Act Now, or Expect More of the Same
The final causes of New York’s violence spike are less important than if elected leaders act to correct it.
In the early 1990s, something miraculous happened in New York City. Crime, which had risen almost uninterrupted for three decades, began suddenly and precipitously to decline. This drop happened in cities across the country. But New York City’s decline was, criminologist Franklin Zimring found, twice as long and twice as deep. For this remarkable reduction, Zimring labeled New York “the city that became safe.”
That miracle was foundational to the city’s revitalization and renewed growth. Without it, modern New York’s vibrancy would have been impossible. And it was foundational to recent efforts to reform the criminal justice system. Policymakers assumed that crime would continue to fall, and so the system needed to do less. The post-miracle level of safety has become, in other words, a condition of city life and city politics.
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