Books in Brief (Based on NIJ Research)

The Crime Drop in America

Alfred Blumstein and Joel Wallman, eds.
Cambridge Studies in Criminology, 2005

According to the editors of The Crime Drop in America, violent crime in America shot up sharply in the mid-1980s, continued to climb until 1991, and then declined over the next 7 years to a level not seen since the 1960s. The puzzle of how and why this occurred has gone largely unsolved, they say, despite the attempts of criminologists, policymakers, politicians, and average citizens to explain it. The editors note that explanations have ranged from improvements in policing to a decline in crack-cocaine use.

The book assembles experts as they seek to identify and assess the plausible causes and competing claims of credit for the crime drop. They examine the role of guns and gun violence, prisons, homicide patterns, drug markets, economic opportunities, changes in policing, and changing demographics, with a primary focus on urban violence.

Police Innovation: Contrasting Perspectives

David Weisburd and Anthony A. Braga, eds.
Cambridge Studies in Criminology, 2006

During the last three decades, American policing has seen significant change and innovation, write the editors of Police Innovation: Contrasting Perspectives. In a relatively short time, they say, police began to reconsider their fundamental mission, the nature of the core strategies of policing, and the character of their relationships with the communities they serve.

This book brings together police scholars to examine innovations in policing that emerged during the last decades of the twentieth century. The focus is on:

  • Community policing
  • Broken windows policing
  • Problem-oriented policing
  • Pulling levers policing
  • Third-party policing
  • Hot spots policing
  • Compstat
  • Evidence-based policing

According to the editors, this was not intended to be an exhaustive list of innovations; instead the approach was to identify those that influenced the array of police tasks, practices, and strategies broadly affecting American policing.

Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration

Devah Pager
University of Chicago Press, 2007

Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration reports on a field experiment in which young men were paired, randomly assigned criminal records, and sent on hundreds of real job searches throughout Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to the publisher, all were attractive, articulate, and capable, yet those with a "record" received less than half as many callbacks as those without criminal backgrounds. Young black applicants with clean records fared no better than white men supposedly just out of prison. The author contends that such barriers to legitimate work are an important reason that many forme prisoners soon find themselves back in the circumstances that led them to prison in the first place.

NIJ Journal No. 259, March 2008

Date Created: March 17, 2008