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January 25, 2023

"From Causal Mechanisms to Policy Mechanisms: Why Did Crime Decline and What Lessons Can Be Learned from It?"

The newest issue of the American Journal of Criminal Justice has a bunch of new interesting articles on criminal justice reform.  The title of this post is the title of this article from the issue authored by John K. Roman.  Here is its abstract:

Criminology has not systematically identified the cause or causes of perhaps the most seminal event in crime and justice of the last half century: the crime decline of the 1990s. This paper uses a causes-of-effects analysis to infer the mechanisms of the crime decline.  This is not a purely academic exercise — there has been a large increase in violence, particularly gun violence at the beginning of the 2020s.  Identifying the mechanisms of the last crime decline can inform the development of contemporary strategies.  Here, two classes of crime decline causes are proposed: mechanisms that are endogenous to the criminal law system and mechanisms that are exogenous to it.  The latter class includes impacts of changes in macroeconomics, consumer behavior, and public interest policy where positive externalities that arose from those factors contributed to the crime decline.  A descriptive effect of causes analysis suggests that these exogenous mechanisms contributed disproportionately to the crime decline as compared to endogenous mechanisms. Further, consumer behavior and public interest externalities are well aligned with potential policy levers and particularly salient to current and future efforts to reduce crime and violence prospectively.  The analysis suggests that efforts to improve public safety require policies that fall outside of traditional criminal justice approaches.

January 25, 2023 at 10:04 AM | Permalink


Hmmm. An understanding across all parties that crime was out of control, increased gun ownership by the law-abiding and the brutal logic of incarceration. Not. That. Hard.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 25, 2023 12:13:02 PM

More academic jargon to obscure the truth, which is well known. Two important sources of the crime decline were the aging of the Baby Boom population bulge, and the massive increase in private surveillance and security. Public policy did not much affect these things one way or the other.

The other important sources were public policy choices the pro-criminal crowd hates (and therefore falsely denies): More police, more pro-active and computer-assisted policing, and more prosecutions and greater use of incarceration.

Possibly there were other things in play as well, but those were the biggies. Everyone in the field knows it and has known it for years.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 25, 2023 1:36:39 PM

You don’t need even a high school diploma to figure out what this maroon failed to figure out.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jan 26, 2023 2:50:53 PM

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