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What to Do About Crime
Independent Policy Forum Luncheon Honoring James Q. Wilson
Thursday, January 19, 1995

Robert Higgs
Research Director, Independent Institute
Don B. Kates, Jr.
Criminologist and Civil Rights Attorney
Chairman, Phoenix Operations, Inc.
William I. Koch
Chairman, Koch Crime Commission
Research Fellow, Hoover Institution

Prosperity and mobility have emancipated people from the traditional bonds of family and village, producing an explosion of artistic creativity, entrepreneurial zeal, political experimentation, and criminal activity. And today, as the criminal justice system has become increasingly politicized and bureaucratized, crime has become the number one issue for Americans.

Drawing upon his newest book, Crime: Twenty-Eight Leading experts Look at the Most Pressing Problem of Our Time, prominent criminologist James Q. Wilson will analyze how we can obtain truly meaningful crime control. How does crime affect our communities and the economy? Why do some people become chronic, persistent criminals? Has the rise in single-parent families and the welfare state caused a rise in crime rates? Does the U.S. rely more on prisons than other western nations? Would more police on the streets reduce crime? What about television violence, guns, etc.? Is privatization an option?

For example, in his presentation, Professor Wilson will discuss how 6% of juvenile males consistently commit 50% of violent crimes. By the end of this decade, the U.S. population will get younger with an increase of more than one million people between ages fourteen and seventeen, and the addition of 30,000 high rate muggers, killers, and thieves. What are the real causes of such behavior? Are unemployment, racism, poor housing, too little schooling, and low self-esteem responsible; or are temperament, family experience and neighborhood effects root causes? Would swifter and more certain justice make a difference? How about the death penalty, bootcamps and “three-strikes-and-you’re-out?”

From cover stories from Time and Commentary to The Los Angeles Times, James Q. Wilson’s latest findings have become the most sought after in order to systematically grapple with the persistent and controversial problem of crime and violence.

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