The social contract as coined by Cesare Beccaria, during the criminal justice system reform that he initiated, was meant to be a two-way street where citizens surrendered some individual rights for the benefit of society as a whole and would be protected by the law in return (Alaniz 2018) (lecture notes). Wilson and Alaniz (2018) argue that the criminal justice system does not protect all individuals equally in the collection of research studies presented in the textbook that show how minority communities are often the targets of racial profiling, the victims of mass incarceration, and punitive practices. One of the laws discussed is the controversial crime control act of 1990 signed by George H. W. Bush and had some positive aspects such as gun-free school zones and the victims of child abuse act that provided funding for child advocacy centers (Wilson and Alaniz 2018). This law also contributed to retributive juvenile justice policies and mass incarceration, which only had a minor impact on the crime drop in the 1990s (Lind & Lopez 2015). The law I chose that contributed to the decrease in crime in the last ten years is Comparative Statistics (CompStat), a police management and crime tracking system, which showed a reduction in violent crime by 13% nationwide based on city-level analysis (Roeder et al., 2015).
There are varying answers when trying to pinpoint the crime drop at a national level because each state, city, and police department implements strategies in their own way. However, the research conducted by the Brennan Center, a law and policy institution, shows that CompStat or some form similar to it that it based on data collection and uses the data to initiate better policies and practices to prevent crime has contributed a small but important impact to the crime drop in the last ten years (Roeder et al., 2015). CompStat was first implemented in New York City in the mid-1900’s and overall, research shows that CompStat is effective at reducing crime because the data collected is thoroughly analyzed and understood by the the entire chain of command and police departments are on the same page about how and where to focus their efforts in their fight against crime (Roeder et al., 2015). CompStat is also able to predict patterns in crime trends and therefore helps police departments use effective strategies such as gang robberies in subways in New York City that drastically reduced per year once crime patterns were detected and resources were focused in those areas (Roeder et al., 2015). The study presented analyzed the crime rates of 50 cities in the US before and after CompStat was applied and results showed a 13% reduction in homicide and 11% reduction in property crime nationwide (Roeder et al., 2015). This study also analyzed fourteen other theories to provide a holistic approach and to understand whether or not they had an impact on the crime drop including mass incarceration, the death penalty, and unemployment but only some of these factors were found to have impacted the crime drop such as decreased alcohol consumption (Roeder et al., 2015). The study found that mass incarceration did not impact the crime drop, its impact was minimal in the 1990s and is not effective based on the recent data (Roeder et a., 2015).
It is interesting to dissect the reality of the crime drop because the media and political platforms illustrate an image of an increase in crime. Mostly, I found it difficult to focus on criminal justice policies that have contributed to the crime drop because they also often unfairly violate the rights of the most vulnerable populations such as the poor, lower class, and communities of color as the textbook shows. The study discussed calls for future research to focus on the impact of the number of police officers on crime and more research on police tactics at a national level (Roeder et al., 2015).