superpredator 1

The same reader who put me on to the relationship between lead pollution and crime (and which further discredits the “Superpredator Theory” which led to the harsh laws of the 1990s), sent me links to two New York Times opinion pieces on the theory and its originator, John J. DiIulio Jr., the Princeton political scientist and former head of the Bush White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, who coined the term in 1995.

For anyone whose memory needs refreshing, the Superpredator Theory says that a menacing new breed of children was being born of crack-addled mothers and absent fathers, and programmed solely for murder and mayhem. The theory warned of the coming wave of violence that would flood the country. It never happened.

Yet the theory had legs of its own despite what actually happened: crime fell by more than half.

When the embarrassing truth became apparent, DiIulio publicly disavowed the theory. performed his mea culpas, and distanced himself from it. Henceforth he has devoted himself to some decidedly left-leaning notions like crime prevention, churches over prisons, and opposition to Congress’s welfare overhaul as undercutting America’s most vulnerable families.

This dramatic change of heart is detailed in the first editorial.

Unfortunately, in the world of politics, the discredited theory still lived, and was used to rationalize some of the most hateful, vindictive, and ill-conceived youth justice legislation at the state level throughout the whole country.

“Many states continue to punish juveniles as harshly as they can, even though the Supreme Court has held in a series of landmark rulings since 2005 that young people are ‘constitutionally different’ from adults,” says the second editorial.

And now the rise in crime that sparked this fear and hysteria is being shown to be caused by something as prosaic as lead poisoning!

I encourage you to read both editorials. It won’t take long.

Yet the damage that the theory caused will take decades to undo before yet another “Superpredator Theory” surfaces and is used to yet justify another assault on our freedoms and what we know to be our preference for common decency when it comes to kids.



Groove of the Day

Listen to The Cookies performing “Chains”


4 Responses to “superpredators”

  1. 1 kirstie wise
    May 6, 2014 at 1:09 am

    I know this is not related but I seen a show today on the I’d channel about the king boys.. I googled them and your posts keep coming up. Do you know what ever happened to Alex? Did he get out of jail and get it together?

    • May 6, 2014 at 8:20 am

      Alex has been released from prison for four months now, and he has left the state of Florida. We continue to subsidize his prison-to-freedom transition, but beyond this information, we are creating space to protect his privacy.He is doing well.

  2. 3 Gloria
    May 6, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    maybe this can be seen as a consecuence of the superpredator policy? I found it so disturbing when children so Young are arrested, 😦

    Quoted: Residents in Portland’s New Columbia community are calling for reform of a policy that allowed two officers to take a nine-year-old girl into custody without a juvenile court order last year. The girl — who was wearing a wet bathing suit, flip flops, and a towel — was handcuffed, fingerprinted, and photographed without a trusted adult present.

    9-Year-Old Girl In Bathing Suit Handcuffed, Arrested By Two Officers

    Quoted: The criminalization of children for this sort of minor offense remains a prevalent trend nationwide. In the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, for instance, schools across the country increasingly rely on police for handling disciplinary action.


    • 4 Bob H
      May 10, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      The weakness in the case of the 9-year old taken from her home is due to the localization of justice. With 8,000 police forces in the US, 8,000 organizations have to develop policies, and sometimes they do not envisage situations at the edges of where the policy will apply. This police force had a policy that all people taken into custody were to be handcuffed. They did not have a rider that said it did not have to be applied to youngsters where no threat was perceived. Nor did they have a rider that said external discretion should be applied. In the Seattle area, there is a panel, staffed 24 hours, which has to be consulted if a law enforcement officer plans to take a young kid into custody at all.

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: