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The forty-percent drop in crime that occurred across the U.S. from 1991 to 2000 remains largely an unsolved mystery. Even more puzzling is the eighty-percent drop over nineteen years in New York City. Twice as long and twice as large, it is the largest crime decline on record. In The City That Became Safe, Franklin E. Zimring seeks out the New York difference through a comprehensive investigation into the city's falling crime rates. The usual understanding is that aggressive police created a zero-tolerance law enforcement regime that drove crime rates down. Is this political sound bite true-are the official statistics generated by the police accurate? Though zero-tolerance policing and quality-of-life were never a consistent part of the NYPD's strategy, Zimring shows the numbers are correct and argues that some combination of more cops, new tactics, and new management can take some credit for the decline. That the police can make a difference at all in preventing crime overturns decades of conventional wisdom from criminologists, but Zimring also points out what most experts have missed: the New York experience challenges the basic assumptions driving American crime- and drug-control policies. New York has shown that crime rates can be greatly reduced without increasing prison populations. New York teaches that targeted harm reduction strategies can drastically cut down on drug related violence even if illegal drug use remains high. And New York has proven that epidemic levels of violent crime are not hard-wired into the populations or cultures of urban America. This careful and penetrating analysis of how the nation's largest city became safe rewrites the playbook on crime and its control for all big cities.
Why does the United States continue to employ the death penalty when fifty other developed democracies have abolished it? Why does capital punishment become more problematic each year? How can the death penalty conflict be resolved? In The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment, Frank Zimring reveals that the seemingly insoluble turmoil surrounding the death penalty reflects a deep and long-standing division in American values, a division that he predicts will soon bring about the end of capital punishment in our country. On the one hand, execution would seem to violate our nation's highest legal principles of fairness and due process. It sets us increasingly apart from our allies and indeed is regarded by European nations as a barbaric and particularly egregious form of American exceptionalism. On the other hand, the death penalty represents a deeply held American belief in violent social justice that sees the hangman as an agent of local control and safeguard of community values. Zimring uncovers the most troubling symptom of this attraction to vigilante justice in the lynch mob. He shows that the great majority of executions in recent decades have occurred in precisely those Southern states where lynchings were most common a hundred years ago. It is this legacy, Zimring suggests, that constitutes both the distinctive appeal of the death penalty in the United States and one of the most compelling reasons for abolishing it. Impeccably researched and engagingly written, Contradictions in American Capital Punishment casts a clear new light on America's long and troubled embrace of the death penalty.
Many theories--from the routine to the bizarre--have been offered up to explain the crime decline of the 1990s. Was it record levels of imprisonment? An abatement of the crack cocaine epidemic? More police using better tactics? Or even the effects of legalized abortion? And what can we expect from crime rates in the future? Franklin E. Zimring here takes on the experts, and counters with the first in-depth portrait of the decline and its true significance. The major lesson from the 1990s is that relatively superficial changes in the character of urban life can be associated with up to 75% drops in the crime rate. Crime can drop even if there is no major change in the population, the economy or the schools. Offering the most reliable data available, Zimring documents the decline as the longest and largest since World War II. It ranges across both violent and non-violent offenses, all regions, and every demographic. All Americans, whether they live in cities or suburbs, whether rich or poor, are safer today. Casting a critical and unerring eye on current explanations, this book demonstrates that both long-standing theories of crime prevention and recently generated theories fall far short of explaining the 1990s drop. A careful study of Canadian crime trends reveals that imprisonment and economic factors may not have played the role in the U.S. crime drop that many have suggested. There was no magic bullet but instead a combination of factors working in concert rather than a single cause that produced the decline. Further--and happily for future progress, it is clear that declines in the crime rate do not require fundamental social or structural changes. Smaller shifts in policy can make large differences. The significant reductions in crime rates, especially in New York, where crime dropped twice the national average, suggests that there is room for other cities to repeat this astounding success. In this definitive look at the great American crime decline, Franklin E. Zimring finds no pat answers but evidence that even lower crime rates might be in store.
In the past decade, alarming reports of youth violence have appeared with increasing frequency in the news media. Legislators across the United States have responded to this sense of national emergency by changing many of the laws designed to cope with juvenile offenders. But are we really in the midst of a surge in youth violence? More to the point, what causes youth violence and what should we do about it? Franklin Zimring offers the definitive examination of adolescent violence in the United States both as a social phenomenon and a policy problem. This book covers the range of youth violence issues in the 1990s, from crime statistics to demographic projections to new legislation. The result is a thorough debunking of Congressional predictions of "a coming storm of juvenile violence" and the half-baked policy proposals that accompany such warnings. The book sets forth comprehensive and dispassionate analyses of three key areas of youth violence policy: adolescent firearms possession and use, standards for transfer from juvenile to criminal court jurisdiction, and legal sanctions for adolescents who kill. Throughout the book, the core issues of youth violence in the 1990s are examined with an unprecedented degree of analytic rigor. Zimring also offers an appropriate set of responses to youth violence that are consistent with a positive future for the juvenile court and for America's children. Timely and authoritative, American Youth Violence gives students, scholars, and policy makers a much-needed tool with which to fashion a constructive response to one of the nation's most disturbing social ills.
This work attempts to explain changes in the legal conception of adolescence as a stage of life and as a transition to adulthood. The intended audience includes lawyers and others—such as parents, professionals, and kids—puzzled by trends labeled "children's liberation" and "the revolution in juvenile justice." Much cited and long recognized as an authority, it is considered a classic of law & society.

Changes in legal conceptions of youth are interesting in their own right. They are also a useful way of examining important social, political, and economic changes. It is said that legal studies, "properly pursued, lead to a fuller understanding of the larger world of which the law and its institutions are a part." That is no less true when looking at "children" and "juveniles" through a legal lens.

The law often compartmentalizes underage persons with bright lines and legal fictions such as "parens patriae" to allow leeway for them that would not be tolerable for adults. The law creates huge divides based on status and age. The standards against which to judge the exit from adolescence are concrete and measurable: a single chronological age. And an adult is anyone the state legislature says is adult.

But life is not that simple, and the price we pay for sustaining such illusions is considerable. Adolescence is both a period in itself and a transition. This book takes seriously that status and the idea of transition, and attempts to explain the legal responses and concepts relevant to this important stage of life.

The 2014 digital edition includes a new preface by the author and such quality formatting features as active Contents, linked chapter notes, original tables from the print edition, and a fully-linked and paginated Index, to allow continuity with the print edition, citation and referencing, and the convenience of readers. 

The forty-percent drop in crime that occurred across the U.S. from 1991 to 2000 remains largely an unsolved mystery. Even more puzzling is the eighty-percent drop over nineteen years in New York City. Twice as long and twice as large, it is the largest crime decline on record. In The City That Became Safe, Franklin E. Zimring seeks out the New York difference through a comprehensive investigation into the city's falling crime rates. The usual understanding is that aggressive police created a zero-tolerance law enforcement regime that drove crime rates down. Is this political sound bite true-are the official statistics generated by the police accurate? Though zero-tolerance policing and quality-of-life were never a consistent part of the NYPD's strategy, Zimring shows the numbers are correct and argues that some combination of more cops, new tactics, and new management can take some credit for the decline. That the police can make a difference at all in preventing crime overturns decades of conventional wisdom from criminologists, but Zimring also points out what most experts have missed: the New York experience challenges the basic assumptions driving American crime- and drug-control policies. New York has shown that crime rates can be greatly reduced without increasing prison populations. New York teaches that targeted harm reduction strategies can drastically cut down on drug related violence even if illegal drug use remains high. And New York has proven that epidemic levels of violent crime are not hard-wired into the populations or cultures of urban America. This careful and penetrating analysis of how the nation's largest city became safe rewrites the playbook on crime and its control for all big cities.
Why does the United States continue to employ the death penalty when fifty other developed democracies have abolished it? Why does capital punishment become more problematic each year? How can the death penalty conflict be resolved? In The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment, Frank Zimring reveals that the seemingly insoluble turmoil surrounding the death penalty reflects a deep and long-standing division in American values, a division that he predicts will soon bring about the end of capital punishment in our country. On the one hand, execution would seem to violate our nation's highest legal principles of fairness and due process. It sets us increasingly apart from our allies and indeed is regarded by European nations as a barbaric and particularly egregious form of American exceptionalism. On the other hand, the death penalty represents a deeply held American belief in violent social justice that sees the hangman as an agent of local control and safeguard of community values. Zimring uncovers the most troubling symptom of this attraction to vigilante justice in the lynch mob. He shows that the great majority of executions in recent decades have occurred in precisely those Southern states where lynchings were most common a hundred years ago. It is this legacy, Zimring suggests, that constitutes both the distinctive appeal of the death penalty in the United States and one of the most compelling reasons for abolishing it. Impeccably researched and engagingly written, Contradictions in American Capital Punishment casts a clear new light on America's long and troubled embrace of the death penalty.
“... It’s the most entertaining book I’ve read this year.”
— Steve Chapman, Columnist and Editorial Writer, The Chicago Tribune

There are no pretentious pronouncements about public policy or dry conclusions from social science in these pages ... because it is a report from what Frank Zimring calls “my second career, and everybody else’s second career, the hard work of becoming an adult in the modern world.” 

Why is a piranha swimming in your pool a better illustration of how people get over-committed than a giant man eating shark? (Consult chapter 3.) What should you say when your eight-year-old asks whether you would save him or his sister if the lifeboat only had room for one? (See chapter 5.) Why are professors who hate to teach at their home campus positively lustful when invited to lecture somewhere else? (Chapter 11 explains.) When you finally succeed in giving up cigarettes, how should you feel about those who still smoke? (See chapter 2.) Why do so many of the people lined up to visit world famous landmarks look so unhappy to be there? (Chapter 20 reveals the secret.) 

“Frank Zimring has gained renown as a penetrating thinker and a tireless scholar, but Memos from Midlife reveals what his friends have always known: He is also a charming and thought-provoking companion with a devilish sense of humor. Addressing a range of unconventional topics, from ‘the arrogance of nostalgia’ to Portnoy’s real complaint, he provides both illumination and fun, as well as guidance on living wisely and well. It’s the most entertaining book I’ve read this year.”
— Steve Chapman  
Columnist and Editorial Writer  
The Chicago Tribune 

A new collection of compelling and humorous essays, in the Journeys & Memoirs Series from Quid Pro Books.

Many theories--from the routine to the bizarre--have been offered up to explain the crime decline of the 1990s. Was it record levels of imprisonment? An abatement of the crack cocaine epidemic? More police using better tactics? Or even the effects of legalized abortion? And what can we expect from crime rates in the future? Franklin E. Zimring here takes on the experts, and counters with the first in-depth portrait of the decline and its true significance. The major lesson from the 1990s is that relatively superficial changes in the character of urban life can be associated with up to 75% drops in the crime rate. Crime can drop even if there is no major change in the population, the economy or the schools. Offering the most reliable data available, Zimring documents the decline as the longest and largest since World War II. It ranges across both violent and non-violent offenses, all regions, and every demographic. All Americans, whether they live in cities or suburbs, whether rich or poor, are safer today. Casting a critical and unerring eye on current explanations, this book demonstrates that both long-standing theories of crime prevention and recently generated theories fall far short of explaining the 1990s drop. A careful study of Canadian crime trends reveals that imprisonment and economic factors may not have played the role in the U.S. crime drop that many have suggested. There was no magic bullet but instead a combination of factors working in concert rather than a single cause that produced the decline. Further--and happily for future progress, it is clear that declines in the crime rate do not require fundamental social or structural changes. Smaller shifts in policy can make large differences. The significant reductions in crime rates, especially in New York, where crime dropped twice the national average, suggests that there is room for other cities to repeat this astounding success. In this definitive look at the great American crime decline, Franklin E. Zimring finds no pat answers but evidence that even lower crime rates might be in store.
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