What's Behind the New Violent Crime Wave?


Here's a report from the Cincinnati Enquirer on the Queen City's dramatic increase in homicides: From a recent low of 40 in 2000, the city has already suffered 79 murders to date, tying last year's total, with the thick of the holiday season yet to come. The city's postwar record for killings, 82, was set in 1950.

Cincinnati's trend is being seen in other small-to-mid-size cities. According to a new Time story:

Not only did crime suddenly begin to rise in 2005, but the most violent crimes led the trend. Homicides shot up 3.4%. Robberies, 3.9%. Aggravated assaults, 1.8%. Hardest hit were not metropolises like New York City and Los Angeles but cities with populations between 400,000 and 1 million–such as Baltimore, Md.; Charlotte, N.C.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Oakland, Calif.–and this year looks to see similar rates of increase, if not worse.

Time runs through some of the likely reasons for the surge in crime: More young men, who are most likely to commit crime, around due to demographic shifts; relatively depressed economies in places such as Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and St. Louis; fewer cops on the streets and more parolees on same.

Whole story here.

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  1. Many of these young men used to go into the Military. Back in the 1970s it was common place for a Judge to say to a youthful offender, “Boy, you’ve got two options, go straight to jail or talk to the friendly recruiter over here to my side, and he’ll sign you up for the Army.”

    Nowadays, that practice has virtually dissappeared. On one side the Army and the other branches have beefed up their requirements to the point where less than 2% of Army recruits are admitted without a high school diploma. On the other side, you’ve got big city ultra-liberal judges who despise the Military who no longer suggest it as an alternative to sentencing.

    Thus, a glut of youthful, hormonal male offenders on the streets.

    The Draft is never a good option. But gentle persuasion of otherwise troubled young men that a stint in the Military might be a better option than hard jail time, might be in order.

  2. In Milwaukee, almost all the shootings take place in North Side census tracts that are almost exclusively populated by African-Americans, or near South Side ones where Hispanic immigration has replaced the old Polish population of the neighborhood. In both cases gang confrontations are a large part of the problem, but there is also a sort of code duello operating, as being “disrespected” leads to frequent violence. Of course, violence connected to the drug trade intersects with the gang problem.

    The homicide rate would be even worse than the 100+ we are sure to see this year, as many are shot and survive, due to excellent medical care. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did a three-part series on the problem, in what is no doubt a bit of blatant Pulitzer-fishing, but still has some good info.


  3. It’s the economy, stupid.

  4. On the other side, you’ve got big city ultra-liberal judges who despise the Military who no longer suggest it as an alternative to sentencing.

    Logical problem – What would be the point of any judge – liberal or otherwise – offering military service to sentencing when the military refuses to take them?

    And while I’m sure that liberal judges exist, I doubt they represent the problem you think they do. Federal and state judiciaries have trended conservative over the past few decades.

    You’re just repeating the same false info you heard on talk radio about “activist judges.” 90% of all federal judges hve been appointed by conservative presidents.

  5. What do you do about chronic stupidity? These little bastards join these gangs and inevitably end up either dead or in prison. Yet, despite the obvious downsides of gang memberships, continue to do it. If they would just shoot each other, I really wouldn’t care; just God thinning the herd a little bit. Unfortuneatly they end up destroying the lives and neighborhoods of the people around them. I don’t see a sollution beyond just locking them up at as early and age as possible and keeping them there until they are too old to cause any harm.

  6. Disrespect, not just a motivational tool for professional sports anymore.

  7. but there is also a sort of code duello operating, as being “disrespected” leads to frequent violence.

    Interesting to note that “Respect”, in terms of a criminal or gang community, is completely external.

    Getting “dissed” concerns how others treat you. “Street cred” concerns how others perceive you. “Respect” is largely about how much others fear you. “Frontin” has many uses but at least a few are about showing others you’re something you’re not.

    There’s no trancendance there. No sense of higher purpose. No notion of self-respect.

    When you have no self-respect – because you’re an illiterate, violent piece of garbage – you have to look for it outside you.

  8. It’s the economy, stupid.

    Considering that the economy has been pretty damn healthy for the last few years, its hard to see how?

    Unless sandman is arguing that year-on-year of job growth and low unemployment drive violent crime, that is.

  9. What’s amazing — and somewhat impressive — about the article is that they don’t appear to even mention the expiration of the Assault Weapons ban in 2004.

    As Forrest Gump’s Mama used to say, Miracles Happen Every Day.

  10. far be it from me to jump on the parade, but codes of honor and obsession with respect is also a facet of being surrounded by more violent than average people (it is also a feature of popular music and guidos, etc. though the guidos can claim descent from a earlier incarnation of an honor culture).

    therefore, an obsession with respect in some quarters isn’t some weird dr. phil lack of self-respect, but rather a gauge of physical safety.

  11. Eric,

    We’re looking at an increase in violent crime that has occurred since 2000 in small-medium sized cities. Whatever a judge did in 1975 is pretty damned irrelevant. And while you mourn these changes for some reason, the Army doesn’t. The quality of solider has improved dramatically since the early eighties (although it’s starting to decline again), and no one in the military wants to go back to an Army of gangbangers and dropouts.

  12. To make a parallel, codes of “honor” and obsession with respect, leading to violence, is also an endemic problem in Islamic countries.

  13. To make a parallel, codes of “honor” and obsession with respect, leading to violence, is also an endemic problem in Islamic countries.

    What he said.

  14. Shot up 3.4%? Small sample size?

    John, you are at least a jerk and probably a racist.

    During the height of prohibition, many Irish and Italian Americans turned to running booze. Often these people killed each other in various conflicts over territory and deals gone sour. Notwithstanding the downside of risk of death, people kept getting into this line of work for as long as it was available. Ultimately we all percieved what the problem was and repealed the idiocy of Prohibition. Now we have illegal drugs. Unsurprisingly, lots of young, poorly educated kids with limited futures in the legit economy join gangs and get in “the game.” Instead of reviewing our drug policies for possible salutory changes, such as outright repeal, we just lable them ignorant bastards and sneer while they make their way to an early grave or to prison.

    Why did we repeal Prohibition instead of just letting those ignorant Irish and Italian bastards of the 1920’s die or rot in prison? Where did all those ignorant bastards go when the law changed? Why are today’s ignorant bastards so much easier to write off than the ones from yesteryear? Is it because they are black and hispanic and we all know that its their “character” that drives the problem?

    Whatever. All people like you need to know is that its blacks and hispanics who are dying. Now you can ignore the problem and go back to bitching about some marginal tax rate.

  15. Why did we repeal Prohibition instead of just letting those ignorant Irish and Italian bastards of the 1920’s die or rot in prison?

    Because by 1929, America really needed a beer and a shot of bourbon.

    Where did all those ignorant bastards go when the law changed?

    The Italians joined the Mafia an the Irish became cops…thus continuing the tradition along a more structured framework.

  16. Hmmmm….I wonder if the fact that we’ve made it harder to manufacture and transport meth has anything to do with that?

  17. with all due respect, neil paul, your over-simplification is as bad as john’s.

    It’s not racist to find contempt in people who – for whatever reason – resort to sensless violence, rape and murderas a daily lifestyle choice.

    Certainly the drug war and stupid laws that allow the hip hop culture to idolize ‘gangsta’ bs are major contributors.

    But blaming it all on drugs prohibition misses other big factors including racism and serious cultural issues.

    Large rates of unwed pregnancies, reliance on welfare, drug use and abuse, lack of fathers or structured, consistent familial settings, lack of respect for education, lack of interest in developing technical skills, glorification of dead-end lifestyles in the urban pop culture and few effective role models are causes as much as symptoms.

    The whole system feeds itself in misery.

    At this point in the game, just legalizing drugs would trade one problem for another. And it would do little to solve the problems that now exist that have nothing to do with drugs.

  18. Maybe the military should allow any countryman (or -woman) to join, regardless of background or physical ability. (Even those with criminal records – we could have our own Foreign Legion of men with no past.)

    Remember in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, the federal services would take anyone, because no citizen could be denied the right of Service? Surely there are plenty of jobs in our military services that permit physical disabilities (desk work) or lower I.Q.’s (grunt work)?

  19. Capital idea, Todd!

    I, for one, am tired of misplaced idealism in American politics – whether from the right or the left. What we need now is some good ol’ fashioned realism.

    Warehouseing drug users and giving them records where – from the first infraction – their futures are ruined and their potential opportunities are gone and almost beyond redemption, is proving to be silly.

    I knew guys – Vietnam vets and such – who loved the Army because it helped them turn their lives around and gave them something better to strive for.

    Now obviously you don’t want crazed psychopaths, but lot’s of kids might benefit from the chance to go beyond themselves. At the very least, we could eliminate the need for these stupid, fake “teen bootcamps” that do little more than bully kids in a state-approved setting.

  20. I just moved to Milwaukee from Seattle. Same crap different place. I just thought it was better here. Boy, was I wrong. Next move, Boston.

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