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In 1996, a bipartisan group calling itself the Council on Crime in America released a dire report. The headline in The New York Times: “Experts on Crime Warn of a ‘Ticking Time Bomb.’”
The report predicted that over the next decade, a generation of lawless, violent young men would come of age. In the early ’90s, crime in many U.S. cities had already risen to record highs. To avoid an even grimmer future, the report’s authors warned, communities needed to recognize a harsh reality: Some young people are too far gone to save.
“Make no mistake,” the report cautioned. “Recent drops in serious crime are but the lull before the coming crime storm.”
That storm never materialized. Five years later, John DiIulio Jr., one of the report’s primary authors, told an interviewer that he “wished he had never become the 1990s intellectual pillar for putting violent juveniles in prison and condemning them as ‘superpredators.’” By then, it was clear that the lull in violent crime was in fact a significant, lasting drop from its heights in the 1990s.