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 43 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 43 of 51)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

community-centered development of black-led, black-run, locally-
organized group homes for severely abused and neglected black
inner-city children, must be counted among the real root causes of
our nation's urban crime problem.

The moral and civic arguments for acting to save America's at-
risk black inner-city children should be enough for any decent
American to want to act. But there is as well an argument for acting
that runs to enlightened self-interest.




For while there is as yet no strong statistical evidence that
inner-city crime has "spilled over" into up-scale urban
neighborhoods or adjacent suburbs, the demographics of the problem
make the inner cities a ticking crime bomb.

Whether there is anything that the can and will be done to
defuse this crime bomb remains to be seen.

Private Efforts: "Hardening Targets"

Whatever Washington does (or fails to do), let no one suppose
that all crime prevention efforts in America spring from government.
Rather, much or most of what happens in the way of crime
prevention in America is purely the result of private efforts by
individuals, families, community groups, churches, and businesses.
America's ultimate crime prevention forces are not cops, judges,
probation officers, or prison guards; they are good parents, caring
friends, inspiring teachers, local religious leaders, dedicated co-
workers, and decent employers. Having spent more than a decade
interviewing and observing justice officials all across the country, I
can report that most cops, judges, probation officers, and corrections
officials see it that way, too (Dilulio et al., 1993).

Over the last decade or so, probably every person in this room
has done something to make the places in which he or she and their
loved ones live, work, attend school, shop, or recreate relatively
impervious to crime. Parents have lectured their children to be more
careful. Homeowners have purchased burglar alarms. Car owners
have bought auto anti-theft devices. Neighbors have established


town watch groups. Businesses have hired small armies of private
security guards.

Studies evaluating the impact of private crime prevention
efforts are in their infancy. And, of course, it's a multi-variate world.
No one factor, and no single species of factors, can explain all or even
most of the variance in complex phenomena like crime rates.

Still, it seems obvious that but for such private anti-crime
efforts, but for the "target-hardening" behaviors that now define the
everyday anti-crime regimen of the American people, the nation's
crime problem would undoubtedly be far worse than it is today. Let
any who doubt the efficacy of private crime prevention efforts be
the first to relocate their businesses to high-crime settings; dismiss
their mall security, guards; disconnect their house burglar alarms;
send their teenagers to the nearest high school with a violent youth
gang problem; and encourage their kids to walk alone in the big city
at night.

In my view, the gap between black and white crime
victimization rates is largely a reflection of the gap between black
and white private spending power and danger-avoidance capacities.
For at least three reasons, inner-city blacks have been less able than
other Americans to target-harden their environments against crime.

First, they are too poor to move. They must walk the streets
that the rest of us can avoid or never confront. For crime-plagued
inner-city public housing tenants, the only real choice is between
being homeless and coping with crime.



Second, most inner-city Americans are simply too poor to
invest in home security systems and the like. Some years ago, I
visited the offices of a major private foundation that over the years
had given social scientists millions and millions of dollars to study
crime and prevention strategies. I suggested that what this
foundation and others should do instead is to purchase deadbolt
locks for public housing residents who have none, or private security
for public housing complexes. They thought I was kidding. 1 was
not. Needless to say, I never received a penny from that foundation.
But I plan to carry the same message forward to a consortium of
private foundations when I address them on crime at their meeting
in Texas this March.

Third, efforts to prevent crime in inner-city neighborhoods by
erecting gates at public streets, automatically evicting drug dealers
from public housing, and installing metal detectors in public schools
often meet with stiff legal challenges or require political or financial
resources that the community either does not possess or cannot
easily sustain.

Whatever Washington does to bolster private crime prevention
efforts, especially in the inner cities, will count on the plus side. Do

Governmental Efforts: "Revolving Doors" and "Missing Links"

Finally, there are at least two sets of crime prevention
measures that government is uniquely situated to pursue via the
formal criminal justice system.


The first such measures are about preventing future crimes by
violent and repeat criminals who have been convicted of one or more
serious crimes in the past. Many serious, non-drug felony crimes are
committed by persons who are convicted but free. Here are just ten
points about revolving-door justice in America. With such exceptions
as noted, these points are drawn from recent reports by the U.S.
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS):

1. About 72% of the over 5 million persons under correctional
supervision at any given moment in this country are not

2. While the nation's prison population increased by 184% between
1980 and 1993, its parole population increased by 205%.

3. Based on a sample representing 711,000 state prisoners, 49% of
state prisoners are in now for a violent crime, 62% have been
convicted of one or more violent crimes in the past, and 94% have
been convicted of one or more violent crimes or have a previous
sentence to incarceration or probation.

4. On average, a state prisoner will do only 38% of his time behind

5. The median time served in confinement by state prisoners is 29
months for violent crimes, 15 months for drug trafficking, and 14
months for property offenses.

6. Based on the two largest prisoner self-report surveys ever
conducted in single prison systems, the estimated median number of
violent and property crimes (i.e., excluding all drug crimes)


committed by prisoners in the year prior to their imprisonment is 12
(Piehl and Dilulio, 1995).

7. Within 3 years of sentencing, about half of all probationers are re-
incarcerated for a new crime or abscond, and nearly half of all
parolees are convicted of a new crime.

8. About 35% of violent crime arrestees are on probation, parole, or
pretrial release at the time of their arrest.

9. These national numbers are mirrored by state-level data. For
example, between 1987 and 1991 Florida parolees alone committed
4,656 new crimes of violence, including 346 murders, 185 sexual
assaults, 2,369 robberies, and 1,754 other violent crimes; and in
Virginia, 68% of all murders, 76% of all aggravated assaults, and 81%
of all robberies have been the work of repeat offenders (Statistical
Analysis Center, 1993; Governor's Commission, 1994).

10. Since 1980 some 350,000 Americans have been murdered. BJS
data indicate that as many as one-third of those murders may have
been committed by persons who were on probation, parole, or pre-
trial release at the time they did the murder(s) for which they were

These numbers do not speak for themselves. The data do not
coerce one to support an end to plea bargaining (which is virtually
impossible) or blanket no-parole policies (which over time could
prove prohibitively expensive). And where drug crimes are
concerned, most studies find that incarcerating first-time, street-
level drug dealers for long terms does almost nothing to reduce drug
trafficking or cut the. amount of drug-related crime (Wilson, 1995).



But make no mistake: imprisoning violent and repeat offenders
most definitely prevents crimes. Imprisoning Peter may not deter
Paul, but it does prevent crimes that Peter would be committing if he
were back on the streets. One scientific study estimated that tripling
the prison population between 1975 and 1989 reduced reported and
unreported crime by 10-15% below what it would otherwise have
been, thereby preventing a conservatively estimated 390,000
murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults in 1989 alone
(Langan, 1994).

There are many other studies that document the siginificant
incapacitation effects of incarceration. And there are now several
benefit-cost analyses, including two by Harvard University economist
Anne Morrison Piehl and myself, which indicate that it costs society
at least twice as much to permit violent and repeat criminals to roam
free in search of new victims as it does to keep them in prison for a
year (Piehl and Dilulio, 1995).

Read the studies, or just ask yourself the following question: If
we released a random sample of 25 % to 50% of the nation's 1 million
prisoners this morning, what do you suppose would happen to crime
rates tonight and over the weekend?

Governmentally, locking the revolving door on criminals is
central to crime prevention. But so is opening the door to justice
system cooperation with law-abiding citizens.

In the long run, nothing will buy America more public safety
via government than reordering the justice system so that it does
more to foster than to frustrate private crime efforts of all sorts.



Enter community policing. Everyone, it seems, supports the
idea. But it lias been discussed, spotliglited in the media, put into
laws and administrative decrees, and studied by academics for over
a decade now. Yet only a few big-city jurisdictions have actually
done much to put it in place where it is needed the most, namely,
high-crime neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, in many cities, it would appear that the thin blue
line is stretched incredibly thin. For example. New York City's over
7.4 million people have maybe 3,300 cops (out of a force of some
31,000) actually out on patrol at any given time of the day. Under
certain conditions, increasing police manpower can help restore
public order and check crime. But if we're talking about reducing
crime and disorder, then slight, targeted increases in police
manpower combined with community policing can almost certainly
take us farthest fastest and cheapest (Bayley, 1994).

In all frankness, I doubt that Washington can or will do much
to improve justice system operations in the interests of public safety
and in ways that respect the public's purse. 1 had the honor of
addressing newly-elected Members of this Congress on crime in early
December and again earlier this month. In both meetings I was
asked about the federal role in crime control. In both meetings 1
said that my recent research into the history of the federal role in
crime control is largely a tale of woe.

The federal government, in the agency of the federal Bureau of
Prisons, runs one of the best correctional systems in the world
(Dilulio, 1994). The federal prison system's drug treatment


programs are a real bright spot in the prevention and criminal
rehabilitation record (Dilulio, 1992). Beyond that, however, the
record of federal crime policy from 1968 to 1992 is not highly
encouraging (Dilulio et al., 1994; Wilson and Dilulio, 1995). This is
equally true for federal crime policy under Republican presidents
and Democratic ones.

The twin culprits have been, and continue to be, distributive
politics and weak inter-governmental administration. Policies are
enunciated in rhetoric; but they are realized (or not) in action. Good
ideas on crime prevention often get watered down by politcally
necessary compromises. Decent policies are poorly administered.

To cite just one example, after making a number of promising
starts, last year Congress approved and President Clinton signed a
federal crime bill that most definitely will not put "100,000 cops" on
America's streets, and most definitely will spread those policing
dollars around rather than target them— as both all relevant
scientific evidence and all common sense suggest they should be
targeted - for saturation community-based policing in high-crime
urban neighborhoods.

Likewise, anyone who thinks that the truth-in-sentencing
measures contained either in the 1994 federal crime bill or, for that
matter, in the crime package outlined in the Contract With America,
will succeed in putting most convicted violent and repeat offenders
behind bars for all or most of their sentences had better guess again.

In all honesty, the problem with federal crime policy, both
Democratic and Republican, both past and present, is not so much


that it is prone to pork on either the so-called prevention or the so-
called punishment side. The problem is that it is generally full of
baloney on both sides.


In conclusion, Washington's response to crime prevention is
still largely defined by revolving doors for violent and repeat
criminals, missing links with concerned citizens, unfounded
assumptions about the efficacy of federal anti-crime initiatives vis-a-
vis what actually happens at the sub-national level, and no real
appreciation for the extent to which the nation's crime problem is
concentrated in inner-city neighborhoods and among black kids,
especially males, who grow up severely abused and neglected.

Like most Americans, 1 hope that Washington will do better.

Thank you for inviting me.

35-667 96-17




Bastian, Lisa D. and Bruce M. Taylor. Young Black Male Victims .
Bureau of Justice Statistics (December 1994).

Bayley, David M. Police for the Future . Oxford University Press

Blumstein, Alfred A. "Prisons," in James Q. Wilson and Joan
Petersilia, eds.. Crime . Institute for Contemporary Studies (1995).

Bureau of Justice Statistics. Criminal Victimization in the U.S.. 1992

Women in Prison . (1994)

-— Murder in Large Urban Counties. 1988 (1993).

- — Survey of State Prison Inmates. 1991 . (1993).

—- National Update . (1992).

Dilulio, John J and Anne Morrison Piehl. "Does Prison Pay?
Revisited." The Brookings Review (Winter 1995).

— et al., "The Federal Role in Crime Control," in James Q. Wilson and
Joan R. Petersilia, eds.. Crime . Institute for Contemporary Studies

— "The Plain, Ugly Truth About Welfare." The Washington Post .
(January 15. 1995).

— "White Lies About Black Crime." The Public Interest (Winter

-—"The Question of Black Crime." The Public Interest (Fall 1994).

— "The Evolution of Executive Management," in John W. Roberts, ed..
Escaping Prison Myths . American University Press (1994).



— et al., BJS-Princeton Study Group, Performance Measures for the
Criminal Justice System . Bureau of Justice Statistics (October 1993).

— "Crime," in Henry Aaron and Charles Schultze, eds.. Setting
Domestic Priorities . Brookings Institution (1992).

Fleisher, Mark. Be ggars and Thieves: An Ethnography of Urban
Street Criminals . Plenum (draft, 1994).

Governor's Commission on Parole Abolition and Sentencing Reform.
Final Report . State of Virginia (August 1994).

Langan, Patrick A. "Between Prison and Probation." Science (May

Nathan, Richard P. et al. Urban Neighborhoods: Field Network Study .
Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government (November 1994).

National Research Council. Losing Generations . National Academy
Press (1993).

Russell, Don and Bob Warner. "Fairhill: City's Deadliest Turf in '94."
The Philadelphia Daily News (January 9, 1995).

Schall, Ellen. "Principles for Juvenile Detention," in Francis X.
Hartmann, ed.. From Children to Citizens . II. Springer- Verlag (1987).

Statistical Analysis Center. SAC Notes: Study Examines Inmate
Recidivism . Florida Statistical Analysis Center, Florida Dept.. of Law
Enforcement (July 1993).

Weiss, Heather B. "Home Visits: Necessary But Not Sufficient," in
Richard E. Behrman, The Future of Children . Center for the Future of
Children (1993).

Wilson, James Q. and John J. Dilulio, Jr. "State Policies and Federal
Politics: The Case of Crime Control," in Wilson and Dilulio, American
Government , sixth edition. D.C. Heath. (1995).



— "Crime and Public Policy," in Wilson and Joan R. Petersilia, eds..
Crime . Institute for Contemporary Studies (1995).

— "In Loco Parentis: Helping Children When Families Fail Them."
The Brookings Review (Fall 1993).

— and Richard Herrnstein. Crime and Human Nature . Simon and
Shuster (1985).


Appendices to Statement

1. List of first set of participants in the Brookings Institution's New
Consensus on Crime Policy project, and copy of the project's first
background statement (by Professors John J. Dilulio, Jr. and Joan R.

2. Copy of Anne M. Piehl and John J. Dilulio, Jr., "Does Prison Pay?
Revisited," The Brookings Review . Winter 1995.

3. Copy of John J. Dilulio, Jr., "White Lies About Black Crime, " The
Public Interest . Winter 1995.

4. Copy of John J. Dilulio, Jr. et al., "The Federal Role in Crime
Control," in James Q. Wilson and Joan R. Petersilia, eds.. Crime
(Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1995).

5. Copy of John J. Dilulio, Jr., "The Plain, Ugly Truth About Welfare,"
The Washington Post . January 15, 1995.


Members of the New Consensus on Ciume Poucy Group

Co-chairpersons :

John J. Dilulio, Jr., Princeton University, Brookings Institution
Joan PetersUia, University of California, Irvine


Professor David Bayley, State University of New York, Albany

Professor Alfred Blumstein, Caimegie Mellon University

Professor Charles Logan, University of Connecticut

Professor Mark Moore, Harvard University

Dr. Ethan Nadelmann, Lindesmith Foundation

Professor Anne Piehl, Harvard University

Professor Peter Reuter, University of Maryland

Professor Michael Tonry, University of Minnesota

Professor James Q. Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles


December 1994

The New Consensus on Crime Policy:
Planting the Seeds

Johin J. Dilulio, Jr.
Joan R. Petersilia

What to Do Versus How to Think

Broadly speaking, there are at least two important things that the New Consensus Group
(NCG) has the potential to achieve. First, we can make recommendations on how to chanee crime
policy . Second, we can offer guidance on how to think about crime policy . To achieve either goal,
we will need to read, research, write, discuss, debate, forgive and forget in common. To
accomplish either task, we will need the assistance of other colleagues who, in the latter stages of
our work, can serve as discussants, confidants, critics, and cheerleaders. And to have the sort of
intellectual and civic import that a group as deeply knowledgeable, diverse, and distinguished as
the NCG could have, we will need to speak as one.

We want to achieve both goals, but we are quite prepared to settle for a little new
consensus on the former (how to change crime policy) if we can yet emerge with lots of new
consensus on the latter (how to think about crime policy).

Having admitted as much, however, let us be clctir on three points. First, based on the
bilateral or trilateral discussions we've had with each of you, we approach our first meeting of
the NCG with at least one policy close to being deposited in the new consensus bank, namely,
changing sentencing policies so that at least some offenders whose only felony crimes are
low-level drug trafficking crimes are decarcerated. Of course, the devil is in the details: we shall
see what we all thir\k on this score when the time comes to discuss it. Second, we intend to push
very hard for other points of substantive policy consensus. If we fcdl, we fail, but it will not be for
lack of trjring on our part, nor, we're cor\£ident, on yours.

But, again, we are not the least bit poUyannish about how many significant new points of
consensus the NCG will ultimately reach on how to change crime policy. Nor, for that matter, are
we the least bit troubled by the prospect. For to a considerable degree, our medium is our

If after thoughtful research and probing, we decide in common on but a few new policy
proposals, then we will have done something valuable in both intellectual and civic terms.

But there is a bigger point behind the preceding paragraph. We are convinced that the
NCG's greatest comparative advantage lies mainly not in figuring out what to do, but in
explaining to a wide audience— professional criminologists, policymakers, administrators, average
citizens— how to think.

A new consensus on how to think about crime policy wovdd leave plenty of room for
strong disagreements on any number of issues pertaining to who ought to be arrested,
prosecuted, and punished for what, how, by whom, for how long, and under what conditions.
But it would shrink the space for rank ideological disagreements, delegitimatize facile talk about


The New Consensus on Crime Policy:
Planting the Seeds /2

all benefit-no cost policy options, and, by degrees, improve the process by which crime policy in
America is made cind administered.

Conceptual Anchors: Discretion, Sorting, Tradeoffs,
Effectiveness, Statistics, Public Philosophy, Morality

To get us started, we want to define seven concepts that might serve to anchor any
discussion of how to think about crime policy. In many respects, there is more to be gained by
dropping these conceptual anchors than there is by summarizing the competing data, such as
they are, on policy relevant topics. The simple truth is that people on opposite sides of crime
issues often talk past each other, not because they set out to do so, but because no one troubles
himself or herself to set out a common conceptual vocabulary. A common conceptual vocabulary
doesn't reconcile irreconcilable policy differences, but it can be very useful in discovering
whether, indeed, such differences actually do exist, and the precise terms on which they turn.


As everyone knows ("everyone" except most people save criminologists, practitioners, and
policy wonks), the vast majority of crimes are neither detected nor punished by the justice
system . It is always possible, of course, to increase or decrease the number of persons entering the
justice system. Legislators can "toughen" or "loosen" criminal penalties for some or all crimes.
Even under mandatory sentencing structures, judges can often impose harsher or more lenient
sentences on individual criminals as they see fit. PoUce "crackdowns" on drug dealers have been
known to double or triple the number of arrests made within a given area or jurisdiction. Within
broad limits, prosecutors can regulate the flow into corrections systems by how they handle plea
bargains. And probation and parole officials can do the same by how they process and monitor

The reality is that all actors in the justice system routinely exerdse discretion . Learning
how to manage discretion well is what being a justice system professional is ultimately aU about.
Thus, a rookie cop who collars everyone he can has to "learn the ropes" from veteran officers who
know what "really matters." Likewise, a rookie prosecutor has to learn the (often implicit) criteria
that experienced prosecutors use in setting the terms of plea bargains. And so it goes.

At bottom, debates about many corrections issues (e.g., mandatory sentencing) turn on the
question of which actors shall have their ability to exercise discretion increased or decreased, for
what reasons, and on what terms . Fundamentally, however, every component of the system
exercises a significant degree of discretion.


Discretion is used to sort the system's present and potential clients. Citizens themselves
routinely if unwittingly participate in the process. Consider the following typical statistics
gathered in 1985 by the New Jersey Department of Corrections:

— In 1985 the state experienced some 1,076,000 index crimes.

— Some 87,700 adults were arrested for indictable crimes.


The New Consensus on Crime Policy:
Planting the Seeds /3

— About 40,000 cases were ultimately referred to a grand jury (i.e., not downgraded,
dismissed, or diverted).

— Around 32,000 cases resulted in indictments (i.e., not acquitted, dismissed, rendered
inactive, diverted, or conditionally discharged).

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 43 of 51)