Forty years after the civil rights movement, impunity for the murder of black men remained America’s great, though mostly invisible, race problem. The institutions of criminal justice, so remorseless in other ways in an era of get-tough sentencing and “preventive” policing, remained feeble when it came to answering for the lives of black murder victims.’
Few experts examined what was evident every day of John Skaggs’s working life: that the state’s inability to catch and punish even a bare majority of murderers in black enclaves such as Watts was itself a root cause of the violence, and that this was a terrible problem—perhaps the most terrible thing in contemporary American life. The system’s failure to catch killers effectively made black lives cheap.
Homicide is the leading cause of death for black males under the age of 44. As Friedersdorf continues:
The absence of policing yields not a safe space where marginalized people thrive, but a nasty, brutish place where violent actors either push people around with impunity or are met with violence by someone who forces them to stop. “When people are stripped of legal protection and placed in desperate straits, they are more, not less, likely to turn on each other,” Leovy wrote. “Lawless settings are terrifying; if people can do whatever they want to each other, there are always enough bullies to make it ugly.”
Moreover, although crime has declined until recently, that beneficial trend may have masked that police may be becoming less productive over time. Nationally a majority of homicides are cleared but the long term tend is down. Moreover, an increasing number of police agencies fail to clear a majority of homicides. In Chicago, for example, less than half of homicides are cleared–that screams too few police not too many. Solve all murders!
We are underpoliced in the United States especially in high-crime areas. We need better policing so that we can all be comfortable with more policing.