New York Times Baffled by Rise in Oakland Homicides

Oakland recorded 148 homicides last year, the highest number in over a decade. Why? No one seems to know. And this article by the New York Times, doesn’t shed any light on the topic.

“It’s irrational,” said OPD Officer Roland Holmgren.

“Instead of knowing more, we know less,” said Frank Zimring, a criminologist at UC Berkeley.

“It’s very difficult to determine,” concluded Joel Wallman, a criminologist in New York City.

While painting a grim portrait of the city, the Times did discover some things: victims are getting younger, and the majority of the killings last year were black-on-black crime.

Possible explanations offered include large numbers of parolees returning from prison, increasing gang violence, the availability of guns, a growing methamphetamine trade, and police recruitment shortfalls. Also: poor educational opportunities, high unemployment, and a criminal justice system that reinforces criminal behavior.

One theory: the closure of OPD’s juvenile desk last year resulted in fewer arrests, reduced intervention services, and a generally unengaged attitude toward youth crime. Meanwhile, the Alameda County Probation Department has purposefully sought to reduce the number of kids in its juvenile hall, detaining only the worst offenders. In other words, juvenile offenders aren’t being punished or rehabilitated.


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