United States. Congress. House. Committee on the J.

Taking Back Our Streets Act of 1995 : hearings before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, on H.R. 3 ... January 19 and 20, 1995 online

. (page 41 of 51)
Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JTaking Back Our Streets Act of 1995 : hearings before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, on H.R. 3 ... January 19 and 20, 1995 → online text (page 41 of 51)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

occupy a great deal of time on the part of the police officers and
the criminal justice system. Untreated, they waste time and re-
sources and create countless new victims.

We have found a way to manage and control them by making
them address their addiction. Please do not prevent other commu-
nities from gaining the benefits of these courts.

Mr. McCOLLUM. Thank you very much. Judge.

Chief Click.


Mr. Click. It is my pleasure to be here today.

As I looked at the roster, I knew it was going to be a friendly
group with a retired police chief on the panel. Nice to be here.

As I listened to the panel, I am not sure what I have to offer
other than 30 years experience, increasing frustration with a sys-
tem that doesn't work well and sitting back and looking at all those
pieces that tell me it doesn't work well and tells every one of us
in our society it doesn't work well.

When I became a police officer 30 years ago, we had a serious
problem. About 20 years ago, I think we entered into a crisis, and
I am not sure that the general population recognized that until re-
cently. Based on the increasing criminality in this country, we have
seen a system that has come close to collapse because of volume.

If you talk to the officer on the street, there are too many calls,
too many suspects, too many crimes. The prosecutors will tell you
that we can't handle all the cases.


We plea bargain 90 to 95 percent of the felony cases in this coun-
try. You have a correction system that is a revolving-door system
because of that volume. The majority of people in the system are
honorable, well-intended people and yet we can't handle the vol-

I can tell you that as a police chief in a major city in this coun-
try, I see my primary focus, because the public is telling me on a
daily basis we are frightened. There is tremendous fear. We are
willing to give up certain basic rights and certain basic freedoms,
because if we give it up, we know that criminal will have to give
it up, too. I see the whole fabric of society threatened by this very
high level of fear that is there, and I don't see it subsiding unless
we do some dramatic things over the next 10 or 15 years.

Immediately, I can tell you there is no question that one of our
primary responsibilities is to apprehend that large number of
criminals that are on the street and shouldn't be on the street. I
think we are good at it, like most police departments today.

Again, you get into the volume. What do we do with these people
and how long can we continue to hire more police officers and how
long can we continue to build more prisons? Texas probably is
doing as admirable a job as any State has done at this point.

We are in the process of spending $2 billion to expand our prison
system and doing that by 1996. I can tell you the short-term effect
is a reduction in crime, and yet, what I see happening underlying
all that is nothing occurring that is going to address the problem
long term.

Something we never anticipated is the number, the large number
of young criminals that we would create through a whole variety
of phenomena that occurs underl3dng all this. I look back and think
of those thousands of calls that I have answered and continue to
see answered by officers that work in our department and every de-
partment in this country, and you see those underlying things that
we need to effect if we are going to take and ultimately address
this volume, because we can take in short term, probably build
enough prisons to incarcerate our known criminal population today,
albeit very expensive, and yet I can tell you, I think we are faced
with increasing numbers, much more dramatic than we ever antici-
pated in the past or the future if we don't change some of these
underlying factors.

Some of those underlying factors, just — I guess just to throw out,
it almost seems some of these things snuck up on us because they
are so astounding when you hear them. That one out of three of
our babies today are being bom to a single, unwed mothers, and
there are no Murphy Browns mixed in there. These are mothers
that are 15 or 16 years old, poor, no education, no job skills, no fu-
ture, no hope, and you have got a baby that perhaps is passed
along to a grandmother or even today to a great grandmother.

In certain parts of our city and throughout this country, in cer-
tain parts of the community, that birth rate to unwed mothers will
run as much as two-thirds, two-thirds of the babies being born in
that situation. No positive male contact whatsoever. The male con-
tact they have is generally very violent.

That child, by the time they are 3 years old, you see them al-
ready exhibiting the violent behaviors, beating on each other. You


watch a child that — we talk about a failure of an educational sys-
tem, and that is all a piece of it, but I think we have got a great
educational system in this country and a lot of very dedicated peo-

The failure in our educational system is with the first teacher.
That first teacher, the parent, is not doing their job because they
don't know how to do their job or they are not motivated to do their
job. But that child, by the time they reach school age where we tra-
ditionally waited, in many cases, it is at least a very difficult job
to deal with that child. They are there by the thousands, and that
is what we never anticipated in the past, and what I think we are
not anticipating in the future. I can tell you as a 30-year police offi-
cer, if we could go out there and just catch all the criminals and
lock them up and go about living our lives, that is great if that
would really work, but it hasn't worked and it is not going to work
in the future if we do not address how we are raising our children.

We look at unemployment. We brag. Texas is down to about 5
percent unemployment at this point. The Nation is doing well, and
yet in neighborhoods where we see the greatest amount of crime,
unemployment is running 60 to 70 percent, never changed one bit
from when we were in recession or out of recession. You find the
young men standing on the corner that absolutely have no job
skills, no education, no future, and very dangerous.

I want you to think, and I had an officer point this out to me
one time because I never had really thought of it in this sense. He
said. Chief, what difference does it make to that young man what
he does if he has no future anyway? There is no consequences that
he ever thinks of. And that is exactly right and we see a tremen-
dous amount of violence I think as a result of that frustration.

They find work. An individual in today's society needs money if
they are going to survive at all and they do find work and they sell
crack cocaine and they carjack people and they burglarize houses
and they steal television sets.

You find that baby, no intellectual stimulation. Often wondered
why I didn't find any reading material in those homes when you
answer a call there. Well, the reason there was no reading material
is that nobody in the house read. Nobody knew how to read. A
child has never been held on anyone's lap and had a nursery rhyme
read to it because nobody. No. 1, had the book and nobody knew
how to read the nursery rhyme.

A child that never has watched "Barney" or never watched "Ses-
ame Street" because there is no television set in the house because
if there is a television set in the house, guess what happens? Your
local crack dealer is going to own the television set because they
trade it for crack cocaine.

You have got a bo3^riend that moves in and out. Beats that
mother, beats that baby, and I will tell you, as I said before, that
baby by the age of 3 is beating on, other folks that are around him
every time they have a disagreement.

We wait way too long, and of course I am not suggesting that you
don't make an attempt somewhere all along to somehow intervene
and be that positive adult, particularly male role models with this
child. There are no males. There are no positive adult males in


these children's lives and when you consider it is one baby out of
three now, it was one in 20 in 1960 born out of wedlock.

So it is one out of three today and the trend line tells us that
that is going to continue to increase at some point in the future,
and how do you prevent those pregnancies, and how do you give
some support and how do you get that mother a job? How do you
make her self-sufficient?

The estimate right now on a national basis is less than 50 per-
cent of our 17-year-olds have the knowledge or skills to go on to
college or get an entry level job, and again, I would propose that
the real failure wasn't the formal educational system so much as
it was that initial teacher that failed that child at 1 and 2 and 3
years old.

Now, I say failed that child. Somehow I think we, as a society,
if we are going to change that, need to take a look at how we pro-
vide support and those other kinds of things that are there to make
that mother self-sufficient, to somehow provide that baby with
more intellectual stimulation, to help prepare that baby to be suc-
cessful through the formal educational system.

Maybe the last area I will touch on is neighborhoods, and folks,
like most major cities and particularly aging major cities, we have
the same phenomenon in Dallas. In 1980, over 60 percent of our
households in Dallas were owner occupied. In 1994, that is 44 per-
cent. So in 14 years we found a dramatic shift in home ownership,
and I grant you, I don't know the answer to most of the things that
I bring up here, and yet I can tell you that what we do know is
that in neighborhoods where people own their homes, regardless of
their economic levels, there is more participation in PTA, there is
more participation in crime watch, there is more investment in the
community, and what we have in Dallas, as many cities today, is
that home — that owner-occupied housing has dropped dramatically.
How do we promote that investment in a community? A real chal-
lenge, and particularly for lower income individuals that need that.

But again, I would point that out that, folks, I think on a short-
term basis there is no question that we can see some results by
just locking a few more criminals up, and I think we are doing
that. On a long-term basis, unless we address these underlying
problems, which really aren't getting any better; they are getting
worse in terms' of some of the issues I just brought up, we are going
to continue to see young criminals created at a much faster rate
than we as a society are going to be able to deal with.

One of the points brought up, lots of good — we have tremendous
numbers of programs, good programs in every community in this
country. The problem is just like the criminal justice system. The
programs usually are designed to address small numbers of people,
cannot even start to address the magnitude of the problems in
themselves, so this is another challenge. But unless we take and
look at that prevention aspect of it, I think we have got a very
bleak future looking ahead in the long term.

Thank you.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Chief Click, thank you very much.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Click follows:]


Prepared Statement of Bennie R. Click, Chief of Police, Dallas Police


For the last 30 years, government has entrusted the criminal justice system with
almost complete responsibility for maintaining public safety. While our efforts have
been well intended, we have experienced not only a dramatic increase in crime, but
an even greater fear of crime.

In the short term, more resources must be committed to providing adequate num-
bers of police officers and to having sufficient prison capacity to incarcerate violent
and repetitive offenders.

In the long term, however, greater emphasis must be placed on the underlying
causes of criminal activity. We must dedicate additional resources to building effec-
tive and proactive public/private partnerships that emphasize community and indi-
vidual self-reliance. Our past failure to address these issues has resulted in the cre-
ation of young criminals at a far greater rate than we ever anticipated.

The following summarizes our position on broad strategies and priorities as they
relate to reducing violence in America:

Illegitimacy. In 1960, one in 20 children were bom to unwed mothers. In 1994,
the figure rose to one out of every three children. The young mothers of these chil-
dren are typically ill-prepared for parenting, are poor and have no job skills. Chil-
dren born to typical teenage unwed mothers will likely have little or no positive con-
tact with adult male role models. They also stand a good chance of being abused,
both emotionally and physically. Commonly, this behavior is emulated by children
as early as age 3. Programs are needed that place children in contact with positive
adult role models.

Education. Fewer than 50 percent of 17 year olds have the basic academic skills
necessary for entry-level jobs. Estimates of prison illiteracy rates run as high as 80
percent. People without these basic skills cannot find legitimate work and often turn
to crime as a means of support. Not only must we increase our educational efforts,
we must also provide a safe atmosphere in schools to enhance the quality of learn-

Unemployment. Lack of employment opportunities create frustration and hope-
lessness often expressed through acts of violence. As a result of automation and the
"shipment" of many jobs overseas, there are fewer opportunities for meaningful em-
ployment among unskilled individuals. More meaningful job and job skills training
are needed.

Strengthening neighborhoods. Neighborhoods in which there are high numbers of
owner-occupied housing suffer less crime. Property ownership fosters a sense of re-
sponsibility that is expressed through greater participation in community programs
such as Neighborhood Crime Watch and Parent-Teacher Associations.

We should no longer depend solely on government to solve our nation's crime
problems. We have tried and failed and, in the process, relieved many people of a
sense of personal responsibility. The solutions rest at the grassroots community
level of our country with Americans taking responsibility for each other. Govern-
ment can best participate in this process by supporting programs that promote op-
portunities, traditional values and self-reliance.

Mr. McCOLLUM. We have a vote on right now and rather than
interrupt the next witness, I think the best thing to do is take a
10-minute recess, go over and vote and come back. So this commit-
tee is in recess.


Mr. McCoLLUM. We can reconvene the subcommittee. At this
point in time, having taken a recess, we are prepared now for Pro-
fessor Dilulio's testimony.


Mr. DlIULlO. Thank you very much. I am going to summarize
this statement. Probably be brief. After listening to the chief, I feel
a little bit, without being presumptuous like I listened to my dad.
He experienced it. He knows it. I took 20 years to study it, came


to the same conclusion, but it is essentially some of the same con-

In addition to work on other aspects of American government for
the past 15 years, I have been studying, researching, teaching
about crime and corrections in the United States, and my main re-
search project at present is a collaboration involving about a dozen
of the Nation's leading criminologists. These are people who have
disagreed with each other strongly over the last 15 years, and we
are coming together to try to form a new consensus, looking at the
data in common, coming up with common research questions and
so on.

I want to prevent at least one crime, namely the murder of me
by my colleagues by saying that I am speaking only for myself, not
for them, nor for any other person or institution this morning.

Crime prevention is probably the most important, but also the
most vexing question in the entire criminal justice corpus. There
are literally thousands of post- 1960 studies, empirical studies of
the subject.

But the unfortunate truth is that none of these literatures enable
one to answer the core question, which I would frame it as follows:
Under precisely what, if any, conditions can crime be prevented
and how, if at all, can we foster those conditions in a consistent
and cost-effective way? Nor for that matter do we know much
about the actual long-term social costs and benefits of different
types of crime prevention strategies, interventions, or programs.

And finally, whatever one believes or hopes about crime preven-
tion, views on the subject are shaped at least as much by first
order moral, even metaphysical assumptions, as they are by the
latest facts, figures, or regression results.

Having said that, let me encourage you to think about crime pre-
vention as an empirically and morally contested issue which poses
at least three distinct sets of questions, none of which in the end
lend themselves to simple policy solutions.

The first question is. What, if anything, can be done to prevent
today's inner city babies from becoming tomorrow's juvenile offend-
ers and the next century's first wave of high rate predatory street
criminals, prisoners, and homicide victims?

The second question is. How, if at all, can the Federal Govern-
ment foster, or at least not frustrate, the crime prevention efforts
of average Americans and businesses? And the third question is,
What, if any, changes in Federal policy might succeed in enhancing
the capacity of the justice system to prevent future crimes by per-
sons who have been convicted of one or more serious crimes in the

Let's begin with preventing kids from becoming criminals. The
single most comprehensive and widely cited review of the scientific
literatures on crime prevention concludes, and I quote, "We must
rivet our attention on the earliest stages of the life cycle, for after
all is said and done, the most serious offenders are boys who begin
their careers at a very early age."

Now, nationally between 1973 and 1992 we see crime rates in
general dropping and violent crime victimization rates dropping by
1.5 percent over that period. But over that same period, you see the
rate of violent victimizations of black males, ages 12 to 14, increas-


ing by about 24 percent, and between 1985 and 1992 the murder
rate for black males ages 14 to 22 tripled.

So if we are going to get serious about thinking about ways to
prevent all of America's kids from becoming predatory criminals or
crime victims, we have to focus mainly on the question of black on
black crime, and I know this remains a somewhat controversial ob-

My friend and colleague at the University of Pennsylvania, Lani
Guinier, has said that it is the kind of emotionally charged issue
that leads to impassioned, rapid fire, in her words, drive-by de-
bates. So I would implore you to look squarely at the relevant data
and to try to bring this issue of black on black crime as close to
home as you can.

For me, that is relatively easy. I live a few minutes by car from
north Philadelphia, which is a predominantly black area of the city
that ranks at the top of every indicator of socioeconomic distress.

Just to quickly summarize, in 1994, Philadelphia suffered 433
murders, blacks were 39 percent of the city's population, but 78.5
percent of its murder victims, only 5 of the 89 victims under age
20 were white, 29 kids under age 17 were killed by gun blasts.
City wide we had a murder rate of 27.6 per 100,000, but in parts
of north Philadelphia, murder rates were above 100 per 100,000;
and in just one north Philadelphia neighborhood, an area known to
local residents and the police as the Badlands, it is part of census
track 176, 14 people were murdered. And the question has to be
if you are talking about prevention, what if anything might have
prevented the young black inner-city males who did this violence
against other young black children and black adults from doing it?

And I submit to you that if we are interested, truly interested
in crime prevention and root causes, then we must be genuinely
radical and utterly honest. About 75 percent of the most violent in-
carcerated juveniles are males who have suffered serious abuse by
a family member and the same fraction of them have been wit-
nesses to extreme violence.

Over half of the kids in long-term State juvenile institutions
have one or more immediate family members, father, mother, sib-
ling who have been incarcerated. It is true for girls as well. Forty-
seven percent of the female prisoners have about at least one fam-
ily member behind bars, 43 percent have been physically or sexu-
ally abused, 34 percent have parents or guardians who abused alco-
hol or drugs.

But the point is this: Whatever their material circumstances, a
majority of persons of every demographic description are law abid-
ing. Most black inner-city males, most black inner-city females, are
law abiding. It is not a question of poverty. Kids become criminally
depraved not because they are economically deprived, but because
they are raised to be violent, impulsive, self-centered, and remorse-
less by adults who teach these traits by example and because, on
the streets where these kids live, such behavior is entirely rational.

Every relevant scientific study of the subject, at least that I have
been able to look at post- 1960, concludes that kids of whatever so-
cioeconomic status, biogenetic disposition, demographic description,
do better if they grow up believing and have some rational basis
for believing that there are adults out there who care desperately


about their physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being and
who want nothing in return, save affection and love.

But if you have kids who start out abused and neglected, and
this is where the juvenile corrections population largely comes
from, and then they are carted through a bureaucratic maze of fos-
ter homes, family courts, rotten schools, juvenile institutions, they
learn a different lesson: Life is brutal, rewards and punishments
are arbitrary, the future is unpredictable and human attachments
are fleeting. This explains a major finding of just about every major
ethnography of young black urban street criminals.

Young black inner-city males are prone to attack each other for
the slightest provocations or signs of disrespect. When you grow up
almost totally unsocialized, you naturally develop a hair-trigger
mentality that mandates immediate and quickly escalating violence
against anyone who in any way threatens or directly challenges
what little sense of self-respect, what few tangible signs of worldly
status, money, turf, friends, you may possess.

So in sum, if we are serious about crime prevention at this level,
then the place to begin is with the simple truth, validated by all
the relevant scientific literature. Children cannot be socialized by
adults who are themselves unsocialized or, worse, families that
exist in name only, biological parents who abuse and neglect them,
child welfare bureaucracies that bounce them around, schools that
neither discipline nor educate, and neighborhoods in which violent
and repeat criminals circulate in and out of jails.

The chief is quite right. No one expected this large bulge, this de-
mographic bulge that we are now seeing, but get ready because the
worst is yet to come and it is right around the corner in about 4
or 5 years. By the year 2000, we are going to have 500,000 more
males between the ages of 14 and 17 in the population than we
have today.

All the longitudinal criminology on the subject tells us that 6
percent of these boys, almost without exception, the 6 percent
whose family lives are the most grim, are going to commit about
50 percent of all the serious crimes committed by this cohort. They
are going to be the high-rate predatory offenders. Thirty thousand
more killers, rapists, carjackers, and thieves. We can argue about
it. We can debate it. But it is already too late for most of these
kids. They are headed for the streets, the prisons, and the grave-

The question then has to be, if you are talking about prevention,
what if we placed severely abused and neglected toddlers in stable
settings where loving, responsible adults really cared for them? Is

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JTaking Back Our Streets Act of 1995 : hearings before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, on H.R. 3 ... January 19 and 20, 1995 → online text (page 41 of 51)