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Is Government to Blame for Rise in Black-on-Black Murder?

Government to blame for the rise in black-on-black murder rates? A news report by Eric Eckholm stresses the possibility: "A report blames cuts in community policing and social programs."

Eric Eckholm filed "Murders by Black Teenagers Rise This Decade, Bucking a Trend" for Monday's edition. What's to blame? A lack of social programs, of course.


The murder rate among black teenagers has climbed since 2000 even as murders by young whites have scarcely grown or declined in some places, according to a new report.


The celebrated reduction in murder rates nationally has concealed a "worrisome divergence," said James Alan Fox, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University who wrote the report, to be released Monday, with Marc L. Swatt. And there are signs, they said, that the racial gap will grow without countermeasures like restoring police officers in the streets and creating social programs for poor youths....The report primarily blames cutbacks in federal support for community policing and juvenile crime prevention, reduced support for after-school and other social programs, and a weakening of gun laws. Cuts in these areas have been felt most deeply in poor, black urban areas, helping to explain the growing racial disparity in violent crime, Dr. Fox said.


The text box cut to the point: "A report blames cuts in community policing and social programs."


Eckholm, a political appointee under Democratic President Jimmy Carter, didn't see a liberal thrust in the researchers' point of view, yet spotted a "conservative" ideological angle from their opponents:


But Bruce Western, a sociologist at Harvard, cautioned that the change in murder rates was not large and did not yet show a clear trend. Dr. Western also said that the impact of the reduction in government spending on crime control would have to be studied on a city-by-city basis, and that many other changes, including a sagging economy, could have affected murder rates.


Conservative criminologists place greater emphasis on the breakdown of black families, rather than cuts in government programs, in explaining the travails of black youths.


It's not the first time Eckholm has pointed toward a lack of federal spending as a cause of minority deaths. From an April 2007 Eckholm story about infant deaths in the South:



For decades, Mississippi and neighboring states with large black populations and expanses of enduring poverty made steady progress in reducing infant death. But, in what health experts call an ominous portent, progress has stalled and in recent years the death rate has risen in Mississippi and several other states....The setbacks have raised questions about the impact of cuts in welfare and Medicaid and of poor access to doctors, and, many doctors say, the growing epidemics of obesity, diabetes and hypertension among potential mothers, some of whom tip the scales here at 300 to 400 pounds.