Straus Fellow

David M. Friedman Fellow

Academic Year 2010-2011

Frank Zimring

Frank Zimring

Frank Zimring has specialized in the empirical study of the effects of legal rules and of the institutions that turn law into action. He was on the faculty of the University of Chicago from 1967 to 1985 and has been at the University of California at Berkeley since 1985. He directed the Center for Studies in Criminal Justice at Chicago and the Earl Warren Legal Institute at Berkeley. He has written on deterrence, incapacitation, the etiology and control of violence, juvenile justice, the scale of imprisonment, the politics of punishment and the death penalty. His most recent book, with David T. Johnson is The Next Frontier: National Development, Political Change and the Death Penalty in Asia (Oxford 2009). 


Research Project

The City that Became Safe:
New York and the Future of Crime Control

My major project during my year at the Institute will be the completion of a study and a book on New York City’s crime decline over the period since 1990. The study began in 2007 and involves five separate but related topics.

  1. Measuring the magnitude, breadth, length and constancy across different statistical measures of the crime decline;
  2. Sorting out available evidence on what factors may have produced the declines in New York City, on whether the same mix of causes seems important in the 1990s as in the period since 2000, and on whether the same causes seem important in the four very different large boroughs.
  3. Beginning to discuss and measure the effects of sustained periods of lower crime on urban life, on government, on adolescent development and educational attainment, and on relations between the city’s different ethnic and cultural groups.
  4. Assessing the impact of the New York City experience on what is known and believed about crime control in major cities.
  5. Discovering the implications of New York’s experience on theories of crime causation and about the degree to which shifts in crime rates require fundamental changes in urban social and economic structure. I hope to bring a draft of the first three sections of the book to the Institute, and to complete the volume while in residence. James Jacobs has promised me some research assistance from his center during the period of the Institute.  The working title of the book is The City that Became Safe: New York and the Future of Crime Control.