“What the left and right got wrong about crime in 2015.”

That is the title of an op-ed on US crime by Thomas Abt.

To summarize, the increase in homicides appears real, but there is no broader national crime wave. It is unclear what is driving the problem, but my own hunch – and it is still just a hunch at this point – involves a criminological phenomenon called legal cynicism. Multiple studies have demonstrated that, controlling for other factors, when communities view the police and criminal justice system as illegitimate, they become more violent. When people believe the system is unwilling or unable to help them, they are more likely to take the law into their own hands, creating the cycles of violent retribution that were chronicled so vividly last year in Jill Leovy’s Ghettoside.

 

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