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

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it really Utopian to bet that by the year 2010 we might get more
doctors, teachers, car mechanics, and family men?

Now, the moral and the civic arguments for acting on this prob-
lem of at-risk black inner-city children I think should be enough for
any decent person to want to act, but there is an argument to en-
lightened self-interest as well.

Because while there is no statistical evidence yet that the inner
city crime problem has spilled over into upscale urban neighbor-
hoods or adjacent suburbs, the demographics of the problem make
the inner cities a ticking crime bomb and whether there is any-


thing that can or will be done to defuse this crime bomb remains
to be seen.

Quickly, the second set of points I would make go to the private
anticrime prevention efforts. Whatever Washington does, whatever
Washington fails to do, no one should suppose that all or even most
anticrime efforts in this country are governmental. They are not.

Over the last decade or so, I will bet you there is not a person
in this room who has not done something to make the places where
he or she and their loved ones live and work and recreate and shop
and go to school relatively impervious to crime. You have lectured
your kids to be careful. You have purchased burglar alarms. Car
owners have bought antitheft devices. Neighborhoods have estab-
lished watch groups. Businesses have hired armies of private secu-
rity guards.

In my view, the gap between black and white crime victimization
rates, a gap which is growing at a time when the poverty rates ac-
tually are shrinking is largely a reflection of the gap between inner
city black and white private spending power and danger avoidance

For three reasons, inner city blacks have less ability than other
Americans to target harden their environments. First, they are too
poor to move. Second, most inner-city Americans are simply too
poor to invest in security systems and the like, and third, the ef-
forts that are made in these communities to target harden their en-
vironments often meet with stiff political, legal, and other chal-
lenges which the community cannot overcome, not to mention the
budgetary ones. So whatever Washington does to bolster private
crime efforts, especially in the inner cities, would have to count on
the plus side.

Finally and in conclusion, there are two sets of crime prevention
measures that government is uniquely situated to pursue via the
formal criminal justice system. The first measures obviously are
about preventing future crimes by violent and repeat criminals who
have been convicted of one or more serious crimes in the past.

You have over 5 million persons under correctional supervision
in this country today. Seventy-two percent of them are not incar-
cerated. We know from the two largest prisoner self-report surveys
ever conducted in single prison systems that the estimated median
number of violent and property crimes, excluding all drug crimes,
committed by prisoners in the year prior to their incarceration is
at least a dozen. We know that about 35 percent of violent crime
arrestees are on probation, parole, or pretrial release at the time
of their arrest. The chief mentioned the revolving door. These data
and tons of other data support that notion.

Make no mistake, imprisoning violent and repeat criminals most
definitely prevents crimes. Imprisoning Peter may not deter Paul.
In the inner city, for reasons I could go into, it probably does not,
but it does prevent crimes that Peter would be committing if he
were back on the streets.

One scientific study estimated that increasing the prison popu-
lation between 1975 and 1989 prevented 390,000 murders, rapes,
robberies, and aggravated assaults in 1989 alone. Another recent
study, one not cited in my testimony because I had just looked at
it the other day actually, just got a copy of it, a Rand Corp. analy-


sis of the impact of the new three strikes law in California reported
that it would prevent 340,000 serious crimes a year in California

We can argue about the costs and benefits of these policies, but
there are now several benefit cost analyses, including two by Har-
vard University economist Anne Morrison Piehl and myself, pub-
lished in the Brookings Review, which indicate that it costs society
at least twice as much to permit violent and repeat criminals to
roam free in search of fresh victims as it does to keep them in pris-
on for 1 year.

Closing the revolving door is one thing. Entering into productive
alliances with citizens is another. Community policing has been
discussed. Everybody seems to be for it, but the reality is that it
does not exist on any large scale in any major urban high crime

If we are talking about preventing crime and disorder, targeted
increases in police manpower, combined with community policing,
can most certainly take us farthest, fastest, and cheapest, but there
is no evidence that is happening and there is little hope that this
will happen as a result of any Federal action.

In conclusion, I doubt seriously that there is much that Washing-
ton can or will do to improve justice system operations in the inter-
est of public safety and in a way that respects the public's purse.

The Federal Government and the agency, the Federal Bureau of
Prisons, runs one of the best correctional systems in the world. The
Federal prison system's drug treatment programs are a bright spot
in the prevention and criminal rehabilitation record, maybe one of
the only bright spots.

Beyond that, however, the record of Federal crime policy from
1968 to 1992 is not a bright one. The twin culprits have been and
continue to be distributive politics and a weak governmental ad-
ministration. I hope that Washington can do better. I expect this
Congress will do better.

Thank you for inviting me.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Thank you very much, Professor Dilulio, and
thank the entire panel for what you have presented to us today.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Dilulio follows:]


Prepared Statement of John J. DiIulio, Jr., Professor of Politics and Public
Affairs, Princeton University, and Director for Public Management,
Brookings Institution



Good morning. I am John DiIulio, professor of politics and
public affairs at Princeton University, and director of the Brookings
Institution's Center for Public Management. In addition to work on
other aspects of American government, for much of the past fifteen
years I have researched, taught, and written about crime and
corrections in America.

Because it will color and inform parts of what I have to say this
morning, I should note that my main criminal justice research project
at present involves a close collaboration with a dozen or so of the
nation's leading criminologists. This research group, of which I am
co-chairman, consists of major scholars who for many years have
debated each other and disagreed strongly on just about every
criminal justice issue, including the one before us here today,
prevention. Our collective aim is to resolve tough data questions,
weigh competing perspectives, and articulate a new intellectual
consensus on crime policy. To that end we are meeting regularly,
debating openly, pooling data sets, researching, and, in due course,
writing, editing, and recommending in one voice.


A list of the first round of participants in this Brookings project,
and a copy of our first background paper, are included among the
appendices to my statement. But let me hasten to prevent a possible
murder-namely, the murder of me by my colleagues— by stating
plainly that I speak this morning only for myself, not for the
Brookings new consensus group or any other person or institution.

Prevention: Three Questions

In my view, prevention is one of the most important but
vexing concepts in the entire corpus of criminal justice studies.
There are, to be sure, literally thousands of post- 1960 empirical
studies of the subject. They range from econometric analyses to
ethnographic cases, from works of conventional criminology to
research in such disparate fields as public administration and child

The unfortunate truth, however, is that none of these
literatures enable one to answer the core question: Under precisely
what, if any, conditions can crime be prevented (precluded, obviated,
forestalled), and how, if at all can we foster those conditions in a
consistent and cost-effective way?

As a colleague of mine has joked, a policy advocate can be
defined as someone who believes that the plural of anecdote is data.
While there are plenty of inspiring anecdotes about crime-
prevention programs that work, and while there are studies and
statistics that can be mustered on almost any side of the issue, there
is precious little systematic evidence that any particular prevention


program, or any one species or mix of prevention strategies, can be
replicated widely and with predictable and desirable consequences.

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.

Finally, whatever one believes about crime prevention, one
must admit that his or her views on the subject are shaped at least
as much by first-order moral assumptions as they are by the latest
facts, figures, or regression results.

That is as it should be. As I like to remind my Princeton
students, whether one truly feels that crime is a matter of "bad
homes, bad genes,' bad incentives" or "bad souls," and whatever one's
policy or partisan preferences, no alert and honest person can escape
the profound moral problems that come with deciding who ought to
be punished by law, for what, how, by whom, and under what

As a matter of civic discourse, it is unfortunate that we often
find it hard to recognize and respect legitimate disagreements about
the morality of competing approaches to crime. Too often, we
translate such noble disagreements into mere partisan disputes and
ideological wrangles. Or, what is even worse, we sometimes sweep
them under a rug woven by such false and futile dichotomies as
"prevention" versus "punishment."

Having said all that, let me now encourage you to think about
crime prevention as. an empirically and morally contested issue
which poses at least three distinct but overlapping questions, each of
which I will attempt to answer succinctly for you, but none of which.


in the end, have answers that lend themselves to simple public
policy solutions.

First, what, if anything, can be done to prevent today's inner-
city babies from becoming tomorrow's juvenile offenders, and the
next century's first wave of high-rate adult predatory street
criminals, prisoners, and homicide victims?

Second, how, if at all, can the federal government foster, or at
least not frustrate, the crime prevention efforts of average
Americans and businesses?

And, third, what, if any, changes in federal crime policy might
succeed in enhancing the capacity of law enforcement officers and
corrections officials to prevent future crimes by persons who have
been convicted of one or more serious crimes in the past?

Saving Inner-City Black Kids

Let's begin with preventing kids from becoming criminals.
Most predatory street criminals - people who murder, assault, rape,
rob, burglarize, and deal deadly drugs-are very bad boys from very
bad homes in very poor neighborhoods, that is, places where child
abuse and neglect, substance abuse, and crime itself are common.
The single most comprehensive and widely-cited review of the
scientific literatures on criminal behavior concludes that 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" (Wilson and Herrnstein, 1985: 508-


Nationally, over the last few years crime rates have been
falling, but not in predominantly black inner-city neighborhoods. By
the year 2000, the national drop in crime rates will be reversed, and,
unless something is done, violent crime will be even more rampant
in the inner cities than it is today.

Nationally, between 1973 and 1992 Between 1973 and 1992,
there was a 1.5 percent drop in victimization rates for most crimes of
violence (BJS, 1994). Over the same period, however, the rate of
violent victimizations of black males ages 12 to 24 increased by
about 25 percent (Bastian and Taylor, 1994). And between 1985 and
1992, the murder rate for black males ages 14 to 22 tripled
(Blumstein, 1995: 412).

Street crime in America has been, and continues to be, largely
intra-racial. About 84 percent of single-offender violent crimes
committed by blacks are committed against blacks, and 73 percent of
such crimes committed by whites are committed against whites (BJS,
1994: 61). In 1988 in the nation's seventy-five most populous
counties, blacks were 20 percent of the general population but 54
percent of all murder victims and 62 percent of all murder
defendants; most murder victims were male, black, and between the
ages of 15 and 45 (BJS, 1993).

Thus, if we are serious about finding ways to preventing all of
America's precious children from becoming predatory street
criminals, we must focus mainly on the question of black-on-black
inner-city crime (Dilulio, 1994; Diluliol995). I know this remains a
somewhat controversial observation. As my friend Professor Lani
Guinier of the University of Pennsylvania has said, it is the kind of


emotionally-charged issue that can lead to impassioned, rapid-fire
"drive-by debates."

I would implore you to look squarely at the relevant data, and
to bring the reality of black-on-black inner city crime as close to
home as you can.

For me, that's easy. I was born and raised in a working-class
neighborhood of Philadelphia and now live a few minutes by car
from North Philadelphia, a predominantly black area of the city that
ranks at the top of every indicator of socio-economic distress. In
1994 my city, the City of Brotherly Love, suffered 433 murders.
Blacks were 39 percent of the city's population but 78.5 percent of
its murder victims. Only five of the eighty-nine victims under age
20 were white. Twenty-nine kids under age 17 were killed by gun
blasts. The citywide murder rate was 27.6 per 100,000. But in parts
of North Philadelphia, murder rates ran over 100 per 100,000. In
just one North Philadelphia neighborhood, an area known to local
residents and police as the "Badlands," and to the U.S. Bureau of the
Census as part of census tract 176, fourteen people were murdered
(Russell and Warner, 1994).

What, if anything, might have prevented the young black
inner-city males who did the violence against other young black
children and black adults from doing it?

I respect the opinions of those who insist that crime prevention
means expanding early education programs, providing more and
better job opportunities, teaching "parenting skills," and finding
constructive outlets for the energies of troubled teenagers. But I find
no evidence to support the noble hope that hundreds of ounces of


crime prevention programs like these will add up to many pounds of
real cures.

Take early education. Head Start has many intrinsic virtues,
and possibly some long-term cognitive development benefits. But
there is no body of empirical evidence to show that is has yielded
large, positive, and lasting effects measured in terms of teen
pregnancy, landing a job, or avoiding trouble with the law (Wilson,
1993: 21). Likewise, there is surely some value to programs which
send trained visitors into troubled homes to provide information,
health care, parenting instruction, or other support services. But not
even the literature reviews produced by persons who have funded
and championed such programs claim that such programs, however
intensive or well-funded, either restore "family functioning" or curb
crime (Weiss, 1993).

Instead, I submit to you that if we are truly interested in crime
prevention and root causes, then we must be genuinely radical and
utterly honest.

In the words of a research panel of the National Academy, the
problem is that many black inner-city children lack "good role
models" and are surrounded by extreme concentrations "of adults
who are involved in illegal markets. (T)he poorest of neighborhoods
seem increasingly unable to restrain criminal or deviant behaviors"
(National Research Council, 1993: 5).

That is a polite and politic way of stating that many of the
young black inner-city males who end up committing serous crimes,
going to prison, or being buried in the graveyard before their time,
start life born out-of-wedlock to single-parent homes where they are


severely abused and neglected, and in neighborhoods where many of
the adults with whom they have contact are themselves deviant,
delinquent, or criminal.

For instance, about 75 percent of the most violent incarcerated
juveniles are males who have suffered serious abuse by a family
member, and about the same fraction of them have been witnesses
to extreme violence (Schall, 1987: 350). Over half of all youths in
long-term state juvenile institutions have one or more immediate
family members (father, mother, sibling) who have been
incarcerated (BJS, 1992: 7).

While most very bad boys come from very bad homes, so do
most very bad girls. About 47 percent of female prisoners have at
least one immediate family member behind bars; 43 percent have
been physically or sexually abused; and 34 percent have parents or
guardians who abused alcohol or drugs (BJS, 1994).

In my view, today's young black inner-city males are not at
great risk of becoming criminally depraved mainly because they are
economically deprived. Whatever their material circumstances, only
a tiny fraction of young black inner-city males, and an even tinier
fraction of young black inner-city females, ever commit violent
crimes or become career criminals. And most very poor people of all
demographic groups are law-abiding.

Rather, today's black inner-city males are at great risk of
becoming criminally depraved mainly because they are raised to be
violent, impulsive, self-centered, and remorseless by unfortunate
adults who teach them these traits by example, and because, on the


push-or-be-pushed, kill-or-be-killed streets where they live, such
behavior is entirely rational.

And the reverse is true. The vast scientific literature on what
it takes to transform a troubled toddler into a good parent,
conscientious student, loyal friend, dedicated worker, or law-abiding
citizen can be boiled down to two words: unconditional love.
Children of whatever socio-economic status, bio-genetic disposition,
or demographic description do better in all phases of life if they grow
up believing that there are adults in their world who care
desperately about their physical, emotional, and intellectual well-
being, and who want nothing in return save love itself.

But kids who start out life abused and neglected only to be
carted through a bureaucratic maze of foster homes, family courts,
rotten schools, and juvenile institutions learn a different and totally
debilitating lesson: Life is brutal; rewards and punishments are
arbitrary; the future is totally unpredictable; and human attachments
are fleeting.

This helps to explain a chief finding of numerous ethnographies
of today's 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 have grown up almost
totally unsocialized and unloved and have so little externally-
validated sense of self-respect, 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, and what few tangible signs of worldly
status (money, turf, friends), you may possess (Fleisher, 1994).


But that is not how these young men are born into the world.
A typical severely abused and neglected "at-risk" black inner-city
kid will have numerous contacts with the child welfare system
before he or she enters high school. As recent reports on the child
welfare systems of New York City, Philadelphia, and other
jurisdictions make all too plain, these children live in one foster
home after another. They end up semi-literate and on welfare. They
do drugs and get sick. A high fraction of the black inner-city females
end up on welfare. A high fraction of the black inner-city males
finish life in prison (nobody visits) or dead (nobody mourns) well
before their time.

Although there is no systematic evidence that programs which
attempt to keep inner-city teenagers out of gangs, restrain their
anger, and discharge their energies in a productive fashion work to
prevent crime, I hold no brief against such programs.

But let us concede that no number of piecemeal crime
prevention approaches is likely to change the trajectory of black-on-
black 'crime trends.

Likewise, let us concede that no amount of harsher penalties
will deter these youths from behaving in a radically presented-
oriented, radically self-regarding way that translates directly into
substance abuse, impulsive violence, and serious crime. As one black
male life-term prisoner summed it up for me, "You never think about
doing 30 when you don't expect to live to 30."

In sum, if we are serious about crime prevention, then the
place to begin is with the simple truth: 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 jail, period.

We need to focus on black inner-city children, begin at the
very beginning, and refuse to think about the problem simply in
terms of traditional poverty, crime, and social welfare remedies.

For starters, recognize that, other things being equal, poor black
inner-city kids are less likely than white kids to get adequate pre-
natal and early-life health care. Buried in the heated race-and-I.Q.
debate over Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein's The Bell Curve
(New York: The Free Press, 1994) is research which shows that black
kids who get good pre-natal and health care do as well or better than
whites on I.Q. tests. Whatever their home circumstances, decent pre-
natal care and early-life health care gives kids a fighting chance in

But look beyond the inner-city, too. Recognize that about 75%
of metropolitan area blacks do not live in poverty. Instead, as recent
research has suggested, they live in working- and middle-class
neighborhoods where welfare dependency, crime, and joblessness
are less common than senior proms, family reunions, and church-
going (Nathan, 1994).

Dare to think out loud about ways that government can help to
make group homes, boarding schools, orphanages (call them what
you will) in these areas black urban America's version of the
agriculturally-based, communally-organized Israeli kibbutzim
(Dilulio. 1995).

1 1


Finally, if we are going to debate crime prevention, then we
must look beyond yesterday's statistics. By the year 2000, there will
be 500,000 more males between the ages of 14 and 17 in the
population than there are now. Criminology tells us that 6 percent of
these boys - almost without exception the 6 percent whose "family
lives" are the most grim—will commit 50 percent of all the serious
crime committed by the cohort and become high-rate, predatory
offenders: 30,000 more killers, rapists, carjackers and thieves
(Wilson, 1994: 507).

It is already too late for these kids. They are headed for the
streets, prisons, and graveyards. But what if we placed the next
500,000 severely abused and neglected toddlers in stable settings
where loving, responsible adults really cared for them? Is it really
Utopian to bet that by the year 2010 we might get at least 30,000
more doctors, teachers, car mechanics and family men? I think not.

Federal policies which encourage states to follow "family
preservation" policies manage only to imprison severely abused and
neglected children in bureaucratic systems and horrible homes. In
particular, any policies that fail to empower the creative,

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 42 of 51)