The New “Superpredator” Myth by Alex Vitale (New York Times)

“The criminologist John DiIulio sparked panic in 1995 when he predicted there would be an explosion of juvenile superpredators in the coming years, resulting in widespread violence. His baseless theory was wrong; youth crime has fallen dramatically ever since.

Mr. DiIulio has retracted some of his ideas, but the damage is done. The “superpredator myth” ushered in a wave of intensified policing and harsher sentences that fueled mass incarceration.

Something similar is happening today.

The way the police and prosecutors are trying to dismantle youth gangs — haphazardly putting teenager’s names into gang databases, issuing civil injunctions, levying broad conspiracy charges and increasing deportations — is also a misguided panic that is likely to have the same effect.

This kind of law enforcement relies on the same logic that has driven much of the enormous increase in incarceration over the last 40 years. It wrongly assumes that deterrence and incapacitation are the only ways to change the behavior of young people and that any teenager who commits a crime is a hardened sociopath.”

For the entire article, click here: The New “Superpredator” Myth

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