John Tierney at City Journal recently published a piece on the problems associated with a lack of viewpoint diversity in our universities and how this affects science. Yes, this issue extends beyond the concerns of a lowely criminologist and is now taken seriously by a range of scholars.
Tierney's writing is crisp and he does a good job in debunking some of the more exagerated claims made by liberal scholars. Indeed, he presents a relatively reasoned argument that the left's institutional dominance has resulted in entire fields becoming politicized. We know about the usual culprits, such as Women's Studies, ________ Studies, and sociology. But did you know that environmenal health has also been affected, as have other disciplines associated with the health sciences?
Political advocacy is a cancer to science.
You can read his piece here
You can also listen to a brief podcast/soundcast here
In case you missed it, many criminologists are now arguing that we should empty our prisons or, at a minimum, reduce the number of people in prison by 50 percent. Prisons don't work, they say, and they make people worse.
Nowhere has this movement been more succesful than in the juvenile justice system. A large cabal of left-leaning academics and their financial backers have pushed for states to close ALL juvenile institutions. These institutions, they argue, cut off future opportunities, make minor offenders into monsters, and are home to horrible abuses.
States are receptive to this rhetoric. They see it as a way to save $$ and to show how "evidence based" they are. They are also hyper-sensitive to the politics of incarceration, which manages to wrap together into one big ugly package matters of race, oppression, harm, and discrimination.
Not long ago I was speaking to the head of corrections in a neaby stated. Off the record he told me that they were releasing kids back into the community who had committed serious crimes, including murder and rape, and that they were hamstrung to do anything more to protect the community. I could tell this pained the guy. He went on to tell me about the craziness of the current movement to close down all institutions. Some kids, he argued, needed to be placed in a facility where they could get the help they needed, while others were simply too dangerous to leave in the community.
Personally, I see incarceration of adults and youth as 1) a proper and restrained response to serious and continual violations of the criminal law, as 2) a resource that shouldn't be abused (used too much), and 3) as a way to effectively protect the public.
Unfortunately, if you have studied the history of corrections you know that we bounce from one extreme to the other--always with grand promises that hardly ever pan out. So it is with offering "kids" who have committed some really aweful crimes a 2cd, 3rd, or 10th chance.
A large body of criminological literature shows that criminal participation is relatively stable over time and situation and that young people who commit serious crimes are most at risk of becoming life-course persistent offenders. They will go on to sell drugs, to rape and rob, and maybe even kill someone.
But in today's correctional climate, few want to admit that these "brute facts" matter. Instead, advocates are more than willing to place serious offenders back into your neighborhood. To them, putting people in jail or prison brings harm to them--to the offenders--and they are more than willing to overlook or to ignore or to explain away the crimes they commit when placed back into your neighborhood. Remember, the sociologists at Harvard and other universities that adovate for these policies don't have to live with the consequences of their policies--only you do.
The Washington Post recently ran an investigatory piece on DC's use of the "second chance" law. You have to read their analysis to beleive that intelligent people, including judges, not only act with abandon when it comes to protecting the community but do so by mindlessly mimicing the rhetoric of anti-incarceration advocates.
You can read the story here:
If you want a good laugh, read the following paper published in 1934 by Robert Crosby Eells.
A new paper, with new data, examines whether police officers discriminate in their killing of African-American’s. Remember, this was THE issue that drove inflamed rhetoric, calls for body cameras, and riots. Even many professors (or course) jumped on the “cops are murdering blacks” bandwagon because (a) they actually believed it, or (b) they wanted to believe it.
Turns out, it’s not so easy to say that discrimination is the driving force behind police shootings. The data collected by the FBI are incomplete. The data from the Washington Post contained various reporting biases (like systematically underreporting the race of the officer).
Enter John Lott and Carlisle Moody’s new paper with new data. From what I can tell, the data are more complete and cover a broader range of incidents that the FBI, CDC, or WP data.
What do they find?
First, their data show larger increases in police shootings overall from 2013 to 2015 than other datasets show.
Second, and this is important, they find that white officers are significantly LESS LIKELY than black officers to kill black suspects.
Third, in all models, black officers were significantly MORE LIKELY to shoot and to kill black suspects.
Fourth, the media apparently over-report instances where white officers kill black suspects and under-report instances where black cops kill black suspects. Go figure.
Lastly, no other variables really mattered. Not the racial composition of the police force, the number of cops in an area, or the practice of community policing.
The take away message: White cops shoot/kill black suspects are rates lower than black cops do, and media reporting is seriously biased.
You can read the study here:
There has been much talk about the bubble many faculty live in. Well, new evidence shows just how extensive this bubble is and how different it makes us relative to the rest of America. Published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the authors document how counties where major universities reside voted relative to the rest of the state. The results are stark and really highlight the HUGE political tilt found on university campuses.
John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi
Professors of Crime and Criminology