Economy Down, Crime Up: Only a Miracle Can Save us Now?

| Tue Aug. 22, 2006 1:39 AM EDT

Eight months ago, we ran a story by Daniel Duane asking, "Why is the 'Boston Miracle -- the only tactic proven to reduce gang violence -- being dissed by the L.A.P.D., the FBI, and Congress?" Those three parties haven't yet changed their tune, but you can add Oakland to the list of cities where police departments are embracing the "Operation Cease-Fire" approach: They target the top offenders, people whom (what a concept) they don't assume are beyond redemption. They haul them into court and tell them to get it together or else; and for the "or else," they offer help. It works. Incredibly well, according to many; in Boston, the number of murders went down in a matter of months.

All of which is great, though there should be a law that anytime you talk about fighting crime you must mention the economy: I live not far from the neighborhood featured in this New York Times story, and all my neighbors--as tough-on-crime a bunch as you'll ever meet--talk about how ten years ago there used to be real jobs for kids, and now there aren't. For what it's worth, they also say that this was "when Clinton was in the White House," and that if anyone by that name runs again, they're voting for them.

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