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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Letters

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Also: The last 3 years on record in Oakland are showing a radical spike in juvenile arrests. That is cause for alarm and action.

Posted by Max A on 09/22/2011 at 5:09 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Are there stats on youth victimization? I definitely see youth victimization as a more important stat to track.

Also, what do we know about unreported crime in each city? OPD has a community relations problem that could very easily result in a much lower rate of reporting than Long Beach. Staffing in Long Beach is also much higher, which means they can probably process more reporting, and that citizens are a lot less likely to get frustrated when attempting to report a crime. Less reporting changes stats too.

Also, Oakland is closing schools. That means we have fewer kids. Is it possible that fewer kids is leading to fewer youth crimes?

Posted by Max A on 09/22/2011 at 5:06 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

It turns out that it doesn't matter what years you pick, youth crime has dropped more rapidly in Oakland than in Long Beach since the 1990s.

Compare 1999 to 2007, for example. In 1999, Oakland had just 60 homicides, and it had 5,754 total violent crimes. In 2007, it had 119 homicides, and 7,604 violent crimes. In other words, homicides increased by 98% in that time span, and violent crimes jumped 32%.

You'd expect to see youth crimes go up too, right? Wrong. In 1999, Oakland had 1,248 felony youth crimes, and 1,892 total youth crimes. But in 2007, Oakland had just 697 felony youth crimes, and 1,057 total youth crimes. In other words, as overall crime rose significantly from 1999 to 2007 in Oakland, youth crime plummeted. Felony youth crimes dropped 44%, and total youth crimes went down by 44% as well.

Now let's look at Long Beach and its curfew. In 1999, it had 46 total homicides, and 3,257 total violent crimes. In 2007, it had 42 homicides, and 3,426 total violent crimes. Homicides, in other words, went down 8.6%, while total violent crimes increased by 5.2%.

Long Beach's youth crimes sort of mirrored this mixed trend. In 1999, it had 1,177 felony youth crimes, and 3,278 total youth crimes. In 2007, it had 1,129 felony youth crimes, and 4,241 total youth crimes. In other words, felony youth crimes went down slightly -- 4.1 percent -- while total youth crimes went up 29.3%.

In short, while youth crime stayed relatively static in Long Beach, with its curfew, it dropped dramatically in Oakland without a curfew -- even while crime overall jumped significantly.

This data shows two things:
1. Curfews don't impact youth crime.
2. Oakland's high crime problem doesn't really involve its youth.

To compare any years you wish, go here:

http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/jurisdictionaltrends…


Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/22/2011 at 4:43 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Agreed. The argument against the suppression point of the triangle is civil rights. So trying suppression vs. the other two elements *would* require a stronger argument, and not trying it would require less evidence that it's ineffective. But I think we have that strong argument in Oakland. The other two have failed, crime is soaring out of control, we're having - literally - 10 murders per month, etc. Unless there's some really pressing reason for not trying the more drastic measures, Oakland should be trying them. I would say that not to do so actually curbs the civil rights of all the victims and potential victims.

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 4:06 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

That's excellent Cherry Picking, Bob.

In Oakland, 1995 was the last year of a massive homicide surge. 2005 was the last year of a homicide lull. By this, I mean if you'd picked '96 instead of '95, you'd have started with 103 murders instead of 153. And if you'd picked 2006 instead of 2005, you'd have ended with 148 murders instead of 94. Literally by offsetting the ten year period by a single year, you'd have gone from a major decrease in homicides to a major increase.

I can't imagine a better illustration of cherry picking. I don't have access to all the data sets you have access to though, so I can't cherry pick the exact same set of stats.

If you'd be kind enough to show us where we can find annual data sets on crime in all these cities, we can have a cherry picking contest: I'll try to make things look as bad as I can, you try to make things look as rosy and hopeful as I can!

But back to my point: all we're proving here is that the presentation of crime data can easily be manipulated.

What I'd like to see is something that transcends all this. I want us to be able to TRY curfews and TRY gang injunctions and see if they can work here, for us, with supervision from all the civil rights advocates who will be here to watch the process and progress.

Oakland has been willing to continue with it's Measure Y and Measure OO projects, and give them a chance to be TRIED over a period of years. So far the data on violent crime reduction before and after isn't actually all that convincing. But we're allowing the programs to be TRIED because we have hope we can make them work.

Further, people who oppose Y and OO point to city wide stats instead of stats that relate to the kids involved. People who oppose gang injunctions point to neighborhood stats in North Oakland instead of stats that relate to the enjoined people.

Everybody is pushing stats that push an agenda and/or ideology. My take is that we need to be prepared to try all sorts of tactics and see how they work for us, and also be prepared to look at none of the tactics as a panacea and all of them as part of a holistic approach.

The DOJ, as I keep saying, endorses Prevention, Intervention and Suppression as key components that don't work without each other. One loud faction in Oakland repeatedly endorses Prevention and Intervention and decries Suppression. I think after years of that not working, it's time to TRY something different. I expect it to be closely monitored for abuse, but it needs to actually happen.

Posted by Max A on 09/22/2011 at 3:39 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"There's apparently plenty of other data out there, and my impression is that you cherry picked."

How's this for "cherry picking:" According to a report based on FBI Uniform crime statistics, Oakland has actually experienced a much larger drop in youth crime over the past thirty years than Long Beach. Oakland also experienced a much larger drop in youth crime in the ten years after Long Beach adopted its youth curfew:

Oakland Youth Crime from 1976-2005 (ages 10-17)
All -- down 82.8 percent
Felonies -- down 65.6 percent
Violent crimes -- down 47.7 percent

Long Beach Youth Crime 1976-2005 (Ages 10-17)
All -- down 3.4 percent
Felonies -- down 44.9 percent
Violent crimes -- up 22.4%

Oakland Youth Crime 1995-2005 (Ages 10-17)
All -- down 69.5%
Felonies -- down 53.5%
Violent crimes -- down 48.7%

Long Beach Youth Crime 1995-2005 (Ages 10-17)
All -- Up 15.8%
Felonies -- Down 15.9%
Violent crime -- Up 40.4%


In short, Oakland showed much higher declines in youth crime without a curfew compared to Long Beach and its curfew. In fact, in the decade immediately after Long Beach adopted its curfew, its youth crime actually went up 15.8%.

For the complete data go here (it's actually even worse for curfews than what I've pulled out above):

http://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/cjcj/CAY…

And lest you think this is an apples v. oranges comparison; the FBI data shows that Long Beach actually has a much higher youth crime rate per capita than does Oakland.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/22/2011 at 1:54 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Wait, Bob, if adult crime dropped also dropped in New Orleans, why aren't you concluding that that the curfew affected adult crime too? Look at the Dallas stats: youth victimization droppe more than youth crime. That woul seem to indicate that having fewer kids on the street means there's less opportunity for adults to commit crimes against easy targets, thus bringing down overall crime.

We can spin statistics all day long. All I'm saying is: you selectively quoted a liberal think tank and the most progressive County probation director in the state. There's apparently plenty of other data out there, and my impression is that you cherry picked.

Posted by Max A on 09/22/2011 at 12:11 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Overall it seems there are just too many uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) variables to call any of these controlled experiments. I'm not a criminologist or a statistician, but with the profound, dramatic drops in violent crime in the examples Max posted, I'd say, when you hear hoofbeats, don't look for zebras.

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 11:35 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"After stepping up curfew enforcement in the mid-1990s, San Jose did not experience a decline in youth crime or juvenile violent deaths.
....
San Jose's curfew is enforced disproportionately on Latino youth."

From the above, isn't it possible that most of the crime in San Jose was being committed by non-Latino and/or non-youth, making the curfew ineffective due at least partially to the way it was enforced?

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 11:12 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Here's a comparison of youth curfews in two major Bay Area cities (it comes from the same study I cited in the original story):

"San Jose/San Francisco. This is a case study of "curfew extremes" in neighboring large cities. San Francisco vigorously enforced its curfew, with more than 1,400 arrests in the 1987-90 period. It then cut back arrests in the early 1990s and nearly abandoned the curfew altogether (two arrests in 1995-97). San Jose went in the opposite direction: compared to just nineteen curfew arrests in the entire 1987-94 period, police stepped up curfew enforcement to arrest more than 1,600 youth in 1995-97. It would be hard to find two cities whose curfew enforcement policies contrast more sharply. Sixty correlations between curfew arrest rates and rates of youth and adult arrest, crime reported to police, and youth and adult violent death were conducted for the years 1985 through mid-1998. The results show that:

San Francisco did not experience an increase in youth crime or juvenile violent deaths after abandoning its curfew in the 1990s.

After stepping up curfew enforcement in the mid-1990s, San Jose did not experience a decline in youth crime or juvenile violent deaths.

Comparatively, San Francisco's downward trend in youth and in overall crime rates in the 1990s were more favorable than San Jose's.

San Jose's curfew is enforced disproportionately on Latino youth. Compared to youth of other races/ethnicities, Latino youth are five times more likely to be arrested for curfew than their representation in the youth population. Moreover, they are two to three times more likely to be arrested for curfew than their contribution to youth crime would lead one to expect.

When all crimes and time periods rather than selective ones are considered, there is no evidence that San Jose's curfew had a beneficial effect, and no evidence that San Francisco's curfew abandonment had a negative effect, on youth crime, crime in general, or youth safety from violent death."

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/22/2011 at 10:52 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Max-i pulled the page i referenced for you however, best to read the entire publication as it is very current October 2010; US Dept of Justice report on Best Practice to Address Community Gang Problems ranked activities implemented in 6 metro areas -- you will see that there are 2 areas that have had the most effective impact-- below is a copy but may be difficult for you to read in this format.

Table A1: Program Implementation Characteristics: Degree of Importance and Levels of Implementation
Program Implementation Characteristics
Degree of Importance to Program Success†
Levels of Implementation by Project Site‡
Chicago
Mesa
Riverside
Bloomington-Normal
San Antonio
Tucson
Program Elements (Structure)
City/County Leadership
***
2
4
4
1
1
1
Steering Committee
**
1
4
3
1
1
0
Interagency Street Team/Coordination
***
4
4
3
0
0
0
Grassroots Involvement
*
3
1
1
0
1
0
Social Services: Youth Work, Individual Counseling, Family Treatment, and Recreation
**
3
3
3
2
3
3
Criminal Justice Participation
***
4
4
4
1
1
0
School Participation
**
1
3
3
3
2
0
Employment and Training
**
3
1
4
3
1
0
Lead Agency/Management/Commitment
***
4
4
4
0
0
0
Strategies
Social Intervention: Outreach and Crisis Intervention
**
4
3
3
1
1
0
Community Mobilization: Interagency and Grassroots
**
1
3
2
1
0
0
Provision of Social Opportunities: Education, Job, and Culture
**
3
2
2
2
1
0
Suppression
***
4
4
3
0
0
0
Organizational Change and Development
***
2
4
4
0
0
0
Operating Principles
Targeting Gang Members/ At-Risk Gang Youth
***
4
2
3
1
3
3
Balance of Service
***
4
3
3
0
0
0
Intensity of Service
*
4
3
3
1
0
0
Continuity of Service
**
2
1
2
2
0
2
Source: Spergel, Wa, and Sosa, 2006, pp. 216–217
†Importance of characteristic to success: ***=extremely, **=moderately, *=somewhat
‡Levels of implementation: 4=excellent, 3=good, 2=fair, 1=poor, 0=none

You can go to the USDept of Justice for the publication as this makes it difficult to read.

Posted by ZRobinette on 09/22/2011 at 10:48 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Also, I would assume that statisticians already made the comparison with other cities and found there was not a similar drop in crime in cities not subject to the curfews. I assume they're not fresh off the turnip truck and they know at least as much about how to conduct these experiments as a journalist does. But if they didn't, I'd ask again for Bob to show me the crime drop in similar cities not subject to the curfew. That's the evidence *I* need for me to believe the curfews did *not* work.

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 10:36 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

What I meant by "controlled experiment" is that you can't separate out adults from youth as as control group, i.e., the group that was not subject to the curfew.

These groups mix with each other. You can't claim that a drop in adult crime after a youth curfew proves the youth curfew didn't work because there was a drop in adult crime as well. The adults didn't receive "the drug" but they received the indirect effects of it.

This also applies to cities. Even if crime drops in city A after a curfew in next-door-city B, it doesn't mean the curfew was ineffective because crime dropped in city A "anyway." The curfew could have had an indirect effect on city B.

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 10:33 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"Of course it's impossible to have a controlled experiment with this a la FDA testing a new drug."

Actually, it's not. If New Orleans, for example, experienced a similar or higher drop in adult crime than in youth crime for the same period, then you wouldn't be able to say that's proof that curfews work.

Or, if Baton Rouge also experienced a similar drop in juvenile crime during the same time and didn't have a curfew, then again, you wouldn't be able to you say that youth curfews caused the drop in juvenile crime in New Orleans, because of what happened in Baton Rouge.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/22/2011 at 10:22 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"Without that data, you can't attribute drops in juvenile crime to curfews."

But those numbers are pretty dramatic. The question for me is, why are you, Bob, so intent on seeing the possibility that the curfews didn't work, rather than the (strong, IMO) possibility that they did have some effect in these dramatic reductions in crime in all three cities?

Of course it's impossible to have a controlled experiment with this a la FDA testing a new drug. Age groups are going to mix with each other. Youth don't associate only with other youth - people near the age boundary are likely to associate with adults as well. The same goes for city boundaries. None of this is hard science and you can always claim the numbers don't really "prove" anything. Did you look up the reductions in crime (if any) in the surrounding cities in order to show that the curfews didn't do anything in the three cities cited? DId all of the surrounding cities have their crime drop by a quarter? Failing *that* evidence, I tend to believe the curfews had an effect.

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 10:14 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Oh, so the youth curfews helped with adult crime too? Or are you saying that because adult crime dropped too, the curfews are inconsequential? Or are you saying that nobody can prove anything?

Another thing your article doesn't address adequately is that there are many different kinds of curfews, some raising more issues of fairness than others.

In Long Beach, for instance, the curfew is not an absolute ban on youth being out from 10pm to 6am. It only bars people under 18 from loitering between 10pm and 6am. If a 17 year old is enroute from point a to point b, they aren't in violation.

Long Beach also enforces anti-youth loitering rules during school hours as a means of fighting truancy.

There are also various levels of escalation and means of enforcement. Once a curfew has been in place for a few months, it's likely that cops will be able to send kids home simply by telling them they can go home or be detained.

It sounds like what New Orleans did was too hardcore, but the Long Beach model seems much more reasonable.

Posted by Max A on 09/22/2011 at 10:11 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"That is Data. Not polling."

But this report does not say whether these cities also experienced drops in adult crime during the same period. Moreover, it doesn't say whether other nearby cities that don't have curfews also experienced drops in juvenile crime at the same time.

Without that data, you can't attribute drops in juvenile crime to curfews.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/22/2011 at 10:00 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

It's hard to tease out which tools "worked" and which didn't as part of a larger strategy. Curfews were part of Bratton's overall strategy in NY. But in any case, he has come out strongly in favor of them and even expanded them to include younger ages. You can google him or read the DallyMail piece or listen to his recent NPR interview.

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 9:55 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Here's the link again: http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/reform/ch2_c.htm…

If you read the DOJ document I linked to closely, you'll see that 3 police departments, Dallas, Long Beach, and New Orleans, reported that they had DATA indicating crime going down after imposing youth curfews.

New Orleans Curfew: "decreasing the incidence of youth crime arrests by 27 percent the year after its adoption."

Long Beach Curfew: "The ordinance led to a 14-percent decrease in the average number of crimes committed per hour in 1994, compared with 1993. Gang-related shootings decreased in that time period as well, down nearly 23 percent."

Dallas: "For example, 3 months after the enactment of the Dallas curfew ordinance, the Dallas Police Department found that juvenile victimization during curfew hours declined by 17.7 percent and juvenile arrests during curfew hours dropped by 14.6 percent, according to the recent OJJDP report."

That is Data. Not polling.

Posted by Max A on 09/22/2011 at 9:53 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"But what about individual cases, then? You cite only the cases where they haven't worked."

Again, I haven't seen evidence of any individual cases in which curfews "worked" in that they lowered juvenile crime in comparison to adult crime or juvenile crime rates in other cities that did not have curfews.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/22/2011 at 9:52 AM

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