The Case of the Missing Criminals

When I moved to Los Angeles back in the early 1990s, it was one of the most dangerous cities in the United States.  One year, there were more than 1,000 homicides (murders) in the city of Los Angeles itself.  Even worse for me, when I first moved here I was living in one of the most dangerous parts of town (Echo Park) and going to a school (the University of Southern California) in a mostly unsafe neighborhood (South Central Los Angeles).  But in the almost 20 years since I’ve lived in Southern California, violent crime, such as murder, rape (sexual assault), and burglary (theft) have all decreased dramatically.  In fact, 2009 was one of the safest years in the city of Los Angeles in the past 50 years.  Last year, there were a little more than 300 homicides, the lowest number of killings since 1967.  This drop (decrease) in violent crime is not unique to Los Angeles, however.  Almost every major city in the United States, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Dallas, has seen a significant decrease in the number of violent crimes in the past 20 years.  The big question is: What happened?

We may not be sure of what’s right (correct), but we definitely know what’s wrong, including the popular idea that increasing poverty causes an increase in crime.  Last year was one of the worst years in the U.S. economy in several decades (decade equals 10 years), yet violent crime continued to drop.

There are at least three possible explanations why America is much safer now than it was 20 years ago, and all three might have contributed (had an influence, had an impact) to lower crime rates:

  • Fewer young peopleStatistically (numerically), most violent crime is committed by adolescent and young adult males.  As the population gets older, there are fewer and fewer young people to commit (to do) crimes.  As one researcher noted in an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “The largest and fastest-growing segment (part) of the population is people over 50.  People over 50 also happen to be the age group that is least likely to commit crimes.”  The more old people there are, the safer the world is.  (I guess that means that I am a “young” person, since I am not yet 50.  But that also means that I am more likely to commit crimes, so be careful!)
  • More prisons.  The United States incarcerates (puts in jail or prison) more than seven million people, which is about the size of the population of the country of Jordan.  One out of every 31 adults in the US is behind bars (in prison).  Some people argue that putting more violent criminals in prison will logically lead to fewer crimes.
  • Better policing.  Police forces in major American cities have changed their tactics (approaches, ways of doing things) in the past 20 years, including what is called data-driven policing.  Data is just another word for information, facts, or statistics.  Something that is data-driven is something that is influenced or controlled by the information collected, rather than by some theory.  The idea is that the police use computers to analyze, for example, where the most dangerous parts of town are and send more police to those areas.  Police also make sure that petty (less serious) criminals (people who commit crimes) are punished more frequently, ensuring (making sure) that small crimes don’t lead to big ones.

It may be, of course, that there are other reasons to explain this decrease in crime in the U.S.  Whatever the reason, it should be good news for those who want to visit the United States but are worried about their safety.  So come to Los Angeles, and I promise that you (probably) won’t be killed!


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28 Responses to The Case of the Missing Criminals

  1. emiliano says:

    Too much to think about this matter, Jeff, but the three possible explanations are good if they have a good result, as it seems.

    I like the last, “better policing” and the way of making sure that petty criminals are punished more frequently, ensuring that not other big crimes would be done in future by the same people.

    It´s just the contrary of what is happening here, in my country, often the police caught a thief with more than a hundred of previous petty crimes and he/her has been caught for the police once and again, but the crimes haven´t punished or are just archived by the law.
    Police are fed up with these kind of things, the same that the majority of us, true legal people, but what can we do?
    Only protest?.

    We say here, thieves come into the jail by a door and go out inmediately by the other door, without any kind of punishement what is really amazing and very disappointed.

    Los Angeles seems to me alway a very dangerous city, may be by the movies, now I can see that we can go whichever time we like to go.
    It shoul be a pleasure to go to ESL Office and say Hi Jeff, Hi Lucy, Hi everyone here I am emiliano and it is incredible to be
    with all of you at last.
    Just another dream.

  2. roberto says:

    Hello everybody!

    As forever, I have learnt with Jeff something about U.S. that I didn´t know.
    The decrease in the number of homicides in Los Angeles is amazing: 700 persons die less in 2009 than in nineties.
    U.S. Police makes his work very well in his fight against criminals but in airports… Like you could see, I have tried to make a joke

    Happy two thousand and ten, two thousand ten or twenty ten!

  3. emiliano says:

    Just a point Jeff, a very important one…….It has to cost millions of dollars to have so many people in prisions, who pay for that?.
    Do they work?.
    Does every State pay the cost of having them behind bars?.

    I would like to know about it, as I have seen some movies where I could see the the people behind bars working very hard, or doing another kind of works outside and inside the prisions?

    That´s true? or it doesn´t?

    Here the State pays everything, (in fact us) and people behind bars may or not work, as they like.
    Some of them are better inside despite lack of freedoom that outside, as inside have everything they haven´t outside.
    But as prisions are so much expensive to the Goverment, and having a person inside cost a lot of money it may be a reason why so many penny crimes aren´t punished accordingly.

    Sure you have told us something about this matter, but my lack of memory is just a problem to me very often.

  4. dongsung says:

    I’m surprised by the fact that one in 31 adults are behind bar. that mean pretty much of number of crime still commited in the State.
    even though severe crimes have decreased, but it’s may not still safe place.
    but it is good news for every one who afraid of visti U.S for serious crime. watching America TV drama, I’ll have desire to travel L.A.
    I wish that crime rate have dropped more when I vistit there.

  5. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff,

    Still haven’t got time to study the material above.I usually allocate one hour to go throught you and Lucy posting. On this comment I want to thank you and Lucy for the episod 544 .I literally learned something new in every line,in every sentence,very functional and practical.

    I keep thanking you for your perfect job because I personaly think being appriciatibe and giving your impecceble work the recognition it desrves is the least I can do for all the generosity you extend toward us.

    A word of rocognition is nothing compare to what you did with my life.You turned around my life

    When I came across eslpod my life took a turn and I Play into it.
    Not to mention that the smell piece blew my mind; knowing these slight differences between English words with similar concept make a huge difference.

    You Guys are my God and Godess:)

  6. Peter says:

    My took a turn and luckily I played in to it,

    As I said before,Lucy ,you are amazing!

    Taking some expresions and terms randomly From here and there and turning them ,or shaping them up into a blow-minding transcript is beyond ,and you do three times per week so beautiful and smmotg that you convey this feeling that you do it as easy as getting a candy from a baby.
    Take my advice and write a book ,then you will see they go like hot cacke!

    Not fan of any celebrity ,but a big fan of yours Peter,

  7. Poor Rich Brazil says:

    Here, one in each five brazilian work to government; government machine is very expensive for all population who don’t work to government, crime increase is astronomic and with no precedents, never had seen before. Here, there is a crime with thief armed and other where the thief does use beatiful suits, the last are the great part of politicians. But, who pays the bill?
    Lack good education and good police practises, public workers too much, expensive taxes, most expensive gasoline around world and the worse, terrible roads, dangerous cities, increasing crime and criminals and so forth.
    Bad politicians who spend our money with false propaganda.
    Come to Rio and get a lost bullet, the lost bullet looking for you, it wait for you, it seem bees flying.
    Poor rich Brazil.

  8. Tania says:

    Hi ! I hate to talk about homicide , rape , burglary or jail . It hurts just only to talk . They give me the creeps .

  9. rodrigo says:

    Very interesting, the venezuelan goverment should study such methods to reduce criminality here, just in Caracas the death toll for murders was over 620 only in december, and the insecurity is one of the biggest problems we are facing now which is affecting our life style, e.g. the streets of the main cities are empty at night, we live in an unofficial curfew, main crimes are murders, kidnapping, burglary and car thieves….


  10. Poor Rich Brazil says:

    The more the Brazil economy increase for itself, the more current politicians uses for itself and does false propaganda, Brazil climbs by itself, not through politicians. The public politic is horrible, especially in education and safety, if continues so we let’s hit on the bottom again.

  11. Peter says:

    Guys,it is very funny.

    If you look closely we somehow consider Jeff and Lucy as our AGONY AUNTS ( the person in a news papers , magazines ,and whatnot whom we talk and consult them on our personal affairs ).and this page acts like a mediate to reach them.

  12. emiliano says:

    Dear Peter, Lucy has books already, here is one you may find in Amazon.

    “Why Don’t They Learn English: Separating Fact from Fallacy in the U.S. Language Debate (Language and Literacy Series (Teachers College Pr)) by Lucy Tse”

    Also Jeff has his books, this is one in Amazon too.

    “The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions by Jeff McQuillan”

    Sure, these books are an exellent way of improving our knowledge.
    Sorry Lucy, sorry Jeff, but I know you were not willing to tell us about your books, or work, modest persons as you are, that´s for sure.
    But I have seen them already and Peter asked about it, and I only inform him and the other thousands guys about them.

  13. Peter says:

    My dear blogmates,

    I just finished studying the learning guide for the episod 544. On the learning guide Jeff and Lucy discuss the term “double up.”

    double up,as Jeff and Lucy vividly explain on the learning guid, means sharing something with somebody else espacially a room.

    For example: the Hotle room was too expensive for our budget so we double up and checked in just one room.That way we saved some Money .
    Of cousre, I explained the term using my words that is why it seems lousy.

    The reason I shared the term with you is for frequent usage of the term.i heard the term a lot!!

  14. Peter says:

    Thanks bro,

    I will go check!

  15. Peter says:

    I checked,

    they do wrote books.

    Jeff and Lucy,

    Modesty is a becomming quality! You guys own the quality!
    Writing great acclaims and no bragging about it.who are you people?
    The minute I learn something new out of Eslpod , I almost kill my friends with that.needless to say,it is and everyday occurence.
    You guys write a book with no claim for recognition.I m positive that you are desended back to a holy figure.:)
    or you once drank with a prophet or something:)

    my dear profes your humour in a way ( somehow )rubed off on me,didn’t it
    in all seriousness ,you guys are something and Esclpod is beyond

    seriously ,you guys are good people

    You should have told us that you are the writer of big acclaim.
    However,it doe

  16. Peter says:

    Very well-put and well-written article you got there,Jeff

    thanks for the input.

    Thanks for the insight ,grammar wise.

    You naile it

  17. Tania says:

    Hi ! The King of Rock’n Roll … Elvis Presley .
    Elvis fans marked 75th birthday at his beginning . On Friday , Elvis’75th birthday , people commemorated the event with his former Priscilla Presley at
    Elvis Birthplace in Tupelo , Memphis .
    Nice music …


  18. Tania says:

    Hi ! Thank you Emiliano for your good news about our teachers . I have seen their works on Amazon , too .
    No doubt , we have the best teachers .


  19. Tania says:

    Hi ! We are worried for both of you Dr. Lucy and Dr. Jeff reading about the powerful earthquake (6.5 magnitude) that hit near the Northern California
    coast . And with more than a dozen aftershocks for several hours after the initial quake … It is dreadful.
    There is a seismically active region and in my country .
    We are very frightened of a next awful earthquake .
    I am very sorry .


  20. emiliano says:

    Yes Tania, I think so too, they are the best teachers we can imagine and I like to share the information with all the Blogers friends, as it is sure that Jeff or Lucy were not willing to do it.
    Great persons are modest always, and without any doubt our teachers are great in many ways.

    Now the snow is falling in Madrid, it´s amazing as it is the fourth day that happened…….but it´s so cold.

    Tania, still I´m waiting for you, may you know why for?, some clues please about a poet who writes here?

  21. Semen (Moscow - Russia) says:

    It’s nice to hear that in LA murder happens even not once a day (300 in a year). Good luck..

    I’m listenning your podcasts for a few months.. I’ve listened about 100-200 old once already.. They are very cool!
    Mr Jeff, in this text “poverty” is strange word. And “right (correct)” is very easy one I think)

  22. Linn says:

    Just found this web site and it´s amaazing! Thank you Lucy and Jeff! /Sweden

  23. Peter says:

    I found it very odd and unusual that I still sometimes feel the need to have a language partner.But,the problem is that not all the languges out there are interesting enough for other people. cross-conversation really facilitate learning a new languge,though.

    If my mother tongue was French I could fina a partner language easily.

    Just got off my chest.

  24. Peter says:

    A tierring day ended just know ,and tomorrow,another wild goose chase is in order.

    Indeed,pleasure known to the few

  25. Tania says:

    Hi ! I am glad you did not forget me , Emiliano . Thank you very much for your kind words . But maybe some day …
    I wish you and your nice family all the best and much health in this New Year .
    Are you frightened of snow ? It is the best thing which can happen in winter . It is cold for us but very warm for the earth .
    Did you see the ice castles on TV in China ?

    All the best for you all ,


  26. Tania says:

    Hi ! Dear Semen , maybe you can tell us how a real winter is like . We would like to receive news from the heart of Russia at minus 20 degrees .
    Please , don’t forget us !


  27. emiliano says:

    No, of course, I like the snow so much that I usually go out to see the city so changed and take some photos that always are incredible.
    It´s so odd to see such a big city like Madrid all covered by the snow that it makes the people happier despite so many trafic difficulties.

    And what about the people that have came from South America?. Many of them never have seen the snow and yesteday a lot of them from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia or Brasil, were in Retiro Park at 12 a.m. watching the park and seen the snow falling despite the to much cold. And the children of these countries? or from our?. They are really happy.

    The family is quite good, thank you Tania.
    Cuca is a bit better now and the girls are right at their own way.
    Did I tell you that the younger Laura went to Islandia this last summer?. She is so valiant that she went alone for 25 days, walk and walk all the lands overthere and took amazing photos, you may see some of them at Flickr as “laurha”, I told her that she can get a job in National Geography if she is without any in future.
    Islandia is an incredible country, beautiful as anybody can´t imagine, but in summer of course……winter another hard story,
    I imagine.
    I am also in Flickr as Emi472, by my photos aren´t good by all means.
    Flickr is a very good site to see photos from everywhere of the world and you may put yours and get the opinions
    of the people who are inside the site, and in English what is more important.

    Yes, Tania, I keep on waiting for your clues all the time.

  28. Tania says:

    Hi ! Thank you , Emiliano . I’ll keep in my mind .


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