Are Marriage, Police Better Anticrime Aids Than Social Programs?


Heather MacDonald of the conservative Manhattan Institute has taken the New York Times to task for an editorial on black crime that she says “compresses within a few hundred words decades of failed thinking on public safety. If the president-elect follows its hoary prescriptions, he will be guaranteed to waste taxpayer money without having the slightest effect on crime.” The editorial was prompted by the Northeastern University study finding that the number of homicides committed by black males under the age of 18 rose 43 percent between 2002 and 2007, while the number of gun homicides by this same group rose 47 percent. Homicides by white youth during that period decreased slightly. MacDonald criticizes the Times for not discussing the fact that the black homicide rate is ten times higher than the white rate.

The Times said that “public policy should discourage young people from joining gangs in the first place by keeping them in school, getting them jobs and giving them community-based counseling and social service programs.” MacDonald asks, “How, exactly, is ‘policy’ to do that? Young people keep themselves in school by not dropping out or by not engaging in the behaviors that, in rare cases, get them expelled.” She faults the Times for not discussing marriage, which she calls “the most effective anticrime (and antipoverty) strategy.” She said that in 2005, the national black illegitimacy rate was 70 percent, and it approached 90 percent in many inner cities (compared with a white illegitimacy rate of 25 percent), concluding that “the disappearance of marriage from the black community is a social cataclysm.” Policing is nearly as taboo a solution to crime as marriage, MacDonald says. The Times “argues–against all evidence” that social service programs are far more important than policing.


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