Back in August we noted the research of Thomas Abt, senior research fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, which indicated that rising crime rates around the country were likely the result of what other political commentators have dubbed “the Ferguson Effect.” Writing for The Marshall Project, Abt discussed a “phenomenon called legal cynicism” in which he argues that communities tend to become increasingly violent when the police and criminal justice system is viewed as “illegitimate” effectively eroding the implicit authority of cops to enforce the law.
It is unclear what is driving the problem, but my own hunch – and it is still just a hunch at this point -involves a criminological phenomenon called legal cynicism. Multiple studies have demonstrated that, controlling for other factors, when communities view the police and criminal justice system as illegitimate, they become more violent. When people believe the system is unwilling or unable to help them, they are more likely to take the law into their own hands, creating the cycles of violent retribution that were chronicled so vividly last year in Jill Leovy’s Ghettoside.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 8, 2016.