Archive for June 12, 2012
You may recall Jasper as the East Texas town that gained international notoriety in June 1998 when a trio of white men abducted and murdered a black man, James Byrd Jr., by dragging him behind a truck. Since then, whites and blacks had united to build harmony in their community. The first African-American police chief in the East Texas timber town of Jasper, whose 2011 appointment by a then-black majority City Council launched a political firestorm that ended in the recall of three black council members, has been fired.
In a racially divided, 4-1, vote, the white-majority council voted Monday to oust Rodney Pearson, who previously had been Jasper fire chief and a state highway trooper. Pearson’s attorney Cade Bernsendenounced the move as “outrageous.” Jasper Mayor Mike Loutcould not be reached Tuesday, but the Web site of his radio station, KJAS, confirmed Pearson’s termination and announced the interim appointment of former Police Chief Harlan Alexanderto take his place.
That racial harmony disintegrated last summer when largely white opponents of Pearson’s appointment launched a drive to recall three black City Council members. The effort succeeded in removing Willie Land, Tommy Adams and Terrya Norsworthy from office. Their positions were filled with white candidates. Jasper blacks launched an effort to recall Lout, who is white. The effort was defeated in May. Bernsen said a complaint on Pearson’s behalf was filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April. He said it will be amended to include the chief’s dismissal. “They hauled him up there and literally peppered him with questions,” Bernsen said of Monday’s session. “They accused him of taking too much vacation, that he was $3,000 over budget, that he hadn’t gone to the scene of a couple of crimes. In my mind, it’s just bias. It’s nit picking.” Bernsen said Pearson’s wife was fired from her job at a Jasper medical clinic, a position she had held more than 15 years, about three weeks ago.
As objectively as I can possibly be…something is really wrong in Greensburg, Indiana. Before you assume that I am picking on Greensburg, consider this. The Decatur County seat in southeastern Indiana has a population of close to 11,500. Greensburg is known for a tree that grows out of it’s courthouse roof. There are some fine people from Greensburg…I know several…personally. What’s concerning is that Greensburg has made national new headlines over the past couple of years for some concerning reasons.
It is in Greensburg that a video made by a 4-year old boy went viral as he sang an anti-gay song in a church while it’s members stomped, applauded and cheered. It was in Greensburg that the suicide of 15-year old Billy Lucas made national headlines in the fall of 2010 after he was kicked, punched and bullied in the halls of Greensburg High School. “It’s OK to be gay,” a teacher at Greensburg High School in Indiana told me back in 2010, “as long as you aren’t from here.” “We teach tolerance and even afford tolerance to those considered outside but to our own, we are merciless in our disgust,” the educator adds.
The death of children is kind of a norm in Greensburg. The town made headlines again last year when 12-year old Devon Parson’s was beaten to death for hiding his Mom and boyfriend’s dope. Growing up should never be as hard as it seems to be in Greensburg and for some in Greensburg…it’s damn near impossible. The Indianapolis NBC affiliate, WTHR, is reporting that the Indiana attorney general is asking the State Supreme Court to reinstate the conviction of Kristine Bunch. Bunch’s crime? 1996 on arson and murder charges in the death of her three-year-old son Tony following a fire in her Greensburg mobile home in June 1995. She was sentenced to 60 years in prison. 1996 arson and murder charges in the death of her three-year-old son Tony following a fire in her Greensburg mobile home in June 1995. She was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
In March of this year, after serving 16 years in prison, an appeals court ruled her conviction should be tossed out because new toxicology reports showed her son died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The court said the carbon monoxide finding suggests the fire started in the ceiling and was not intentionally set. The court also said prosecutors withheld evidence in the case. Now instead of giving Bunch a new trial in Decatur County, the attorney general is asking to have the case transferred to the Indiana Supreme Court and to have the Appeals Court ruling overturned. The state said the evidence regarding the ceiling was not new and contradicts statements Bunch told investigators after the fire. Attorneys with the Northwestern University Center for Wrongful Conviction took on Kristine Bunch’s case and won post-conviction relief with the help of Chicago attorney Ron Safer. Name 4 towns with a population of under 12,000 that have similar headlines making national network news. OK…just name one other one. You won’t…you can’t because something smells in Greensburg and it is at the least concerning. Growing up should never be this hard.
CNN is reporting late this afternoon that Georgia officials will not approve the application of a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan to “adopt” a one-mile stretch of highway in North Georgia near the North Carolina state line. The state official did not want to be named because the official was not authorized to speak on the record. The Klan chapter wanted to clean a stretch of highway in Union County, Georgia, according to paperwork obtained by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on Monday.
The application, which sought state approval for cleaning up a one-mile portion of Georgia State Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains, was filed by the International Keystone Knights of the KKK on May 21. The chapter did not immediately respond to messages left Tuesday by CNN. Previously it said it would approach the American Civil Liberties Union if its application were denied. “All we want to do is adopt a highway,” April Chambers, the chapter’s secretary, said Monday. “We’re not doing it for publicity. We’re doing it to keep the mountains beautiful. People throwing trash out on the side of the road … that ain’t right.” “We’re not racists,” Chambers said. “We just want to be with white people. If that’s a crime, then I don’t know. It’s all right to be black and Latino and proud, but you can’t be white and proud. I don’t understand it.”
A similar request in Missouri set off a legal battle that stretched for years and went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. A Ku Klux Klan chapter there sought to adopt a portion of Interstate 55. A federal appeals court ruled the state could not bar the KKK from participating in the program, and the high court declined to review the case, letting that ruling stand. However, the Missouri Department of Transportation eventually kicked the KKK, a white supremacy group, out of the program because members were not picking up trash as agreed, spokesman Bob Brendel said Monday. The state also named the stretch of I-55 after civil rights activist Rosa Parks, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Georgia has been participating in the Adopt-A-Highway program for more than 20 years. The program provides advertising for sponsors who agree to clean a stretch of road on a sign posted along the stretch. “Any civic-minded organization, business, individual, family, city, county, state, or federal agency is welcome to volunteer in the Georgia Adopt-A-Highway program,” the DOT website says. Chambers said the group is more than 100 strong. “We have a lot of support,” she said. “I don’t see why we can’t (adopt the stretch of highway),” she said. “Would it be any different if it was the Black Panthers or something? Someone always has some kind of race card.”
On its website, the International Keystone Knights of the KKK says it is “fed up with the Federal tyranny and oppression of Reconstruction, and the time was ripe for Clandestine Armed Resistance.” The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, lists the KKK as “the most infamous — and oldest — of American hate groups.” “Over the years since it was formed in December 1865, the Klan has typically seen itself as a Christian organization, although in modern times Klan groups are motivated by a variety of theological and political ideologies,” the law center’s website says.
Dallas, Texas this afternoon.
Retired Brig. Gen. Richard Coleman, seen in this 2000 file photo, called the scandal at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland “a great embarrassment” to the Air Force. Photo: Kin Man Hui, En / en
LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — (DMN) – The Air Force said Monday that it has removed 35 instructors in San Antonio from their jobs in less than a year for a variety of reasons, including illicit sexual conduct. The one-time head of the service’s Security Forcescommand called the number “extraordinary.” “For that many people to have been removed from that program, in my knowledge and experience, is unheard of, because the numbers in that period of time are mind-boggling,” retired Brig. Gen. Richard Colemansaid Monday.
The 35 instructors make up about 8 percent of the 473 men and women who will train 36,000 recruits in San Antonio this year. The Air Force revealed the removal number under a federal Freedom of Information Act request by the San Antonio Express-News, saying the instructors at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland had been “temporarily or permanently removed from duty for unprofessional conduct” since last summer. “I can say this,” said Col. Polly Kenny, staff judge advocate for the 2nd Air Force in Biloxi, Miss. “A majority of the 35 were removed for things other than sexual misconduct.”
The Air Force, which had refused to release the number, began removing the instructors after Col. Glenn Palmer, commander of the 737th Training Groupat Lackland, took over July 1, the service’s FOIA manager said in his letter to the newspaper. Just a week before Palmer took command, Staff Sgt. Luis A. Walkerwas removed from his instructor’s job over misconduct allegations. He is charged with having illicit sexual conduct with 10 women in basic and technical training, including intercourse with four of them. But Walker, who faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, was only the start of a sex scandal that is the worst of its kind ever at Lackland, according to base officials, triggering a makeover in training for new instructors and warnings to recruits to be on guard against misconduct.
After a plea deal, Peter Vega-Maldonado told of more improper relationships. Photo: Lisa Krantz, SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
Walker, Staff Sgts. Kwinton Estacio and Craig LeBlanc, and Airman Peter Vega-Maldonado have been charged with sexual misconduct. The Air Force is studying cases against other instructors, but it won’t say how many. A former staff sergeant, Vega dropped a bombshell while testifying in an evidentiary hearing, revealing that he had been involved with 10 women — not just one, the number involved in his plea deal. The Air Force has given no details in the nine other cases. Coleman, the retired general, wasn’t sure if the widening scandal reflected a problem in the command climate, but he said an investigation was warranted.
One is under way. Asked about potential problems with poor leadership at Lackland, home of Air Force basic training, Gen. Edward Rice Jr. said it’s “a part of an entire review” being done. “I don’t presume that there are command-climate issues, but it’s not something that I am ignoring the possibility of either, and so this review will be comprehensive and will look at every aspect of basic military training to include the command structure,” said Rice, head of the Air Education and Training Command. The Air Force, in responding to the FOIA request, did not say how many instructors were yanked from their jobs for maltreatment, bad training or illicit sexual conduct. It also did not say why or when Palmer decided to remove each instructor. Palmer, in a statement, said some instructors were removed because they had medical, academic and “broader career issues” such as repeated tardiness, speeding or failing to meet uniform standards.
“Though there are (instructors) charged with sexual misconduct, to delineate which or how many (instructors) were removed for sexual misconduct violations would be inappropriate prior to the completion of an ongoing investigation,” he said. Coleman, a Lackland enlistee who retired 43 years later as Security Forces commander, said it didn’t matter why so many instructors were booted out of the trainer corps. “In my experience that’s an extraordinary number of people to be removed from a program where you’re supposed to hand-pick the cream of the folks that come here and perform that duty,” he said, calling the scandal “a great embarrassment to the Air Force.”
General Edward Rice said the Air Force responded to the scandal by suspending training for a day while surveying 5,500 trainees, “asking them if they’ve experienced or observed any sexual misconduct.” Trainees are now briefed in their first days about sexual assault awareness, and changes have been made in the way instructors are trained. While such cases have occurred at Lackland in the past, the Air Force has said the allegations against Walker are the worst of their kind in the installation’s history. Vega’s revelations that he was involved with 10 women have prompted questions of how something like that could occur in basic training, where recruits are rarely alone and can alert superiors to misconduct.Rice wouldn’t offer his view of what might have happened. As head of the training command, his comments could influence the legal process. “The reason I’ve directed a thorough investigation of the entire basic military training system is to make sure we understand exactly what conditions exist there and what we need to do to further strengthen all of the policies and procedures, and until I’ve seen the result of that, I don’t want to prematurely make any comments about what we may find or may not find as part of that,” he said.
Georgia officials may find themselves in a bit of a pinch as the Ku Klux Klan wants to “adopt” a stretch of highway in North Georgia, which would allow the white supremacy group to receive official state recognition for cleaning litter from the road. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Georgia Department of Transportation is reviewing the May 21 request filed by International Keystone Knights of the KKK in Union County and are set to meet with lawyers from the state attorney general’s office today to decide what to do.
The application — which covers a one-mile stretch of Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains near the North Carolina border — has placed Georgia officials in a bind. A lengthy legal battle took place in Missouri after that state sought to ban an effort by the KKK to adopt a road there. Missouri eventually lost, with courts holding that the First Amendment prevented the state from denying an applicant because it disagreed with their viewpoint. Georgia officials could be forced to choose between approving the application in Union County, denying it and facing a likely legal fight or sidestepping the problem by ending the state’s 23-year-old Adopt-A-Highway program, where participants volunteer to beautify state highways in exchange for road signs advertising their efforts.
Why does the Klan want to clean up a highway? Harley Hanson, who filed the application and said he is the exalted cyclops of the Klan’s Realm of Georgia, said the group is simply trying to be civic-minded. “We just want to clean up the doggone road,” the 34-year-old electrician from Blairsville, said in an interview with an Atlanta newspaper. “We’re not going to be out there in robes.” Hanson said if he is denied, he’ll sue and would seek help from the American Civil Liberties Union, which assisted in the Missouri lawsuit.
Knighthawk (from left), April Hanson and her husband Harley Hanson, members of the International Keystone Knights Realm of Georgia, perform a traditional Klan salute along the portion of highway they want to adopt allowing them to put up a sign and do litter removal near Blairsville on Sunday, June 10, 2012. Harley Hanson, the Exalted Cyclops of the group, said “how can you say beautiful mountains and streams if trash is piled up on the side of the road.”(ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION PHOTO)
Georgia State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, head of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials called on state officials to reject the application from a “domestic terrorist group” even if it means a costly legal fight. “This is about membership building and rebranding their name in a public way,” the Atlanta Democrat said of the KKK. “If the state approves [their application] then they are complicit.” Georgia’s “Adopt A Highway” program, similar to ones in other states, began in 1989, enlisting volunteers to supplement state cleanup efforts. Each group adopts at least a one-mile stretch of road, agreeing to remove litter from both sides of the highway at least four times a year for a two-year period.
Such programs have become more popular as states have struggled with budget crunches that have left dollars for cleanup in short supply. Georgia sets very broad guidelines for who may take part. According to the state Department of Transportation website, “any civic-minded organization, business, individual, family, city, county, state, or federal agency is welcome to volunteer in the Georgia Adopt-A-Highway program.” Each volunteer group must have at least six members, with three backup members. In addition to litter cleanup, Adopt-A-Highway volunteers groups may also contribute wildflower seeds, develop a public awareness campaign on litter prevention and remove graffiti.
The KKK began during Reconstruction as vigilante group to intimidate Southern blacks, using lynchings and cross burnings, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit group which monitors hate groups. Klan membership was once estimated in the millions but it has seen its influence wane over the years, especially since the 1970s. Today, while some factions of the Klan have preserved an openly racist philosophy, others have tried to enter the mainstream, describing their agenda as “civil rights for whites.” The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that there are between 5,000 and 8,000 Klan members, split among dozens of different organizations that use the Klan name.
In Georgia, the group has not had much visible presence in recent years. Hanson said his group espouses white pride in much the same way groups promoting blacks and Hispanics do. “I love my race. Does that make me wrong? I’m proud to be white,” he said. “We are good, decent Christian Americans, and what we’re trying to do is to work with the local community.” But Brooks said by seeking to enter the mainstream — on par with other groups like the Kiwanis clubs and churches that participate in the Adopt-A-Highway programs — the KKK becomes even more dangerous. “What’s next, are we going to let Neo-Nazis or the Taliban or al-Qaida adopt highways?” Brooks said. He called it “frightening” that in 2012, Georgia was even considering an application from the Klan. “They have to say no. If it brings a lawsuit, so be it. If it ends the program, so be it,” he said.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN and WXIA-TV contributed to this report.
Shiner, Texas is about 127 miles Southwest of Houston.
SHINER, Texas — (DMN) – No arrests are likely after a father of a 4-year-old girl apparently beat a man to death who was seen allegedly molesting the child in rural Lavaca County Saturday afternoon, authorities said. The death occurred about 3:45 p.m. at a horse barn along County Road 302 near Shiner, about 127 miles west of Houston, said Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon. Harmon said the victim, a 47-year-old Gonzales man, died at the scene. His name has not been released because his next of kin has not yet been notified of the death.
Harmon told the Associated Press it appears the father’s story is accurate and he has not been arrested. The case will be presented to a grand jury to determine what, if any, charges will be filed. Harmon said the father and daughter were at their barn with several other people to groom and care for horses there. The Gonzales man came with some of the other people, but was not well-known, if at all, to the father and child. The girls grandfather told Houston NBC affiliate, KPRC-TV, that the child and her brother were playing as the grownups worked. He gave her a bucket of feed and said she could go feed the chickens. While she feeding the fowl in their pen, the Gonzales man took the girl into some brush on the property, the grandfather told KPRC. He said another child saw what had happened and ran to tell the girl’s 23-year-old father. He found them in the brush.
Harmon said as the girl’s father was pulling the man away from the child, he hit the man several times in the head. The girl was taken to DeTar hospital in Victoria to be evaluated and to have tests done to determine if a sexual assault occurred. She was released later and is with her family. The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office is expected to perform an autopsy on the victim to determine what caused his death. Many Shiner residents told Houston CBS affiliate, KHOU-TV, that they didn’t think he should be charged at all. “I don’t think he should be arrested for it. I don’t think any charges should be filed,” one resident said. “Everybody’s been talking about the same thing, and they would’ve did the same thing,” another said. “He got what he well deserved,” another resident said of the dead man. Sheriff Harmon, who is also a dad, would not say if he thought charges should be filed. Killings are rare in rural Lavaca County. Harmon said his office has only investigated six since in his eight years as sheriff.
KHOU-TV, KTRK-TV and KPRC-TV contributed to this report.
According to the FBI’s Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report released today, the nation experienced a 4.0 percent decrease in the number of violent crimes and a 0.8 percent decline in the number of property crimes in 2011 when compared with data from 2010. The report is based on information the FBI gathered from 14,009 law enforcement agencies that submitted six to 12 comparable months of data for both 2010 and 2011.
- In 2011, all four of the violent crime offense categories—murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault—declined nationwide when compared with data from 2010. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter declined 1.9 percent, while forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault each declined 4.0 percent.
- Violent crime declined in all city groups. Cities with populations of 50,000 to 99,999 saw the largest decrease (5.2 percent) in violent crime. Violent crime decreased 6.6 percent in metropolitan counties and 4.7 percent in non-metropolitan counties.
- Within city groups, murder and non-negligent manslaughter offenses increased the most (18.3 percent) in cities with populations under 10,000. Cities with populations of 50,000 to 99,999 showed the largest decrease of murder and non-negligent manslaughter offenses (14.4 percent).
- All city groupings experienced a decline in forcible rapes except in cities with 500,000 to 999,999 inhabitants, which had the increase in forcible rapes (0.5 percent). Forcible rape offenses declined 6.8 percent in metropolitan counties and 9.0 percent in non-metropolitan counties.
- Robbery offenses decreased in all city groupings, with the greatest decrease (5.3 percent) in cities with 50,000 to 99,999 inhabitants. Robberies decreased 7.5 percent in metropolitan counties and 3.6 percent in non-metropolitan counties.
- Aggravated assaults decreased in all city groups. Cities with 50,000 to 99,999 inhabitants experienced the largest decrease at 5.3 percent. Aggravated assaults declined in both county groups, with a decrease of 6.3 percent in metropolitan counties and 4.2 percent in non-metropolitan counties.
- Violent crime decreased in all four regions (4.9 percent in the Midwest, 4.7 percent in the West, 4.5 percent in the South, and 0.8 percent in the Northeast).
- Nationally, the property crime offense categories of larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft decreased in 2011 when compared with 2010 data. Motor vehicle theft dropped 3.3 percent, and larceny-theft decreased 0.9 percent. However, burglary offenses increased 0.3 percent.
- Property crime increased 0.3 percent in cities with 250,000 to 499,999 inhabitants and increased 0.1 percent in cities with 10,000 to 24,999 in population. Decreases in property crime were reported in all other city groupings. Property crime decreased 1.4 percent in metropolitan counties but increased 2.6 percent in non-metropolitan counties.
- Burglary offenses increased 1.2 percent in cities with 50,000 to 99,999 persons, which is the largest increase reported within city groupings. Burglaries increased 1.0 percent in non-metropolitan counties.
- Larceny-theft offenses decreased in all city groupings except those with populations of 250,000 to 499,999, which had an increase of 0.2 percent, and those with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, which showed virtually no change. Larceny-thefts increased 4.1 percent in non-metropolitan counties.
- Motor vehicle thefts declined in all population groupings. Cities with 100,000 to 249,999 inhabitants experienced the largest decline at 4.3 percent. Metropolitan counties reported a 6.1 percent decrease in motor vehicle thefts.
- Three of the nation’s regions had decreases in property crime in 2011 when compared with data from 2010. These offenses declined 1.3 percent in the South, 0.8 percent in the West, and 0.4 percent in the Midwest. However, property crimes increased 0.2 percent in the Northeast.
- Arson offenses, which are not included in property crime totals, decreased 5.0 percent nationwide. Arsons declined in all four regions in 2011, with the Northeast experiencing the largest decrease (12.3 percent).
For definitions of the offenses presented in this release and collected for the accompanying report, please see Offense Definitions from Crime in the United States, 2010.
The complete Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report is available exclusively at www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr.
Here is an FBI table including Texas cities over 100,000 people comparing reported crime rates for the first six months of 2010 and 2011. Notably, a few towns where murders had virtually bottomed out saw significant year-to-year increases, including Amarillo (3-8), Arlington (6-12), Beaumont (3-7), and El Paso (1-14). But overall murders declined because of offsetting reductions in other jurisdictions, particularly Houston (143-90) and Fort Worth (32-18), along with more modest declines in most other places.
An Austin, Texas-based blogger, Scott Henson observes that: Most Texas jurisdictions saw declines in reported violent and property crime in the first six months of 2011 compared to 2010. Despite reduced federal grant funds. Despite a faltering economy and rising wealth disparity. Despite increased gun ownership. Despite lofty drop-out rates in high schools. Despite depopulating Texas youth prisons, reducing their inmate numbers from 5,000 to 1,100 since 2007. Despite Texas releasing more than 70,000 adult inmates per year from prison back into their home communities. All that’s going on and crime is still declining. So what’s causing it?
Henson believes the answer lies in a confluence of several possible reasons. First, it must be acknowledged, the best econometric estimates (Spelman, Levitt) say around one-quarter to a third of crime reduction in the ’90s came from locking up more criminals for longer stretches, which makes sense given the vast scope of expanded incapacitation. But those same models showed incarceration levels had long since passed the point of maximizing marginal utility (in the economists’ jargon). Based purely on a cost-benefit equation, wrote Spelman, “Enormous cutbacks – reductions of 50% or more in the prison population – are not difficult to justify and would probably save the US public billions of dollars each year. Certainly there is little economic justification for continuing to build.”
So those who argue most strongly for the effectiveness of incarceration at reducing crime say we’ve already gone to that well too often. And anyway, in Texas crime continued to decline even after we stopped building new prisons. Incarcerating ever-more people can’t be the only factor. So the question remains, if expanded imprisonment accounted for a quarter to a third of the ’90s crime decline, what accounted for the rest, and why does crime keep falling now that incarceration (even in Texas) has leveled off?
Our friends at the Texas Legislature might suggest that new probation and parole programming effectively reduced incarceration levels without harming public safety, and because I supported them, I’d love to give the 2007 reforms credit. But the trend is national, not Texas-specific, so even if that had a positive effect, it can’t explain it all. My own favorite theory: Young people spend a great deal of time engaged with technology like the internet, video games and cell phones that didn’t exist 25 years ago. These activities occupy time of teens and young adults who are the most likely to commit crimes. The kid perfecting his skills at Grand Theft Auto V may not be preparing himself for the job market, but he isn’t out stealing my car.
On property crimes, there’s a hypothesis that the rise of cheap, mass-market goods has contributed to reducing theft because lots of things we own have relatively low resale value and simply aren’t worth stealing anymore. The list of items most often stolen bears out that trend, consisting mainly of things that aren’t cheaply produced or where brand value trumps utility among callow minds. Some theorize that improved pharmacology reduced crime, both thanks to improved antipsychotic and anti-depression drugs for adults and potentially because of earlier diagnosis and more frequent medication of mental illness among juveniles. At a gut level, Grits remains skeptical of that explanation, but there’s inarguably a time correlation.
Nationally, the drop in violent crime not only calls into question the theory that crime rates are closely correlated with economic hardship, but another argument as well, said Frank E. Zimring, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. As the percentage of people behind bars has decreased in the past few years, violent crime rates have fallen as well. For those who believed that higher incarceration rates inevitably led to less crime, “this would also be the last time to expect a crime decline,” he said. “The last three years have been a contrarian’s delight — just when you expect the bananas to hit the fan,” said Mr. Zimring, a visiting law professor at New York University and the author of a coming book on the decline in the city’s crime rate. But he said there was no way to know why — at least not yet. “The only thing that is reassuring being in a room full of crime experts now is that they are as puzzled as I am,” he said.
Atlanta, Georgia this morning.