black on black crime

2017-Oct-04, Wednesday 17:53
mindstalk: (Default)
1) most crime is intraracial, why don't we talk about white on white crime as such?
1a) a black man is less likely to commit a violent crime than a cop is to kill an unarmed person.
2) it's a distraction
3) blacks talk about it all the time, thanks.
4) crime is linked to poverty, blacks are poorer, duh. In fact, poor urban whites are more violent than poor urban blacks. But more blacks are poor. for the last claim.

UK vs. US violence

2016-Jun-23, Thursday 00:19
mindstalk: (Default)
So there's this website (a one post blog), claiming to dispel the "myth" that the UK is more violent than the US. It talks a bit about the methodology problems of different definitions, and uses both police reports and crime surveys. It calculates per capita rates a bit oddly, but seems okay. The summaries, trying to compare like to like:

You are thus 1.1x (135.7 / 113.7) more likely to suffer robbery in the UK than in the US.

You are thus 4.03x (4.6 / 1.14) more likely to be murdered in the US than in the UK.

You are thus 1.27x (58.3 / 45.8) more likely to be knifed in the UK than in the US.

You are thus 35.2x (3.17 / 0.09) more likely to be shot dead in the US than in the UK. [I haven't been checking all the math, but that actually seems low, we have more gun homicides than his figure.]

You are thus 1.02x (26.7 / 26) more likely to be raped as a female in the US than in the UK.

You are thus 6.9x (241.05 / 34.7) more likely to suffer aggravated assault in the US than in the UK.

Also two non-violent ones:

You are thus 1.52x (702.1 / 460.1) more likely to suffer burglary in the US than in the UK.

You are thus 1.29x (229.5 / 176.9) more likely to suffer theft of a vehicle in the US than in the UK.

So, more likely to be killed or shot-killed in the US; we knew that. (You're also a bit more likely to be killed even without a gun in the US than in the UK, roughly 1.4 to 1.05), More likely to suffer property crime in the US, but those don't count here. Rape is about equal, FWIW. Somewhat more likely to be knifed or robbed in the UK, that's not good for them. And massively more likely to be assaulted in the US.

Except that if you look carefully, the definitions are still incomparable. The UK is using Grievous Bodily Harm, which as far as I can tell requires actual serious injury. Meanwhile the US's aggravated assault requires no injury at all! An assault is aggravated if it results in serious injury *or* if it involved a weapon that could have resulted in serious injury: if I slash at or shoot at you, that's agg assault, even if I fail completely and you're unarmed.

Comparing those seems... poor. Completely invalid, even.

I tried writing the listed e-mail address, but it bounced; the thing seems abandoned, not to mention anonymous, for all that someone slung it around in a recent online debate.
mindstalk: (Nanoha)

Perhaps most striking, while Richmond police have not killed anyone, other agencies have shot four suspects, killing two, while working special operations in the city since 2008.

Magnus has done something in Richmond that he believes is not done enough in other departments: He's been willing to second-guess the deadly force used by other cops.

"We use a case study approach to different incidents that happen in different places. When there is a questionable use-of-force incident somewhere else, we study it and have a lot of dialogue," Magnus said. "It's a model that is used in a range of other professions, but in some police circles, it's seen as judging in hindsight and frowned on. In my mind, that attitude is counterproductive."
mindstalk: (atheist)
It's usually said that homicides are the trustworthy crime statistic, since it's hard to hide dead bodies. But the Chicago police department has apparently been cooking the books under Garry McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, reclassifying homicides as "death investigations" and other tricks.

The vox entry links to a longish (not as long as the Chicago magazine one) article by Yglesias in 2003, on the cost of prison. Link and some quotes:
The trouble with prison isn't that it doesn't work; the trouble is that it doesn't work very well but does cost a fortune compared with other ways of reducing crime. Feeding, clothing, housing and guarding a convict for a year costs more than $20,000.
Post-incarceration, shorter sentences can be combined with properly supervised parole programs that replicate the crime-reduction effects of imprisonment at a fraction of the cost. In Texas (Texas!), a system of graduated sanctions for minor parole violations is credited by officials with an 8,000-person reduction in the state's prison population.
The drug business is a business like any other -- if you eliminate a salesman without eliminating the demand, the salesman's boss is just going to hire someone else. Drug treatment, by contrast, actually works because a reformed drug user isn't automatically replaced with a new addict, and treatment programs aimed at consumption reduction are seven times cheaper than prison.
laws like California's famous "three strikes and you're out" rule go "beyond the point of diminishing returns" because even "career criminals have a period of peak performance." Robbery, he explains, is "a crime of the young," with incidence dropping dramatically in the mid-20s and falling to almost nothing as people move through their 30s.
Similarly, doubling sentencing length doubles (or more) corrections expenditures without doubling the deterrent effect on potential offenders. Simply putting a larger proportion of the people who get arrested behind bars is subject to diminishing returns as well, because as long as prosecutors and judges are minimally competent, they'll have made sure that the worst criminals are already locked up. Whether you look at deterrence or incapacitation, beyond a certain point prison stops being cost-effective.
Zimring went so far as to suggest that even a "prison training program to teach robbers how to burglarize unoccupied dwellings" would work better than more prisons as a method of reducing violent crime. That's far-fetched, of course, but it illustrates a larger point: Giving muggers an alternative to mugging is the best way to get them to stop. Even Heritage's Mulhausen concedes that "there's some research that shows that vocational training helps reduce recidivism."
The notion that jobs rather than jails hold the real key to crime reduction isn't just a bleeding-heart liberal fantasy -- it's supported by sound social-science research.
RAND tried that theory out, conducting a study in which students got money as an incentive for staying in school. This, indeed, caused graduation rates to rise, and Greenwood calculates that 250 serious crimes could be averted for every $1 million spent on such incentives -- far more bang for your buck than the prison system offers. [$4000 per crime prevented]
Ten offenders could be subjected to a tough parole regime for the price of putting one man behind bars, and though testing and sanctions sounds harsh compared with freedom, it looks pretty good compared with prison.
mindstalk: (glee)
I did a bunch of reading on Cracked. I thought it was neat.

comic book inventions
Donald Duck Minecraft
Spider-Man inspired ankle-tracking
Captain Marvel Jr., Elvis

Donald Duck inventions
Inception, Raiders of the Lost Ark, ship raising with ping pong balls
(noted by Dutch Patent Office)
methylene (CH2)
Scrooge -> Tezuka -> manga

infrasound behind ghosts, dread and sightings (I knew of infrasound causing dread, but not that it was implicated in causing visual effects.)
fake confessions; composite sketches suck; lineups suck (pressure to
pick the best match even if wrong, or the one the cops think did it)
"The U.S. is the only modernized country to throw people in jail for
writing bad checks. In no other civilized (or even pretend civilized)
country will someone go to jail because he couldn't pay a $215 fishing
license fine. And then we have the perpetual drug war, which has added
around 200,000 people who wouldn't see jail time in Europe"
crack/cocaine difference is based on fraud and perjury

drug dogs have lots of false positives and pick up handler racism
car chases kill
"In fact, at least a third of all fatalities in high speed chases tend
to be innocent bystanders, just going about their day. We're talking
over 360 people per year, just flat out run over by cops and robbers who
watch way too many movies."
drug free zones are so extensive dealers stay near schools
red light cameras reduce side collisions, increase rear-ending by more
dry counties have more drunk driving fatalities and more teen drug use

celebrity conspiracy theories
Michael Jackson chemically castrated -- voice never changed
Jefferson Asperger's
Elvis constipated, Hitler poop fetish

And unrelatedly, Fox hates Bill of Rights
mindstalk: (Default)
Last night at Grendel's I brought up the leaded gas crime connection, and there was the usual "correlation isn't causation" debate. I don't know if anyone involved will see this, but I realized that my old blog posts didn't call out the strongest points, so figured I would now. Italics are quotes; paragraphs adjacent here aren't necessarily adjacent in the article. Quotes also don't include some links which exist there.

...a good rule of thumb for categorizing epidemics: If it spreads along lines of communication, he says, the cause is information. Think Bieber Fever. If it travels along major transportation routes, the cause is microbial. Think influenza. If it spreads out like a fan, the cause is an insect. Think malaria. But if it's everywhere, all at once—as both the rise of crime in the '60s and '70s and the fall of crime in the '90s seemed to be—the cause is a molecule.

So Nevin dove in further, digging up detailed data on lead emissions and crime rates to see if the similarity of the curves was as good as it seemed. It turned out to be even better: In a 2000 paper (PDF) he concluded that if you add a lag time of 23 years, lead emissions from automobiles explain 90 percent of the variation in violent crime in America.

Reyes discovered that this reduction wasn't uniform. In fact, use of leaded gasoline varied widely among states, and this gave Reyes the opening she needed. If childhood lead exposure really did produce criminal behavior in adults, you'd expect that in states where consumption of leaded gasoline declined slowly, crime would decline slowly too. Conversely, in states where it declined quickly, crime would decline quickly. And that's exactly what she found.

Every time, the two curves fit each other astonishingly well. When I spoke to Nevin about this, I asked him if he had ever found a country that didn't fit the theory. "No," he replied. "Not one."

[The linked paper, open access, lists eight countries besides the USA.)

Just this year, Tulane University researcher Howard Mielke published a paper with demographer Sammy Zahran on the correlation of lead and crime at the city level. They studied six US cities that had both good crime data and good lead data going back to the '50s, and they found a good fit in every single one. In fact, Mielke has even studied lead concentrations at the neighborhood level in New Orleans and shared his maps with the local police. "When they overlay them with crime maps," he told me, "they realize they match up."

Groups of children have been followed from the womb to adulthood, and higher childhood blood lead levels are consistently associated with higher adult arrest rates for violent crimes.

(From the editor's summary of a linked paper: "For example, for every 5 μg/dl increase in blood lead levels at six years of age, the risk of being arrested for a violent crime as a young adult increased by almost 50% ")

because big cities have lots of cars in a small area, they also had high densities of atmospheric lead during the postwar era. But as lead levels in gasoline decreased, the differences between big and small cities largely went away. And guess what? The difference in murder rates went away too. Today, homicide rates are similar in cities of all sizes. It may be that violent crime isn't an inevitable consequence of being a big city after all.

(Last night I was saying the difference was urban vs. rural, and Martin I think was skeptical; I misremembered, it's big city vs. small city that have converge.)

Although both sexes are affected by lead, the neurological impact turns out to be greater among boys than girls.

Other recent studies link even minuscule blood lead levels with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Even at concentrations well below those usually considered safe—levels still common today—lead increases the odds of kids developing ADHD.

More on lead

2013-Jan-09, Wednesday 17:53
mindstalk: (Default)
short version

Followup, including George Monbiot being skeptical, then convinced:

why leaded gasoline, or how corporations got what they already knew was a known neurotoxin into our gas supply (and it's still being made and sold to poor countries!)

contains links to 20 page articles on international lead levels

lead paint and murder

Personal observation: American white flight from the cities may have been motivated by a mix of justifiable fear of crime and less justifiable fear of black people, but in retrospect getting away from all the lead was sensible too. People are moving back now, to cities with lower crime rates (in fact, crime rates matching those of smaller cities) and lower lead levels to endanger one's children.

Lead and Crime

2013-Jan-05, Saturday 21:14
mindstalk: (atheist)
From Pinker's Better Angels I learned of the OECD-wide rise in crime rates in the 1960s and the fall in the 1990s. He wasn't sure why, and even speculated about Sixties values and disrespect for authority having an effect. Elsewhere, I've heard of childhood lead exposure being connected ot IQ drops and higher crime rates. But this makes it sound like a much more solid case, and one with primary responsibility for the crime wave. It's long, and in two parts, but well worth reading.

A few snips:

Like many good theories, the gasoline lead hypothesis helps explain some things we might not have realized even needed explaining. For example, murder rates have always been higher in big cities than in towns and small cities. We're so used to this that it seems unsurprising, but Nevin points out that it might actually have a surprising explanation—because big cities have lots of cars in a small area, they also had high densities of atmospheric lead during the postwar era. But as lead levels in gasoline decreased, the differences between big and small cities largely went away. And guess what? The difference in murder rates went away too. Today, homicide rates are similar in cities of all sizes. It may be that violent crime isn't an inevitable consequence of being a big city after all.


Lead in soil doesn't stay in the soil. Every summer, like clockwork, as the weather dries up, all that lead gets kicked back into the atmosphere in a process called resuspension. The zombie lead is back to haunt us.

Mark Laidlaw, a doctoral student who has worked with Mielke, explains how this works: People and pets track lead dust from soil into houses, where it's ingested by small children via hand-to-mouth contact. Ditto for lead dust generated by old paint inside houses. This dust cocktail is where most lead exposure today comes from.


Put this all together and the benefits of lead cleanup could be in the neighborhood of $200 billion per year. In other words, an annual investment of $20 billion for 20 years could produce returns of 10-to-1 every single year for decades to come. Those are returns that Wall Street hedge funds can only dream of.

And one thought of my own: could America's higher rates of violent crime be connected to our greater car culture? I don't know how far that goes: these days our homicide rate is high but I'm not sure our other crime rates are relatively high, and all that suburban building might have brought lots of people to new 'clean' soil. But worth a thought.
mindstalk: (atheist) Deadliest US incident after 9/11 and Oklahoma City. 45 dead via bombs. 3 dead by car, 7 by knife. 8 schoolchildren killed by a knife. 8 dead by car. 4 dead by car. mentions an case where 6 were killed and 15 wounded with a pair of knives. (The article has confused automatic and semi-automatic weapons, BTW. No automatics in Aurora, or any of the other shootings AFAIK.)

"Guns aren’t even the most lethal mass murder weapon. According to data compiled by Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, guns killed an average of 4.92 victims per mass murder in the United States during the 20th century, just edging out knives, blunt objects, and bare hands, which killed 4.52 people per incident. Fire killed 6.82 people per mass murder, while explosives far outpaced the other options at 20.82. Of the 25 deadliest mass murders in the 20th century, only 52 percent involved guns."

And of course though with 10 people involved and only 13 deaths they underperformed by a lot, compared to 4-8 per culprit with knives or cars. 6000 injured though. A previous Aum sarin attack killed 8 and injured 144.

Elsewhere it's noted that mass killings tend to be well planned. Reducing the number of guns carried could plausibly reduce the number of shootings in the heat of the moment, but you'd have to eliminate guns to eliminate mass shootings; if guns are available at all then killers could get them. And you're not going to eliminate guns in a country that hasn't made all large non-human animals go extinct. And even if you did, mass killers could turn to other means. Killing 27 with just a car might be hard but most of the other shootings have been much smaller scale.

And US mass shooting deaths tend to total under one hundred per year, vs. the 11,000 murdered with guns in general, or the 35,000 killed in traffic accidents.

Note: I could actually be friendly to gun control! But mass shootings are a terrible justification for it. TSA-level terrible, as in harassing 100 million gun owners and likely not even saving any lives. The 8000 handgun murders every year would be much more apropos, though it's also true that the US non-gun homicide rate is higher than most rich countries' total homicide rate. ( gives 1.38/100,000 for non-gun. 1.0 or less is typical for peaceful countries' total homicide.)

Also, if you insist on talking about guns, it's helpful to remember they're not all equal. Handguns make up the vast majority of gun murders (and half of all murders) and even the majority of mass shootings, I think, though semi-auto "assault" rifles do play a bigger (but still overall tiny) role in those. Hunting rifles are almost pristine at the moment... though I suspect you could easily kill 4-8 with a bolt action rifle if you wanted. Let alone a shotgun.
mindstalk: (Default)
A long piece by Adam Gopnik on the mass incarceration of America, theories about Northern (rehabilitation 'science') and Southern (control the darkies) causes, and why NYC's crime rate plummeted. Well worth reading.

Most wealthy societies imprison at about 100 per 100,000; the US does at 700 per 100,000.

Stuntz startlingly suggests that the Bill of Rights is a terrible document with which to start a justice system—much inferior to the exactly contemporary French Declaration of the Rights of Man.

The trouble with the Bill of Rights, he argues, is that it emphasizes process and procedure rather than principles. The Declaration of the Rights of Man says, Be just! The Bill of Rights says, Be fair! Instead of announcing general principles—no one should be accused of something that wasn’t a crime when he did it; cruel punishments are always wrong; the goal of justice is, above all, that justice be done—it talks procedurally.

This emphasis, Stuntz thinks, has led to the current mess, where accused criminals get laboriously articulated protection against procedural errors and no protection at all against outrageous and obvious violations of simple justice.

The other argument—the Southern argument—is that this story puts too bright a face on the truth.


For-profit prisons:

the Corrections Corporation of America. Here the company (which spends millions lobbying legislators) is obliged to caution its investors about the risk that somehow, somewhere, someone might turn off the spigot of convicted men:

He then talks about the wave of urban crime, especially in NYC, from the 1960s to 1980s. Real stuff, not conservative bogeymen.

And then, a decade later, crime started falling: across the country by a standard measure of about forty per cent; in New York City by as much as eighty per cent. By 2010, the crime rate in New York had seen its greatest decline since the Second World War; in 2002, there were fewer murders in Manhattan than there had been in any year since 1900.

One thing he teaches us is how little we know. The forty per cent drop across the continent—indeed, there was a decline throughout the Western world— took place for reasons that are as mysterious in suburban Ottawa as they are in the South Bronx.

But the additional forty per cent drop in crime that seems peculiar to New York finally succumbs to Zimring’s analysis

Zimring says the extra decline came raising the cost of entry into crime. Hot spot policing, and stop and frisk policies of youth, which hit poor neighborhoods more, but the decline in crime also benefited them more. Long prison sentences aren't it -- NYC is actually locking up a lot fewer people than at the height of the crime wave, and has gone lax on drugs and prostitution.

“In 1961, twenty six percent of New York City’s population was minority African American or Hispanic. Now, half of New York’s population is—and what that does in an enormously hopeful way is to destroy the rude assumptions of supply side criminology -- more minorities, less crime. Oops.

Tangentially, an interesting idea:

the coming of cheap credit cards and state lotteries probably did as much to weaken the Mafia’s Five Families in New York, who had depended on loan sharking and numbers running, as the F.B.I. could.


Wow, I had a crime tag in use already.
mindstalk: (Default)

Article argues that inner cities get too much drug enforcement policing and not nearly enough violent crime policing -- clearance rate for violent crimes there being much lower than in white suburbs. Makes brief analogy to the "boots on the ground" and surge policies in Iraq; brings up lack of local control of police and prosecutors.

Comments bring up other factors, like "no snitch" culture in the neighborhoods; cause and effect between police ineffectiveness and local distrust of police might be entangled.

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