Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Dysgenics of Crime and Why Rehabilitative Justice Doesn’t Make Sense

The most insidious impact of random violent crime (“street crime”) is its dysgenic effect on society. Generally a low IQ, substance abusing, dysfunctional member of society inflicts long-lasting, most often life-changing violence upon a higher functioning, productive member of society.

There is no possible worse outcome for a society that seeks to move forward.

Over 80% of the criminal class (those chronically incarcerated) are functionally illiterate. What is commonly called “street crime” (armed robberies, car-jackings, muggings, etc) is almost always the result of dysfunctional humans seeking a way to garner commodities without benefit of work. These people, like most of the chronically poor are impulsive, reckless, prone to substance abuse and irresponsible.

Crime victims, tend to be those who are productive, if not prosperous – that is, store owners, people who have things like cars, jobs (some money), etc.

The focus on “rehabilitative justice” with adult felons is extremely misguided primarily because as the saying goes, “You can’t get silk out of a sow’s ear,” meaning you can’t replace that productive victim with a “rehabilitated” predator – the requisite skills the predator has are too low to begin with, in most cases.

When a doctor is car-jacked and murdered by a typical thug, society loses greatly. It loses a productive physician, who most likely has an IQ above 130, and we’re left with one or more dysfunctional thugs, more often than not, illiterate, and almost certainly of very limited capacity. That doctor will not be replaced via the rehabilitation of 1,000 such rehabbed thugs.

Just as in the case below, with the murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, America lost two College students, certainly literate, probably intent on leading productive lives and we’re left with five extremely dysfunctional street people, all, no doubt, barely literate and even if they COULD be rehabilitated, they almost certainly lack the basic skills and capacities their two victims possessed.

While random violence or “street crime” inflicts a huge human toll on the individual victims themselves, it inflicts an even larger, more devastating cost upon society at large.


Anonymous said...

Greetings my friend,
First let me thank you for your years of service protecting our neighborhoods as a firefighter. I think its admirable that you want to write commentary on the strife, crime and poverty you surely witnessed first hand all those years. It must have been a terrible burden upon an already stressfull job.
I am writing however, to caution you a bit about your writing. As a social scientist myself, I have had exhaustive classes in analytical methods and statisistics. Drawing conclusions about race based on loose associations is not good science. These assertions would be considered spurious looking at the big picture. Race is not the independent variable--poverty is. Using statistics software packages like SPSS the databases available at the UCR, CJS or FBI at first glance one might say 'low-IQ and race' are disproportionately represented amongst the criminal population but you cannot say this is causal. Applying criminal theory or sociological theory such as social disorganisation, social learning or social strain might help you more accurately interpret the disparities which are clearly present.
There are simply no cut and dry answers to crime. Biological reasoning for causes of crime is dangerously eugenic. You certainly have a wealth of first hand knowledge, but it would be wise to read more about criminology before making some mistakes that might influence the people you are looking to protect to have beliefs that have negative social consequences.

JMK said...


Thank you very much for your very thoughtful comments regarding this matter.

I want to make clear that I believe that (1) “average IQ” is a very flawed measure, not due to any “test bias,” BUT because it is (A) a mere snapshot of a given group at one instance in time, (B) not entirely genetic in origin, most researchers seem to believe that IQ is about 60/40 nature (genetics)/nurture (Environment) and (C) a group statistic that has little relevance to individuals, AND (2) that race itself is a poorly defined construct (for instance, Pakistanis who have dark complexions are classified as Caucasians) and finally (3) that the correlation between violent crime and IQ itself (not ethnicity) IS much more correlative than the one between poverty and violent crime.

Moreover, it’s not merely a black/white/Asian comparison, in fact, one of the cases I used in that article was a black-on-black crime, which was also a dysgenic act. Consider that within those above mentioned ethnic groups, we can see expected differences among them all. Among whites, we’d expect to see more Irish and Italians (I'm part both) represented among violent criminals and we do. We also see fewer Germans of all religious backgrounds and fewer Jews among those violent criminals. Likewise, there tend to be fewer blacks of Carribean descent found among the most violent criminals compared to American born blacks.

That is NOT to excoriate any groups. Within every group there are both productive people and non-productive people (in all groups generally a preponderance of the productive over the non-productive) and there are both geniuses and dolts among all such groups. Beyond that, there are certainly a lot of factors related to the environment one is reared in, that factor into the creation of a violent predator.

But the larger points are not genetic at all, they are that (1) there is a much more direct connection between IQ and violent crime than poverty and violent crime, and perhaps more importantly (2) that random violent crime itself tends to be dysgenic, in that the victim is usually a very productive member of society and the predator, even if rehabilitated, generally of far less value to society in terms of productive capacity.

In fact, that last point is the one I was most concerned about for this article.

If you take a comparison of the violent crimes over any given period, you’ll probably find that the victim was, in general, significantly more productive than the predator.

Take for instance that high profile case a couple years back on Long Island where an investment banker, named Ted Ammon, worth close to $100 million was murdered by a handyman (Danny Pelosi) who then married Ammon’s widow. In that case Ted Ammon’s investment acumen was lost for all time, while Danny Pelosi and Ammon’s attractive but non-working, stay-at-home wife (who subsequently died from cancer) are not and most likely never will/would approach anything close to Ted Ammon’s productivity and intrinsic value to society.

THAT illustrates the real cost of violent crime, better than anything else.

It’s not about race or ethnicity and it’s not about poverty, but it is about the unproductive (the reckless and irresponsible) among us, harming all of society by disproportionately victimizing the more productive among us.

I just want to be clear, I’m not seeking to dredge up old arguments about race and IQ. I think that measure is (1) a mere snapshot in time and (2) of little use in comparing individuals to each other. It is just that there seems to be a greater correlation between IQ, across all ethnic lines, and violent crime than between either poverty and violent crime, or race and violent crime.

Perhaps worst of all, is the fact that this kind of crime victimizes society in ways most of us have been programmed to ignore – the victim is almost always far more productive and the predator or perpetrator almost always significantly more limited.

I am merely pointing out that that kind of loss is simply unsustainable over time.

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