminal puni9shyments were comparatively slight by 1930s standards. The chain gangs were gone.

As in the 1930s, police technologies got better, and such made getting away with a crime more difficult. Eventually law enforcement caught up with the likes of Ted Bundy, John Gacy, and Alton Coleman. The serial killer started to be caught after one or two murders instead of twenty or more. Law enforcement started profiling suspects. DNA evidence made traces of evidence good for tracking down crooks.

So we had a crime peak around the start of the last 4T and a trough around the start of the current 4T. It's not simply the generational mechanics at play.