24
Apr
14

lead and crime

Says a reader of the Wandervogel Diary:

“I heard about this correlation in a podcast about six months ago.  The part of the story that is missing from the Daily Mail article (below) is what the podcast interviewee was talking about.
brain scans“As far as I can remember, his research was doing brain scans of murderers and finding that their scans showed marked differences between their brains and those of a control population.  Then he made the connection that their scans closely resembled those of people with lead poisoning.  His hypothesis was that the peak time for kids to be exposed to lead was playing outdoors in the 1950 and 1960 period, when car ownership was widespread and leaded gas was the only sort. That would overcome the complaint that correlation does not imply causation.
“What a tragedy if the whole ‘feral’ or ‘superpredator kids’ notion was a reaction to a physical cause.  We are suffering the effects of that superpredator notion even now.”

.

lead pollution 4

Has removing lead from paint and petrol reduced crime?

Toxin is linked to surges in theft and violent assault

by Ellie Zolfagharifard, The Daily Mail

April 23, 2014

Poverty, drugs and alcohol may seem like the obvious causes of crime–but some scientists believe we should add lead to the list.

For a number of years, researchers have been stating that the presence of toxic lead in the environment can damage a child’s brain, making them more likely to be violent later in life.

They claim that lead could be a factor in explaining the dramatic surge in crime in England and Wales in the late 80s, which peaked in 1993–and the fall in crime in recent years.

In a BBC radio 4 programme last night, Dominic Casciani revisited the theory by looking at how crime rose from the mid-20th century before peaking in the early 90s and then falling back sharply.

Previous explanations for this change include decline in the use of crack cocaine, the rise of zero-tolerance policing and even the legalisation of abortion.

For a number of years, researchers have been stating that the presence of toxic lead in the environment can damage a child¿s brain making them more likely to be violent later in life. When the amount of lead in the environment increased, this graph shows a corresponding rise in violent crime two decades later.

For a number of years, researchers have been stating that the presence of toxic lead in the environment can damage a child¿s brain making them more likely to be violent later in life. When the amount of lead in the environment increased, this graph shows a corresponding rise in violent crime two decades later.

But in the early 1990s, US economist and housing consultant Rick Nevin calculated the rise and fall of the presence of lead from petrol and he compared that curve to the modern history of violent crime.

When the amount of lead in the environment increased, Mr. Nevin showed a corresponding rise in violent crime two decades later.  When the amount of lead in the environment fell, violent crime reduced about 20 years later.

Tetraethyl lead was used in early model cars to improve performance and reduce wear. Due to concerns over health risks, this type of petrol was slowly phased in the 1970s.

Today, the most common way young children are exposed to lead is though contaminated household dust, ingested via normal hand-to-mouth activity as they crawl.

Heavily-leaded circa-1900 paint can deteriorate by “chalking”, causing lead dust hazards, and lead-contaminated dust from lead paint in older homes.

In Britain, males ages 12-14 in 1958, born as leaded gas use rose after World War II, had higher index crime "caution and conviction" rates than older teens born before that rise in lead exposure.

In Britain, males ages 12-14 in 1958, born as leaded gas use rose after World War II, had higher index crime “caution and conviction” rates than older teens born before that rise in lead exposure.

The leaded share of U.S. paint fell from nearly 100% in 1900 to 35% by the 1930s, but the country didn’t ban lead paint until 1978.

Lead-based paint in the United Kingdom was banned from sale to the general public in 1992, apart from for specialist use.

Lead can be absorbed into bones, teeth and blood and be devastating to the human body, inhibiting oxygen and calcium transport as well as altering nerve transmission in the brain.

Studies in the 1970s revealed that even low concentrations of lead in children can cause permanent damage including reduced IQ, learning disabilities, aggressive behaviour and shortened attention span.

Lead-based paint in the UK was banned from sale to the general public in 1992, apart from for specialist use.

Many cities in the U.S. removed lead from petrol in the mid-1970s and from paint a decade earlier.

At the same time violent crime began to fall in the 1990s and has continued to fall since.

Since then, the data for the lead theorists has become more detailed. Separate studies found a statistical correlation between lead levels and violence in Chicago, Minneapolis, San Diego and other U.S. cities.

Researchers took other causes such as social, economic and legal factors into account, including drug use, poverty, policing effort and incarceration rates.

Mr. Nevin told the MailOnline: “My 2007 study shows the same relationship between lead exposure and both property crime and violent crime trends in the USA, Canada, Britain, France, Finland, Italy, West Germany, Australia, and New Zealand.

“Across all nine nations, the statistical best-fit time-lag for the impact of lead exposure was 18 years for property crime, 23 years for violent crime, and 19 years for overall index crime.

“The time lags are the same within each nation even though the rise and fall of gasoline lead occurred at different times in different nations.”

Professor Howard Mielke, of Tulane University in New Orleans, who has studied the effect of lead on children, said there was a “strong association” between criminal activity and lead in different parts of the city.

He added that police were even using the data on lead to target specific areas of New Orleans where they expected crime to be higher.

This would allow them to focus resources at particular crime hot spots where lead poisoning had been higher in the past.

Dr. Bernard Gesch told the BBC that the data now suggests that lead could account for as much as 90% of the changing crime rate during the 20th Century across all of the world.

But the BBC notes that this only remains a theory because nobody could ever deliberately poison thousands of children to see whether they became criminals later in life.

exhaust

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Sacha Lee  performing “The Music Made Me Do It”

Advertisements

3 Responses to “lead and crime”


  1. 1 Gloria
    April 24, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Interesting point of view. It could be one of the many reasons, and if so it would be indeed a tragedy as your reader say.

    although not related to the post(or maybe yes, since is about crime and sentencing), I wanted to share this comment I found in Paul gingerich’s Facebook page support. Today a supporter of Paul Henry posted this:

    Quoted by Rebecca Mcknight:

    Sentencing alternatives for youthful offenders
    H.E.A. 1108, P.L. 104-2013
    Effective July 1, 2013

    Establishes sentencing alternatives for courts with criminal jurisdiction for: (1) offenders who are less than 18 years of age who have been waived from a juvenile court to a court with criminal jurisdiction and who are charged as adult offenders; and (2) offenders who are less than 18 years of age who do not come under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court because the offenders are charged with certain criminal offenses. Provides that if such an offender is convicted of committing a felony or pleads guilty to committing a felony, a criminal court may: (1) impose an appropriate criminal sentence on the offender; (2) suspend the criminal sentence imposed; (3) order the offender to be placed into the custody of the department of correction to be placed in a juvenile facility of the division of youth services, if the department agrees to the placement; and (4) provide that the successful completion of the placement of the offender in the juvenile facility is a condition of the suspended criminal sentence. Provides that when an offender becomes 18 years of age, the sentencing court must hold a review hearing concerning the offender before the offender becomes 19 years of age. Allows the sentencing court, after the review hearing, to: (1) continue the offender’s placement in a juvenile facility until the objectives of the sentence imposed on the offender have been met, if the sentencing court finds that the objectives of the sentence imposed on the offender have not been met; (2) discharge the offender if the sentencing court finds that the objectives of the sentence imposed on the offender have been met; (3) order execution of all or part of the offender’s suspended criminal sentence in an adult facility of the department of correction; or (4) place the offender in home detention, in a community corrections program, on probation, or in any other appropriate alternative sentencing program. Prohibits a court from modifying the sentences of certain serious offenders following a review hearing if the prosecuting attorney objects.

    I guess this is the new change in Indiana law regarding juveniles tried as adults.

    • 2 Gloria
      April 24, 2014 at 4:19 am

      BTW, I found it a Little bit confusing. becuse at the end this new law says: Prohibits a court from modifying the sentences of certain serious offenders following a review hearing if the prosecuting attorney objects.

      and that is when politics play and this law amounts to nothing.

      • 3 Bob H
        April 24, 2014 at 11:03 am

        I shared Gloria’s concern when this additional condition was added at a late stage of the bill’s passage through the Indiana legislature. I wrote a couple of times in the life of the bill to Wendy McNamara, who sponsored the bill in two sessions, but I suspect she had to take what she could get. What is not clear is whether an objection by the prosecutor is conclusive and forces the hand of the judge to be unable to modify the sentence. The wording in the actual HB1108 is not quite the same as the synopsis quoted above. And in the case of Paul Henry, the agreed case plan will be strongly counter to a later objection by the prosecutor.

        The unhappy triangle (waivers to adult court, mandatory minimum sentences and prosecutorial practice of charging high and securing a guilty plea to a lesser charge) is the greatest threat to justice for juveniles. In some states, enlightenment is present. In other states the opposite is true, such as those where the governor’s reaction to the Supreme Court ruling that mandatory life sentences for juveniles is unconstitutional was to commute the sentences from LWOP to 80 years!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: