Criminologists Have Lousy Set Of Crystal Balls: Zimring


A baffling drop in U.S. crime rates in the 1990s has researchers grasping for answers to explain a recent uptick in violent crime in some U.S. cities, including Oakland and Richmond, Ca., reports the Oakland Tribune. The usual suspects often linked to falling crime rates – economic growth, increased imprisonment, access to legal abortions, and aggressive police activity – seem to match the 40 percent drop in homicides and robberies between 1993 and 2000 in some places but not others.

Nobody predicted the crime bust. “We have the lousiest set of crystal balls in the social sciences,” said University of California at Berkeley criminologist Franklin Zimring, who spoke at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in San Francisco Friday.”Our predictive tools by and large stink,” he said. Reasons behind the recent rise in crime in some East Bay cities are just as elusive.’While most large cities experiencing more violent crime lately are in the Midwest, Oakland had the largest increase in homicides, which jumped 57 percent last year from 2005. That’s an astonishingly large increase, said criminologist Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University.


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