Over the years I've written a number of posts about the Crime Wave of the Late 20th Century, its causes, political repercussions and the long shadow it still casts over our society. What drove the rise of crime starting in the mid-1960s and its precipitous fall from the early-mid-1990s is no mere matter of historical interest. Today we talk a lot about mass incarceration, the militarization of policing and various other excesses of policing and corrections. But our ability to do so, to have any political shot at change is heavily, heavily tied to the drop of crime over the last 25 years. If crime shoots back up again, we're back to the political environment of the 70s and 80s that created mass incarceration and all the rest. But we can't have any confidence that it won't shoot up again if we don't have a clear idea why it dropped in the first place or, for that matter, why it started spiking thirty years earlier.
In the last few years I've been increasingly convinced that environmental lead poisoning played at least a significant role in the story. Now there's new evidence strengthening the 'lead as driver of crime' thesis.
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