Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Franklin E. Zimring's "The City that Became Safe"

Franklin E. Zimring is the William G. Simon Professor of Law and chair of the Criminal Justice Research Program at the University of California, Berkeley. Since 2005, he has been the first Wolfen Distinguished Scholar at Boalt Hall School of Law. Zimring's recent books include The Great American Crime Decline and (with David T. Johnson) The Next Frontier: National Development, Political Change, and the Death Penalty in Asia.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The City that Became Safe: New York's Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control, and reported the following:
The book is a comprehensive analysis of New York’s record-breaking decline in crime and violence—more than 80% drops in most important crime categories in 19 years. What lessons about crime and its control can be learned from this story?

Page 99 of The City That Became Safe closes one of four chapters in the book where the implications of the New York story for specific policies are considered in detail. The chapter outlines the “war on drugs” assumptions of federal policy which assumed that only major reduction in heroin and cocaine use would cut drug-related violence and create safer streets. But page 99 tells us “the New York experience may be an outstanding example of successful influence on patterns of drug trade without any much greater suppression of drug traffic and use.” This produced a 90% drop in drug killings and the end of public drug markets but total drug use was relatively stable. The page concludes, “The city may be winning its war on crime (and on drug violence) without winning the war on drug abuse.”

Later chapters show similar lessons on increasing police effectiveness (Chapter 5), reducing the overuse of prisons (Chapter 7) and using our new knowledge of the variability of crime patterns to reduce crime in all big cities.
Learn more about The City that Became Safe at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue