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NCJ Number: 180416 Find in a Library
Title: Rise and Fall of New York Murder: Zero Tolerance or Crack's Decline?
Journal: British Journal of Criminology  Volume:39  Issue:4  Dated:Autumn 1999  Pages:531-554
Author(s): Benjamin Bowling
Date Published: 1999
Page Count: 24
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: The central issue addressed in this paper is whether or not it is justifiable to base a crime policy of "zero tolerance" on New York City's experience of a striking reduction in homicide in New York City between 1991 and 1997 under the aggressive policy of "zero tolerance."
Abstract: The evidence that changes in policing policy made "all the difference" is largely circumstantial. Homicide rates were at an all-time high in 1990-91 and had begun to decline before any radical changes in policing policy were instituted. The 1985-91 "murder spike" had been attributed largely to the simultaneous expanding crack cocaine "epidemic" so the subsequent reduction in murder is related logically to the contraction of crack cocaine markets in the 1990's. There is some tentative support for the impact of policing on an already falling crime rate, but the changes in policing between 1991 and 1997 cannot adequately be described as "zero tolerance." The changing social context (decline in the use and dealing of crack cocaine), together with the combined effect of preventive work among local communities and a rejection of crack cocaine and guns by a new generation of youth provides a credible alternative account to that generated by the media-smart New York City police. The author advises that when violent crime declines, there must be rigorously collected evidence to explain what is happening. Without such evidence, explanations will be offered by powerful people with a political interest in claiming that they are responsible for improving the "quality" of city life. 42 footnotes and 72 references
Main Term(s): Police effectiveness
Index Term(s): Crack; Crime control policies; Drug smuggling; Homicide causes; Murder; New York; Violence causes
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