Franklin Zimring - November 7, 2012

Wednesday, November 7 , 2012 | TBD | TBD

Franklin Zimring, William G. Simon Professor of Law and Wolfen Distinguished Scholar
UC Berkeley School of Law
University of California, Berkeley

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The City That Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and its Control

The forty-percent drop in crime that occurred across the U.S. from 1991 to 2000 remains largely an unsolved mystery. Even more puzzling is the eighty-percent drop over nineteen years in New York City. Twice as long and twice as large, it is the largest crime decline on record.

In The City That Became Safe, Franklin E. Zimring seeks out the New York difference through a comprehensive investigation into the city’s falling crime rates. The usual understanding is that aggressive police created a zero-tolerance law enforcement regime that drove crime rates down. Is this political sound bite true-are the official statistics generated by the police accurate? Though zero-tolerance policing and quality-of-life were never a consistent part of the NYPD’s strategy, Zimring shows the numbers are correct and argues that some combination of more cops, new tactics, and new management can take some credit for the decline. That the police can make a difference at all in preventing crime overturns decades of conventional wisdom from criminologists, but Zimring also points out what most experts have missed: the New York experience challenges the basic assumptions driving American crime- and drug-control policies.


About the Author

Franklin Zimring was a member of the University of Chicago law faculty as Llewellyn Professor of Law and director of the Center for Studies in Criminal Justice. He joined the Boalt faculty in 1985 as director of the Earl Warren Legal Institute. He was appointed the first Wolfen Distinguished Scholar in 2006.

Zimring’s major fields of interest are criminal justice and family law, with special emphasis on the use of empirical research to inform legal policy. He is best known for his studies of the determinants of the death rate from violent attacks; the impact of pretrial diversion from the criminal justice system; and criminal sanctions.

He has been a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University, and a fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences. He is a fellow of the American Society of Criminology and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Since 1998, he has been an expert panel member for the U.S. Department of Education Panel on Safe, Disciplined and Drug-Free Schools and an advisory member for the National Research Council Panel on Juvenile Crime: Prevention, Intervention and Control. He is the principal investigator for the Center on Culture, Immigration and Youth Violence Prevention.

Zimring is the author or co-author of many books on topics including deterrence, the changing legal world of adolescence, capital punishment, the scale of imprisonment, and drug control. Recent books include The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment (2003), American Youth Violence (1998), and Crime is Not the Problem: Violence in America (with Hawkins, 1997) .

Other recent publications include “The 1990s Assault on Juvenile Justice: Notes from an Ideological Background,” in the Federal Sentencing Reporter; “Marking Time on Death Row,” in The 1999 World Book Year Book; and “The Executioner’s Dissonant Song: On Capital Punishment and American Legal Values,” in Killing State: Capital Punishment in Law, Politics, and Culture (1999) and Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy Report (1999).