Big-city crime may “increase exponentially” and become an issue in the 2008 presidential election, says Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton. Speaking yesterday at the American Society of Criminology convention in Los Angeles, Bratton urged criminologists to study the causes of the recent increases in violence in many cities. He theorized that the “dissolution of families–kids growing up with no controls in their lives”–could lead to a generation of “superpredators” that once was predicted by criminologist John DiIulio.
Bratton criticized criminologists for not conducting timely and relevant studies for criminal justice practitioners like police chiefs. He said the only criminological study that influenced him significantly was the early 1980s “broken windows” article by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling. Also at the criminology session, Californa State Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero said that criminology research “is of critical value but it is mostly ignored.” Romero, who holds a Ph.D. in psychology, urged criminologists to find advocates of their ideas in legislative bodies. Unlike Bratton, Romero, who heads a committee overseeing the California corrections system, said that academic research supports the need for parole reform but many lawmakers “don’t have the political will to implement it.”