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2022.02.19进步的检察官是否应该为美国的杀人潮负责?

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发表于 2022-2-18 02:50:25 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

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What makes murder?
Are progressive prosecutors to blame for an American homicide wave?
Recent data suggests the story is much more complicated
FEB 19TH 2022

It was a short honeymoon. On January 1st, Alvin Bragg assumed the office of Manhattan district attorney. One of a new class of “progressive prosecutors”—criminal-justice reformers who aim to reduce the number of people in prison—Mr Bragg launched a spate of policy changes. Offences like burglary and possession of certain weapons would be downgraded; other crimes like prostitution and resisting arrest would no longer be prosecuted at all. Weeks later, New York City witnessed a sudden surge in violent crime. Two police officers were killed on the job. Mr Bragg had to announce a u-turn.

America has seen an explosion in violence since the start of the covid-19 pandemic. The national murder rate increased by 29% between 2019 and 2020—the largest single-year jump since 1905. That wiped out 20 years of progress on homicide. Data for violence in 2021 are still being collected, but the preliminary evidence suggests that homicide continued to rise, albeit at a less sharp rate. Among 22 large cities that have already reported, murders rose by 4% between 2020 and 2021.


As Americans try to make sense of it, some have blamed progressive policies and reformers like Mr Bragg. These days Republicans are criticising President Joe Biden for being soft on crime. They also see electoral rewards in attacking Democratic rhetoric to “defund the police”—as attempted, unsuccessfully, in liberal cities like Austin and Los Angeles. But new evidence suggests that the actual blame may not lie with urban progressives.

To test this hypothesis, a trio of social scientists examined what happened to crime after progressive prosecutors assumed office in 35 cities and counties over a six-year period. They found no detectable effect of policy change on rates of major crimes including murders. The claim that overly lax criminal-justice policy drove violence looks shaky; so too does the progressive contention that decriminalisation would drive down offences. Separate analysis by John Pfaff, a criminologist at Fordham University, found that murders went up by almost equal rates in cities with and without progressive prosecutors.


The reality is that the murder wave has affected every part of America—rural, suburban and urban. Some blame the upheaval of the pandemic. Yet the spike in murders was not mirrored in other rich countries that endured disruptive lockdowns. Homicide rates in Canada, Germany and Sweden only marginally increased.

Trends in murder are notoriously difficult to explain. Criminologists still cannot agree on what drove the great homicide decline that began in the 1990s. There is thus considerable debate about what is causing this unfortunate bit of American exceptionalism. It is easier to rule explanations out than endorse any single one. Progressives have blamed easy access to guns, which Americans bought in record numbers during the pandemic years. Yet when researchers at the University of California, Davis, computed the correlation of new gun purchases with murders, they found very little.


The Economist tried its hand at this statistical conundrum by gathering high-frequency data in ten cities on covid spread, lockdown severity and unemployment. We found that homicide rates were worse in areas with higher unemployment. This was also true in areas with more severe lockdowns, which we measured using data gathered by Google on the change in people’s mobility patterns. These correlations, though suggestive, cannot explain what caused the extraordinary upsurge.

That suggests that some humility about policy is in order. Progressive and conservative politicians have all failed to arrest the murder surge. Simple explanations, it turns out, are often simply wrong. ■

Sources: “Prosecutorial reform and local crime rates”, by Amanda Agan, Jennifer Doleac and Anna Harvey, working paper, 2021; Patrick Sharkey, americanviolence.org; FBI; World Bank



什么造就了谋杀?
进步的检察官是否应该为美国的杀人潮负责?
最近的数据表明,这个故事要复杂得多
2022年2月19日



那是一个短暂的蜜月。1月1日,阿尔文-布拉格就任曼哈顿地区检察官办公室。布拉格先生是新一类 "进步检察官"--旨在减少入狱人数的刑事司法改革者--中的一员,他发起了一系列的政策改革。入室盗窃和持有某些武器等罪行将被降级;卖淫和拒捕等其他罪行将完全不再被起诉。几周后,纽约市目睹了暴力犯罪的突然激增。两名警察在工作中被杀。布拉格先生不得不宣布调转方向。

自从covid-19大流行病开始以来,美国已经看到了暴力的爆炸。全国谋杀率在2019年和2020年之间增加了29%--这是自1905年以来最大的单年跳跃。这使20年来在杀人问题上的进展化为乌有。2021年的暴力数据仍在收集中,但初步证据表明,杀人案继续上升,尽管速度不那么快。在已经报告的22个大城市中,2020年和2021年之间的谋杀案增加了4%。


当美国人试图弄清这一点时,一些人指责进步的政策和像布拉格先生这样的改革者。这些天来,共和党人正在批评总统乔-拜登对犯罪的态度软弱。他们还认为,攻击民主党的 "取消警察经费 "的言论会带来选举回报--在奥斯汀和洛杉矶等自由派城市,他们曾试图这样做,但未获成功。但新的证据表明,实际的责任可能不在城市进步人士身上。

为了验证这一假设,三位社会科学家研究了在35个城市和县的进步派检察官上任后,在六年时间内发生的犯罪情况。他们发现政策变化对包括谋杀在内的主要犯罪率没有明显的影响。过于宽松的刑事司法政策导致暴力的说法看起来很不可靠;进步派关于非刑事化会导致犯罪率下降的论点也是如此。福特汉姆大学的犯罪学家约翰-普法夫(John Pfaff)的单独分析发现,在有和没有进步的检察官的城市,谋杀案的上升率几乎相同。


现实情况是,谋杀浪潮已经影响到美国的每一个地方--农村、郊区和城市。一些人指责这种大流行病的动荡。然而,谋杀案的飙升并没有反映在其他经历了破坏性封锁的富裕国家。加拿大、德国和瑞典的凶杀率仅有小幅上升。

谋杀的趋势是众所周知的难以解释。犯罪学家们仍然无法认同是什么推动了20世纪90年代开始的凶杀案大幅下降。因此,对于是什么导致了美国的这种不幸的例外情况,存在着相当大的争议。排除各种解释比认可任何一种解释都要容易。进步人士指责容易获得枪支,在枪支泛滥的年代,美国人购买枪支的数量创下了纪录。然而,当加利福尼亚大学戴维斯分校的研究人员计算新的枪支购买量与谋杀案的相关性时,他们发现很少。


经济学人》通过在十个城市收集关于病毒传播、封锁严重程度和失业的高频数据,尝试解决这一统计难题。我们发现,在失业率较高的地区,凶杀率更差。这在封锁更严重的地区也是如此,我们用谷歌收集的关于人们流动模式变化的数据来衡量。这些相关性,尽管具有暗示性,但不能解释是什么导致了这种非同寻常的激增。

这表明,对政策要有一些谦虚的态度。进步派和保守派政治家都未能阻止谋杀案的激增。事实证明,简单的解释往往是错误的。■

资料来源:《检察改革与地方犯罪率》。"检察改革和地方犯罪率",阿曼达-阿甘、珍妮弗-多莱克和安娜-哈维,工作文件,2021年;帕特里克-夏基,americanviolence.org;联邦调查局;世界银行
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