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55% of Violent Crimes, 84% of Property Crimes Go Unsolved

Some interesting stats on the clearance rates for crimes. Two in five murderers, three in five rapists, and three in four armed robbers, and nine in ten burglars “get away with it.” It’s also true that in some large cities the clearance rate for homicides is less than fifty percent, meaning most murderers complete their crimes successfully. There are sections of some U.S. cities where the clearance rate for murders is in the single digits, meaning there are urban zones where murder is de facto decriminalized. Of course, in such a scenario it’s hard to say where “murder” ends and self-defense or “street justice” begins.

The reason for this low clearance rate seems to be the diversion of so much police time and resources to the War on Drugs and other consensual crimes. So says a former New York prison official and a former undercover narcotics agent.

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  1. And these are just the crimes that get reported! There’s a couple of books by Sudhir Venkatesh about his time embedded with a Chicago street gang that controlled an entire housing tower in the projects in the 80’s. The gang handled property and violent crimes that went unreported to the police. Of course, they also extorted residents and terrorized the neighborhood with drug dealing related violence. But, hey, not a whole lot different from what the police were doing in the area.

  2. “There’s a couple of books by Sudhir Venkatesh about his time embedded with a Chicago street gang that controlled an entire housing tower in the projects in the 80’s.”

    Was that the Cabrini-Green complex? That place was legendary.

  3. Taylor homes, I believe. They have since been torn down. The two books are “The Underground Economy of the Working Poor” and “Gang Leader for a Day.” These books shed some scary light on the war on drugs and also reveal the Chicago Machine for what it is; just another gang. The gang leader taxed male dominated underground activity, and the president of the resident association (always a woman) taxed female underground activity (day care, boxed lunches, hair styling) and also controlled who received repairs to their apartment and who didn’t. It’s an interesting case study because this is what *could* happen in a stateless society if we’re not careful about organizing the communities we’re in.

  4. Those types of extortion rackets have always existed and people will always attempt them in the future but they have not and will not work well in a stateless situation. These schemes depend on a corruptable legal system. The reason they work is because those who employ them either are connected, entrenched, monied or willing and able to operate at the safest extreme periphery of legality. Those they exploit have no power and for those with no power within a system, the only recourse would be to go out side of the system, resorting to a more extreme degree of criminality. This is not an option for those victimized in our system because of the fear of further victimization by the legal system. There are countless incidents in the Icelendic Sagas and in the American push west where greedy and cruel people tried to take advantage of their neighbors with some degree of success for a limited time but eventually they would always pick on the wrong person. When an individual knows he must deal with these types of exploiters himself and that he will only have to answer to his neighbors and or clergy for his actions, these schemes often end very badly for the would be exploiters.

  5. I agree regarding organized crimes reliance on a corruptible legal system.. I merely speculate that there is the possibility of war lords and remnants of the state carving our their own fiefdoms. I suppose such a situation wouldn’t be “stateless” so much as it would be a cluster fuck of wannabe states warring for monopoly status.

  6. John Lott analyzes crime statistics and finds that 50 percent of counties in the US have zero murders in any given year and another 25 percent have just one murder. Over 70 percent of murders take place in just a little over 3 percent of the counties, but even that exaggerates the picture because anyone who has seen a picture of murders in a major city know how heavily concentrated they are in specific areas within the city.

    The numbers are quite interesting, and yet they are not widely known or discussed, and I think all we know the reason why. Honest discussion of race in the US is verboten, and that includes honest discussion of important public policy questions such as crime and education which have a racial dynamic. Instead of honest dialogue and the concomitant near certainty of hurting someone’s feelings, we get this incredible kibuki dance around the issue as public discourse takes place under the restraints of racial taboos. Better to blame guns (wood, metal and plastic), psychoactive dried vegetables, and foreigners (Mexicans, Colombians) than to speak the unspeakable, and observe the inconvenient truths about crime in America.

    Black police officers hired under lowered standards because of affirmative action are not competent to do their jobs, write up their reports, or solve crime. Even black lawyers can have trouble writing a grammatically-correct legal pleading. Communities which are overwhelmingly white – like Wyoming and Idaho – have homicide rates on par with Northern Europe even though they are heavily armed. This is not surprising since their ancestors tended to derive from Northern Europe. The whiter the neighborhood in America, generally the safer the neighborhood. African American neighborhoods tend to be dangerous areas marred by crime and chaos. The blacker the area, the more violent crime there is. Urban areas inhabited overwhelmingly by blacks – such as Compton, Camden, East St. Louis, south Chicago – have rates of homicide on par with Jamaica and Africa. African American neighborhoods are dangerous because they are inhabited by Negroes.

    And pointing out the obvious in public makes one a “racist.”

  7. I have worked in “social services” across the country; black, white, hispanic and Native American communities. Each has it’s own set of problems. I’ve worked in Camden, Compton, and Bridgeport, CT, to name a few places. The common theme is the flight of manufacturing jobs, the flight of decent black people from these areas, and federal and state money pouring into social services. I’ve seen Executive Directors of social action agencies rolling into work in cars I couldn’t afford, let alone the people they “serve.” The incentive built into this model is keep the spigot of grant money flowing in. Solving the problem doesn’t land you a cushy job for your entire life.

    This, of course, is not a reason to absolve anyone of individual responsibility. This is part of the reason I’m doing what I’m doing; I’m sick of seeing social services doing a mediocre job and getting paid top dollar for it. I’d rather see actual progress made among my people.

  8. I think the statistical data provides overwhelming evidence that the high rates of both homicides and incarceration are primarily traceable to drug prohibition. The chart I posted here concerning U.S. homicide rates over the last century shows that the rise or decline of the number of homicides is directly correlated with the existence or enforcement of prohibition laws. As the poster above said, the mass incarceration rate we see today began about the time of Nixon’s initiation of the drug war around 1970, and the intensification of that war under Reagan and its escalation under subsequent regimes. If drug prohibition were to be repealed, the rates of both homicide and incarceration would likely fall dramatically as it has in the past when prohibition laws have been repealed.

  9. “I’ve seen Executive Directors of social action agencies rolling into work in cars I couldn’t afford, let alone the people they “serve.” The incentive built into this model is keep the spigot of grant money flowing in. Solving the problem doesn’t land you a cushy job for your entire life.

    This, of course, is not a reason to absolve anyone of individual responsibility. This is part of the reason I’m doing what I’m doing; I’m sick of seeing social services doing a mediocre job and getting paid top dollar for it. I’d rather see actual progress made among my people.”

    “Social services” are to the public sector what corporations are to the private sector: Modern day manorial systems where “clients” and “employees” are the contemporary equivalent of serfs.

  10. On the question of criminological theory itself, I am both an ultra-conservative and an ultra-leftist. A sharp distinction has to be made between crime in the common sense of anti-social predatory behavior and crime as a legal and social construct.

    As an an example of the latter, gang killings are considered “crime” while starting a war under false pretenses and killing a million people is considered “foreign policy.” Invading and ransacking someone’s home and running off with their TV set is considered “burglary” or “robbery.” Invading and ransacking someone’s home and running off with their marijuana stash is considered “law enforcement.”

    On the other hand, I think predatory individuals (sociopaths, violent criminals, not a few cops and politicians) are most likely born that way. Study after study of criminal personalities seems to bear out the fact that predators come from backgrounds that transcend cultural, class, or racial boundaries, and usually demonstrate a proclivity for such behavior at an early age. Functional sociopaths become captains of industry, media bosses, presidents, police chiefs, narcotics agents, and prison wardens. Dysfunctional sociopaths become street criminals, vagrants, career prison inmates, and serial killers.

  11. “Functional sociopaths become captains of industry, media bosses, presidents, police chiefs, narcotics agents, and prison wardens. Dysfunctional sociopaths become street criminals, vagrants, career prison inmates, and serial killers.”

    This is another reason democracy sucks. In a democracy, as Hayek pointed out, the worst among us (i.e., sociopaths, though I don’t think he ever used that term) rise to the top.

    Dave

  12. Is this “worst rises to the top” argument a feature of democracy as a decision making tool in general, or rather specifically of political mass democracy?

  13. I suppose I would agree with Jean-Jacques Rousseau on that. Democracy is workable among small, culturally homogeneous groups, but far more problematic when dealing with mass organizations and heterogeneous population groups. I think that would be true of any kind of organization, but it’s particularly problematical when it comes to the state as the state has the unique feature of claiming a monopoly on the legitimate use of coercive violence. That means the very worst people in society will be the ones who are most motivated to gain influence within the state, and do whatever it takes to achieve it.

    Plato’s problem with democracy is that it invites the rule of the demagogue, the smooth talker who gains a political following simply by telling people what they want to hear, rather than the philosopher-king motivated by an appreciation for truth, beauty, and learning. Proudhon thought that the problem is that “the people” want simple and quick solutions to problems and they don’t want things like legal limitations on the power of savior-leaders getting in the way. The classic example of this is the yahoos who think the constitutional limits on police powers are just a get-out-of-jail-free pass for criminals and terrorists. John Stuart Mill and Kropotkin were both worried about the tyranny of the majority, e.g. the fate of the black in the white supremacist society, the fate of the fundamentalist in the atheist society, the fate of the meat-eater in the vegetarian society, etc.

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