The Best 12 Books on Franklin E. Zimring
In The City That Became Safe, Franklin E. Zimring seeks out the New York difference through a comprehensive investigation into the city's falling crime rates. The usual understanding is that aggressive police created a zero-tolerance law enforcement regime that drove crime rates down. Is this political sound bite true-are the official statistics generated by the police accurate? Though zero-tolerance policing and quality-of-life were never a consistent part of the NYPD's strategy, Zimring shows the numbers are correct and argues that some combination of more cops, new tactics, and new management can take some credit for the decline. That the police can make a difference at all in preventing crime overturns decades of conventional wisdom from criminologists, but Zimring also points out what most experts have missed: the New York experience challenges the basic assumptions driving American crime- and drug-control policies.
New York has shown that crime rates can be greatly reduced without increasing prison populations. New York teaches that targeted harm reduction strategies can drastically cut down on drug related violence even if illegal drug use remains high. And New York has proven that epidemic levels of violent crime are not hard-wired into the populations or cultures of urban America. This careful and penetrating analysis of how the nation's largest city became safe rewrites the playbook on crime and its control for all big cities.
In Crime is Not the Problem, Zimring and Hawkins revolutionize the way we think about crime and violence--by forcing us to distinguish between crime and violence. The authors reveal that when we compare the United States to other industrialized nations, in most categories of nonviolent crime (burglary, theft, and other property offenses), American crime rates are comparable--even lower, in some cases. Moreover, this general trend holds true when we compare specific cities of roughly the same size (New York and London, Los Angeles and Sydney). As the authors show, crimes like burglary and theft are a part of modern urban life worldwide. Only when it comes to lethal violence does the United States outpace other Western nations, with homicide rates many, many times greater. Equally interesting, the authors find that most killings in America are unconnected to criminal activity (that is, more murders stem from arguments than from break-ins or muggings). But if high property-crime rates don't kill innocent victims in other countries, why are the risks so much greater that victims will be killed or maimed in the United States? And what can be done to bring the death rate from American violence down to tolerable levels? To address these questions, the authors take a hard look at what is believed about the causes of lethal violence. Here, too, the conventional wisdom about the causes of violence is subject to revision. The impact of television and movie violence on rates of homicide is wildly over-rated, as Zimring and Hawkins demonstrate with data from Europe and Japan. By contrast, it is hard to overestimate the importance of guns--used in 70% of all killings--in the distinctively high rates of deadly violence in America. Reducing lethal violence required different tactics than fighting a general war on crime, the authors conclude. They argue that traditional law and order, tough on crime campaigns blur the distinctions between lethal violence and other offenses, they argue. Lawmakers need to craft a sophisticated response that specifically addresses death dealing mayhem.
In Crime is Not the Problem, Zimring and Hawkins reshape the debate about crime in the United States, throwing sharp new light on old questions and suggesting new directions for public policy. By making the crucial distinction between lethal violence and crime in general, they clear the ground for a targeted, far more effective response to the real crisis in American society.
Punishment and Democracy is the first examination of the actual impact this law has had. Franklin Zimring, Sam Kamin, and Gordon Hawkins look at the origins of the law in California, compare it to other crackdown laws, and analyze the data collected on crime rates in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco in the year before and the two years after the law went into effect. They show that the "three strikes" law was a significant development in criminal justice policy making, not only at the state level, but also at the national level. They conclude with an examination of the trend toward populist initiatives driving penal policy.
The importance of the subject and the stature of the authors make this book required reading for policy analysts, criminal justice scholars, elected officials, and indeed any American seeking to know more about "get-tough" criminal sentencing.
THE CHANGING LEGAL WORLD OF ADOLESCENCE attempts to explain changes in the legal conception of adolescence as a stage of life and as a transition to adulthood. The intended audience includes lawyers and others—such as parents, professionals, and teens—puzzled by trends labeled "children's liberation" and "the revolution in juvenile justice." Often cited and long recognized as an authority, it is considered a classic of law & society. The 2014 edition by Quid Pro Books includes a new Preface by the author.
Changes in legal conceptions of youth are interesting in their own right. They are also a useful way of examining important social, political, and economic changes. It is said that legal studies, "properly pursued, lead to a fuller understanding of the larger world of which the law and its institutions are a part." That is no less true when looking at "children" and "juveniles" through a legal lens.
The law often compartmentalizes underage persons with bright lines and legal fictions such as "parens patriae" to allow leeway for them that would not be tolerable for adults. The law creates huge divides based on status and age. The standards against which to judge the exit from adolescence are concrete and measurable: a single chronological age. And an adult is anyone the state legislature says is adult.
But life is not that simple, and the price we pay for sustaining such illusions is considerable. Adolescence is both a period in itself and a transition. This book takes seriously that status and the idea of transition, and attempts to explain the legal responses and concepts relevant to this important stage of life.
Part of the Classics of Law & Society Series by Quid Pro Books.
An American Travesty is the first scholarly book in half a century to analyze the justice system’s response to sexual misconduct by children and adolescents in the United States. Writing with a refreshing dose of common sense, Franklin E. Zimring discusses our society's failure to consider the developmental status of adolescent sex offenders. Too often, he argues, the American legal system ignores age and developmental status when adjudicating young sexual offenders, in many cases responding as they would to an adult.
“An opinionated, articulate, and forceful critique of current politics and practices. . . . I would recommend this book for anyone interested in rethinking the fundamental questions of how our courts and systems should respond to these cases.”—Law and Politics Book Review
“One of the most important new books in the field of juvenile justice. . . . Zimring offers a thoughtful, research-based analysis of what went wrong with legal policy development.”—Barry Krisberg, President, National Council on Crime and Delinquency
This book is the first comprehensive assessment of incapacitation. Zimring and Hawkins show the increasing reliance on restraint to justify imprisonment, analyze the existing theories on incapacitation's effects, assess the current empirical research, report a new study, and explore the links between what is known about incapacitation and what it tells us about our criminal justice policy. An insightful evaluation of a pressing policy issue, Incapacitation is a vital contribution to the current debates on our criminal justice system.
Offering the most reliable data available, Zimring documents the decline as the longest and largest since World War II. It ranges across both violent and non-violent offenses, all regions, and every demographic. All Americans, whether they live in cities or suburbs, whether rich or poor, are safer today. Casting a critical and unerring eye on current explanations, this book demonstrates that both long-standing theories of crime prevention and recently generated theories fall far short of explaining the 1990s drop. A careful study of Canadian crime trends reveals that imprisonment and economic factors may not have played the role in the U.S. crime drop that many have suggested.
There was no magic bullet but instead a combination of factors working in concert rather than a single cause that produced the decline. Further--and happily for future progress, it is clear that declines in the crime rate do not require fundamental social or structural changes. Smaller shifts in policy can make large differences.
The significant reductions in crime rates, especially in New York, where crime dropped twice the national average, suggests that there is room for other cities to repeat this astounding success. In this definitive look at the great American crime decline, Franklin E. Zimring finds no pat answers but evidence that even lower crime rates might be in store.
In The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment, Frank Zimring reveals that the seemingly insoluble turmoil surrounding the death penalty reflects a deep and long-standing division in American values, a division that he predicts will soon bring about the end of capital punishment in our country. On the one hand, execution would seem to violate our nation's highest legal principles of fairness and due process. It sets us increasingly apart from our allies and indeed is regarded by European nations as a barbaric and particularly egregious form of American exceptionalism. On the other hand, the death penalty represents a deeply held American belief in violent social justice that sees the hangman as an agent of local control and safeguard of community values. Zimring uncovers the most troubling symptom of this attraction to vigilante justice in the lynch mob. He shows that the great majority of executions in recent decades have occurred in precisely those Southern states where lynchings were most common a hundred years ago. It is this legacy, Zimring suggests, that constitutes both the distinctive appeal of the death penalty in the United States and one of the most compelling reasons for abolishing it.
Impeccably researched and engagingly written, Contradictions in American Capital Punishment casts a clear new light on America's long and troubled embrace of the death penalty.