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The Great American Crime Decline


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Table of Contents

Part I What Happened in the 1990s? 1: The Size and Character of the Crime Decline 2: The Environment for Optimism: Crime Trends and Attitudes about the Effectiveness of Crime Policies Part II The Search for Causes 3: The Usual Suspects: Imprisonment, Demography, and the Economy 4: Progeny of the 1990s: Three New Explanations of Decline Part III Two New Perspectives 5: Which Twin Has the Toni? Some Statistical Lessons from Canada 6: New York City's Natural Experiment Part IV Twenty-First Century Lessons 7: What Happens Next? 8: Seven Lessons from the 1990s Appendix 1: Crime and Abortion Policy in Europe, Canada, and Australia Appendix 2: Supplementary Statistics on Crime Trends in Canada during the 1990s Appendix 3: Trends for the City of New York and the United States during the 1990s Appendix 4: Measuring the Extent of Decline in Selected High-Decline Cities References Index

About the Author

Franklin E. Zimring is the William G. Simon Professor of Law and Wolfen Distinguished Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. His recent books include The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment (2003), voted a Book of the Year by the Economist and American Juvenile Justice (2005).


"When you examine a complicated matter such as the crime reduction in the U.S., seeking the causes for such reductions, be prepared for statistics. But it is worth it, particularly when one finds that New York City's drop in crime in all seven index crime rates are 'roughly double the national average.' Reading this book will greatly enhance your understanding of this crucial issue and put you on the path to becoming an expert."--Edward I. Koch, 105th Mayor of New York City "Zimring writes with a style and language that makes this book accessible to readers both inside and outside of academia. His comprehensive review and explanation of crime statistics will be understandable to more casual readers while his critical review of the various reasons offered to explain the crime decline is done in the careful, thorough, well-researched, and thought-provoking way that is expected in Zimring's work...this book is a rich compilation of numbers, analysis, and insight that is organized to give the reader a deeper understanding of American crime rates and the complex interplay of factors that might explain its decline in the 1990s."--Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare "'Success has many fathers,' and the Great Crime Decline of the 1990s is no exception. Who or what should actually get the credit? Frank Zimring provides an engaging guide to the data and the principal claimants for paternity. There are no simple answers here, but the reader will be rewarded with fresh and important lessons about crime, crime control, and the criminological enterprise, delivered with his usual wit and verve."--Philip J. Cook, Duke University "I learned a tremendous amount from Frank Zimring's highly readable and penetrating examination of the US drop in crime in the 1990s. Zimring is unsurpassed in his mastery of the relevant crime literature and the wildly varying pronouncements that have emerged from it over the last 40 years."--Punishment and Society "The crime drop of the 1990s was an important phenomenon that has led many scholars to search for the factors that contributed to it. Frank Zimring, one of the most prolific and important scholars of crime and criminal justice, addresses others' perspectives, some critically and some with valuable elaboration, and adds a number of his own. The result is a very readable volume that answers some questions and raises many more for future research."--Alfred Blumstein, Carnegie Mellon University "The Great American Crime Decline poses a vigorous and thoughtful challenge to existing theories and research on American crime trends. Zimring's engaging prose and provocative arguments should interest scholars, policymakers, and anyone interested in the causes and consequences of the nation's longest crime drop on record. A masterful contribution."--Richard Rosenfeld, University of Missouri-St. Louis "To his credit, Zimring disavows simplistic, one-dimensional answers....Recommended."--CHOICE "[Zimring] produced a masterpiece of scientific work, making sense of the data when possible and showing his readers when it is not possible to conclude anything. This is exactly what a scientific approach should yield...Zimring covers his topics comprehensively...His book demonstrates how research should be done to bring about understanding about changes in the crime rate."---Net: Business Network "Zimring's book stands out as a much-needed roadmap for this rough terrain. It clarifies the main lines of contention, summarizes what areas of consensus exist, and tries to present a coherent view of the field, which is filled with mixed results and conflicting arguments. The Great American Crime Decline is an accessible and engaging book that invites readers to delve deeper into the subject." --Vanessa Barker, Assistant Professor of Criminology at Florida State University

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