All the good news about crime rates dropping since 1994 “is not quite as good as it seems,” says John J. DiIulio Jr. of the University of Pennsylvania, writing in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. DiIulio says that “four sets of facts mug the conventional post-1994 crime-drop narrative.” He says we don’t know why crime is down or how to keep it on the run, the federal government systematically undercounts crime, and that “far too many young Americans are still being lost to what Barack Obama has eloquently called ‘an epidemic of violence that's sickening the soul of this nation.’ “
Even though the U.S. is “a half-century into massive public and private anti-crime investments, tougher criminal sentencing policies, and security-seeking personal life style changes,” crime rates are not demonstrably lower than they were 50 years ago, and in many places the crime problem “is worse than it was when the national alarm about crime was first sounded,” DiIulio says. He calls on the “Obama-Biden White House” to take the lead on a new federal crime bill before Republican presidential hopefuls or the GOP in Congress beats Democrats to it. DiIulio endorses a wide range of reforms, including legalizing marijuana and a national commission to study crime.