Quiet-List 1997

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Re: "Quality of Life" and Violent Crime



Sean,

> From several articles I have read, there seems to be a wide-spread belief
> developing among law enforcement officials in the US that cracking down on
> "quality of life" issues like noise pollution, graffiti and vandalism, have
> a positive impact on the levels of more serious crime, including assualt
> and murder. Apparently, this has something to do with nipping anti-social
> behavior in the bud. (Or perhaps a quieter city is a less violent one?)
> This attitude is usually attributed to New York City officials who have
> credited NYC's dramatic decrease in violent crime over the last few years
> to be a side-effect of the city's tough  enforcement of its new noise
> ordinance and other "quality of life" ordinances.

This seems to be an extremely interesting issue. However, I'm a bit
skeptical as regards to a direct cause-effect relationship between 
quality-of-life-ordinances enforcement and decrease of violence. At least
without a complete account of the situation which can prove that
hypothesis.

I think it isn't the improvement of the quality of life of a small sector
of the population which causes violent crime to decrease, but that of the 
economically less powerful sector, where violent crime usually generates.

Noise pollution, for instance, affects more the rich than the poor,
because the rich expect a quieter environment, while, paradoxically,
they live in zones where the activity is more frantic, there is more
action, more traffic, more noise-generating appliances and noisier
recreational activities.  

The rich sector is, in addition, the one which will most frequently
demand enforcement. The poor usually ignore their rights, especially when
they refer to something as "intangible" as the acoustic confort.

Thus, the rich will be the ones which, in practice, will benefit the
most from average noise ordinances enforcement.

I think the alleged effect (violent crime decrease) would be real if 
a larger sector of the population experienced an improvement of their
quality of life in a global sense, not only in the environmental aspect.
For example, if they improved their economical and social status, their
education, their lodging, their recreational possibilities.

So, I think other reasons should be looked for the decrease of violent
crime in NY.

Best regards.

Federico Miyara

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