What Criminologists Don’t Say, and Why

What Criminologists Don’t Say, and Why. By John Paul Wright.

We know, for example, that criminal behavior is strongly intergenerational, that relatively few people account for the majority of all crimes, and that some offenders desist from crime over time but many others simply change the types of crimes they commit. We also have learned that most offenders are generalists—that is, they commit a diverse assortment of crimes—and that steps can be taken to reduce criminal events by making them more difficult to carry out. Most criminals, it turns out, are lazy. …

Several studies … show modest crime reductions connected with incarceration. Steven Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) and Thomas Marvell and Carlisle Moody found that each additional prisoner contributes to reductions ranging from 15 to 30 serious “index” crimes — which include murder, rape, aggravated assault, armed robbery, burglary, motor-vehicle theft, larceny, and arson. …

Liberal criminologists avoid discussing the lifestyles that criminal offenders typically lead. Almost all serious offenders are men, and they usually come from families with long histories of criminal involvement, often spanning generations. They show temperamental differences early in life, begin offending in childhood or early adolescence, and rack up dozens of arrests. Their lives are chaotic and hedonistic, including the constant pursuit of drugs and sex. They produce many children with different women and rarely have the means — or inclination — to support them. Active offenders exploit others for their own benefit, including women, children, churches, and the social-welfare system. They commit many crimes before getting arrested, and they move in and out of the criminal-justice system for decades. Many also report enjoying acts of violence; the social-media accounts of martyred gangsters shot by police often illuminate this subculture. Perhaps not surprisingly, they see the police as another competing tribe that has to be manipulated, controlled, and sometimes confronted. In sum, the lives of persistent criminal offenders are often shockingly pathological. The nature of this world is hard to grasp without witnessing it firsthand.

It’s political:

Unfortunately, criminology has had a long history of suppressing evidence for expressly political reasons. For most of its history, the discipline has overtly censored research, for instance, on biological, genetic, and neurological factors that scientists have shown to be associated with antisocial traits and behavioral problems. Even today, despite lots of hard scientific evidence — such as that 50 percent of the variance in antisocial behavior is attributable to genetic factors, or neuroimaging studies that show systemic structural and functional brain differences between offenders and non-offenders — those who pursue this line of research get branded as racists or even eugenicists. We have personally experienced hostile receptions when presenting our work in these areas at professional conferences and have been excoriated in the anonymous-review process when attempting to publish our papers. The disciplinary animus toward the study of biological factors extends to other individual factors, including intelligence and personality, and to a range of traits, such as callous and unemotional behavior, psychopathy, and self-control.

When it comes to disciplinary biases, however, none is so strong or as corrupting as liberal views on race. Disproportionate black involvement in violent crime represents the elephant in the room amid the current controversy over policing in the United States. Homicide numbers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Supplementary Homicide Reports, 1976–2005 indicate that young African-American males account for homicide victims at levels that are ten to 20 times greater than their proportion of the population and account for homicide offenders at levels that are 15 to 35 times greater than their proportion of the population. The black-white gap in armed-robbery offending has historically ranged between ten to one and 15 to one. Even in forms of crime that are allegedly the province of white males — such as serial murder — blacks are overrepresented as offenders by a factor of two. For all racial groups, violent crime is strongly intraracial, and the intraracial dynamic is most pronounced among blacks. In more than 90 percent of cases, the killer of a black victim is a black perpetrator.

Criminologists talk about the race-crime connection behind closed doors, and often in highly guarded language; the topic is a lightning rod for accusations of racial hostility that can be professionally damaging. They avoid discussing even explicitly racist examples of black-on-white crime such as flash-mob assaults, “polar bear hunting,” and the “knockout game.” What criminologists won’t say in public is that black offending differences have existed since data have been collected and that these differences are behind the racial disparities in arrest, prosecution, and incarceration. They also won’t tell you that, despite claims of widespread racial discrimination in the justice system, legal variables — namely, the number of prior arrests and the seriousness of the crime for which the offender has currently been arrested — account for all but a small fraction of the variance in system outcomes. Nor will they tell you the truth about politically correct remedies, such as diversifying police forces, hiring black police chiefs, or training officers in the alleged effects of implicit bias: that these measures won’t reduce racial disparities in crime. …

In the case of the DOJ reports, and in the eyes of many criminologists, racism has to be the cause of these disparities because recognizing the truth about the huge racial imbalance in crime is politically intolerable.

Truth and reality came in second, behind lefties preference for politically convenient fantasies and their lust for power. Btw, did you know that nearly all ex-cons vote left?