Why is Crime Dropping?

 

Link sent in by Laci the Dog

 


The BBC reports on ten possible explanations. Somehow they didn't even mention more guns equals less crime. Here's my favorite.

There is a controversial theory put forward by economist Steven Levitt that the increased availability of legal abortion after the Supreme Court ruling in 1973 on Roe v Wade meant that fewer children were born to young, poor, single mothers. This, says the theory, stopped unwanted babies in the 1970s and 80s from becoming adolescent criminals in the decades that followed. But some of his peers have questioned whether the evidence really supports the theory.

 

(cross posted on Mikeb302000)

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

 

The Battle Over South Dakota’s Justified Homicide Bill

South Dakota‘s proposed “justified homicide bill” has been withdrawn for the time being, but don’t be surprised if it returns like cow flop on a South Dakota rancher’s boots.

What’s the controversy? Read from the bill for yourself, “Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is.”

Some proponents of the bill, including bill sponsor and anti-abortion advocate Rep. Phil Jensen (R-South WTFistan), claim the bill has nothing to do with abortion. Opponents, and even some advocates believe that’s hogwash – and if you can read, that seems a reasonable interpretation – and doubt that it’s legally sound.

Legal wrangles over abortion have gone non-stop since Roe v. Wade became the basis for the law of the land, but the nation rarely looks at the pretzel logic behind the legality debate.

Pro-lifers often argue a fetus is a full-blown human being and that it’s justified, if not morally correct, to perform a sort of vigilante capital punishment on abortion providers because they’re “murderers”. So if self-appointed juries can mete out capital punishment for “murdering” abortion providers, how can many of those same people support state-sponsored capital punishment.

Even if one wraps themselves in the cloak of religion, how’s it possible to cite the 6th commandment without caveat – Thou shalt not kill – as the basis for killing an abortionist while ignoring it when a capital criminal walks the Green Mile?

And for the record, pro-lifers could reverse this tangle of law and morality to bash the other side. After all, why is it OK for pro-choice advocates to argue it’s OK to terminate a pregnancy, but are equally inflamed about abolishing capital punishment.

The legality of this issue is valid, but it’s a dicey legal case that’s spread beyond just the courtroom. For years, both sides have short-sightedly used Roe v. Wade as a one-issue litmus test for judge approval to the exclusion of all other issues. Judges should be made up of more than this one issue.

Abortion is a tough nut, a moral and legal tangle whipped raw by high emotion. There’s no perfect answer because it isn’t a zero sum issue with a clear winner or loser – no matter how much the opponents and proponents wish it would be.

Perhaps we’d all be better off to step back and think about this a little more dispassionately instead of counting the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pinhead.

Or, a South Dakota legislator.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

The Battle Over South Dakota’s Justified Homicide Bill

South Dakota‘s proposed “justified homicide bill” has been withdrawn for the time being, but don’t be surprised if it returns like cow flop on a South Dakota rancher’s boots.

What’s the controversy? Read from the bill for yourself, “Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is.”

Some proponents of the bill, including bill sponsor and anti-abortion advocate Rep. Phil Jensen (R-South WTFistan), claim the bill has nothing to do with abortion. Opponents, and even some advocates believe that’s hogwash – and if you can read, that seems a reasonable interpretation – and doubt that it’s legally sound.

Legal wrangles over abortion have gone non-stop since Roe v. Wade became the basis for the law of the land, but the nation rarely looks at the pretzel logic behind the legality debate.

Pro-lifers often argue a fetus is a full-blown human being and that it’s justified, if not morally correct, to perform a sort of vigilante capital punishment on abortion providers because they’re “murderers”. So if self-appointed juries can mete out capital punishment for “murdering” abortion providers, how can many of those same people support state-sponsored capital punishment.

Even if one wraps themselves in the cloak of religion, how’s it possible to cite the 6th commandment without caveat – Thou shalt not kill – as the basis for killing an abortionist while ignoring it when a capital criminal walks the Green Mile?

And for the record, pro-lifers could reverse this tangle of law and morality to bash the other side. After all, why is it OK for pro-choice advocates to argue it’s OK to terminate a pregnancy, but are equally inflamed about abolishing capital punishment.

The legality of this issue is valid, but it’s a dicey legal case that’s spread beyond just the courtroom. For years, both sides have short-sightedly used Roe v. Wade as a one-issue litmus test for judge approval to the exclusion of all other issues. Judges should be made up of more than this one issue.

Abortion is a tough nut, a moral and legal tangle whipped raw by high emotion. There’s no perfect answer because it isn’t a zero sum issue with a clear winner or loser – no matter how much the opponents and proponents wish it would be.

Perhaps we’d all be better off to step back and think about this a little more dispassionately instead of counting the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pinhead.

Or, a South Dakota legislator.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

Will AZ kill a paranoid schizophrenic?

It's unlikely that Jared Loughner feels 'guilt' over what he did two days ago, if guilt means feeling bad or at least defensive about having done something morally wrong. But that won't stop Arizona from convicting him of murder and quite possibly killing him. There is already an on-point case, Clark v. Arizona, given the stamp of approval by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006, where a paranoid schizophrenic 17-year-old was convicted of murder (probably because he was not yet an adult, he was 'only' sentenced to 25 years to life).

After he shot and killed a police officer, Eric Clark called his mom and dad from jail and explained that Flagstaff, Arizona, "was a 'platinum city' inhabited by 50,000 aliens. He told them: 'The only thing that will stop aliens are bullets.'" For Arizona, that's a guilty frame of mind. Five years ago, Emily Bazelon wrote an excellent article summarizing the case called Crazy Law:

There's more...

Are Russia’s Neo-Nazis Upping the Ante?

On April 12, Eduard Chuvashov, a federal judge of the Russian Federation was gunned down in front of his apartment building in Moscow in a contract-style killing. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev denounced the killing as "cynical" and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice. Police officials stated that the murder may have been an act of retribution for the sentences Judge Chuvashov handed down against neo-Nazi skinheads convicted in violent hate crimes that targeted Russian minorities.

Just last week, the 47-year-old judge sentenced two skinheads to 10 years in prison. Their group, the Ryno Gang, was convicted of killing 20 people of "non-Slavic" appearance and posting videos of the murders on the Internet. Earlier this year, in February 2010, Chuvashov jailed nine members of "White Wolves," a gang of mostly teenage skinheads that clubbed and stabbed dark-skinned migrants to death.

At some level, this brutal murder - as brazen as it was - may come as little surprise those familiar with Judge Chuvashov. Judge Chuvashov had received death threats for several weeks before the attack. One neo-Nazi website had also included him on a list of "enemies of the people" to be targeted for violence. Furthermore, this killing seems to be part of a broader trend documented by the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis - Russia's leading monitors of neo-Nazi violence - in which the targets of neo-Nazi violence have increasingly included judges, lawyers, rights defenders, and journalists.

This murder can't but recall several other similarly brutal slayings of those involved in work to address neo-Nazi violence: Stanislav Markelov, a human rights lawyer who had represented the mother of an anti-fascist campaigner who was murdered by skinheads, was himself gunned down in downtown Moscow, allegedly also by neo-Nazis, in January 2009; Anatasia Baburova, a freelance journalist who reported on the problem of hate crime violence, was murdered with Markelov; and Nikolai Girenko, an expert witness in several hate crime cases, who was gunned down at the entrance of his St. Petersburg apartment in 2004. Nobody has been held accountable in any of these cases, although a group of men are on currently on trial in St. Petersburg for a range of murders and other crimes, including the murder of Girenko. 

The Russian criminal justice system, long overwhelmed by the surge in violent hate crimes, largely perpetrated by adherents of far-right and neo-Nazi ideologies, has begun to make some progress. In 2009, the number of such crimes decreased for the first time since 2004, in what was partly attributed to efforts by law enforcement to bring to justice some of those responsible for these brutal hate crimes. Yet, this latest tragic murder makes clear that these efforts need to include more robust protections to the prosecutors, judges, and witnesses involved in bring to justice those responsible for Russia's endemic hate crime problem.

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