Articles from The Atlantic Monthly's archive and related links

"The Texas Clemency Memos" (March 2002)
As the legal counsel to Texas Governor George W. Bush, Alberto R. Gonzales—widely regarded as a likely future Supreme Court nominee—prepared fifty-seven confidential death-penalty memoranda for Bush's review. They suggest that Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise Bush of some of the most salient issues in the cases at hand. By Alan Berlow

"True Confessions" (July/August 2002)
Two simple measures could go a long way toward ensuring that findings of criminal guilt are genuine. By Margaret Talbot

"The Apocalypse of Adolescence" (March 2002)
The murder last year of two Dartmouth College professors offers entry to a disturbing subject—lethal violence by "ordinary" teenagers from "ordinary" communities. By Ron Powers

"Shoot to Kill" (October 2000)
In the post-Columbine world, police departments all over America are adopting new, no-nonsense SWAT-team tactics. By Timothy Harper

"Notes on the Murder of Thirty of My Neighbors" (March 2000)
"Near my house in the 1990s we had drive-by killings, run-by killings, sneak-up killings, gunfights and battles, car chases" the author writes. "We have had so many killings that our own values have been blasted askew." A report from "Our Nation's Neighborhood" on Capitol Hill. By Jim Myers

"The Wrong Man" (November 1999)
The prospect that innocent people will be executed in America is horrifyingly likely, the author argues in this unsparing report on the criminal-justice system. By Alan Berlow

"When They Get Out" (June 1999)
America is putting more people behind bars than ever. Soon we will be releasing more of them than ever. By Sasha Abramsky

"The Prison-Industrial Complex" (December 1998)
Correctional officials see the danger in prison overcrowding. Others see opportunity. The nearly two million Americans behind bars—the majority of them nonviolent offenders—mean jobs for depressed regions and windfalls for profiteers. By Eric Schlosser

"A Grief Like No Other" (September 1997)
Americans are fascinated by murders and murderers but not by the families of the people who are killed—an amazingly numerous group, whose members can turn only to one another for sympathy and understanding. By Eric Schlosser

"More Reefer Madness" (April 1997)
America's harsh marijuana laws harm citizen and society alike, the author contends. Meanwhile, politicians compete to make failed policies more harmful yet. Are there any signs of sanity and common sense? By Eric Schlosser

"Second Thoughts on the Second Amendment" (March 1996)
At the heart of the gun-control debate is a fundamental tension between republicanism and individualism. By Wendy Kaminer

"The Crisis of Public Order" (July 1995)
We have fled our cities. We have permitted the spread of wastelands ruled by merciless killers. We have abandoned millions of our fellow citizens to every kind of danger and degraded assault. And now a demographic surge is about to make everything worse. By Adam Walinsky

"Reefer Madness" (August 1994)
Marijuana has not been de facto legalized, and the war on drugs is not just about cocaine and heroin. In fact, today, when we don't have enough jail cells for murderers, rapists, and other violent criminals, there may be more people in federal and state prisons for marijuana offenses than at any other time in U.S. history. By Eric Schlosser

"Marijuana and the Law" (September 1994)
The vigorous enforcement of marijuana laws has resulted in four million arrests since the early 1980s. Owing to mandatory-minimum sentences, many of those convicted are receiving stiff prison terms, even as violent criminals are released for lack of space. By Eric Schlosser

"Federal Offense" (June 1994)
In this second part of her report on crime our correspondent considers the push for more prisons and more mandatory sentencing—proposals driven by ideology rather than by evidence that either will have much impact on crime. Politicians, the author observes, "profess to believe what they know is not true." By Wendy Kaminer

"Crime and Community" (May 1994)
Congress and the White House have been falling over themselves to be "tough" on crime. Unfortunately, our author finds, the various new crime measures don't stand up to scrutiny. The first of two reports. By Wendy Kaminer

"The Story of a Gun" (January 1993)
The details are painfully familiar: an angry teenager arrives at school one morning and opens fire on teachers and students. But the story holds a grim lesson. It describes, the author writes, a de facto conspiracy of gun dealers, gun manufacturers, and federal regulators "which makes guns all too easy to come by and virtually assures their eventual use in the bedrooms, alleys, and school yards of America." By Erik Larson

"Making Neighborhoods Safe" (February 1989)
Community-oriented policing means changing the daily work of the police to include investigating problems as well as incidents. It means working with the good guys, and not just against the bad guys. This sort of police work is now being practiced in cities all over America. The pattern constitutes the beginnings of the most significant redefinition of police work in the past half century. By James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling

"Thinking About Crime" (September 1983)
Today, it is as if we hope to find in some combination of swift and certain penalties and abundant economic opportunities a substitute for discordant homes, secularized churches, intimidated schools, and an ethos of individual self-expression. We are not likely to succeed. By James Q. Wilson

"The Politics of Crime" (August 1982)
Why have governments not done what they can to reduce violent crime? The answers are complicated, but chief among them is that for every proposal that might be made to reduce crime, there is a powerful, organized interest that opposes it. What's needed is an organized citizen lobby representing the interests—and wielding the political clout—of the middle class. By Richard Neely

"Broken Windows" (March 1982)
At the community level, disorder and crime are usually inextricably linked. Social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. Just as physicians now recognize the importance of fostering health rather than simply treating illness, so the police—and the rest of us—ought to recognize the importance of maintaining, intact, communities without broken windows. By James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling

"The Biggest Pimp of All" (January 1977)
"It is time to take note that there are ways to provide sex for money that are acceptable to prostitutes, law enforcement officials, and the surrounding communities." By Elizabeth and James Vorenberg

"The War on Crime: The First Five Years" (May 1972)
Three years after Nixon and Mitchell vowed to turn the tide with "Operation Intercept" it's their turn to face a fact of life: crime is rising, and law enforcement alone won't stop it. By James Vorenberg

"The Mad Strangler of Boston" (May 1964)
Eleven women have been murdered by strangulation in metropolitan Boston since the summer of 1962, and none of these cases has been solved. By Erle Stanley Gardner

"Mysterious Disappearances" (November 1879)
"Unless the police lines are drawn closer around the inhabitants of our large cities, the number of those who mysteriously disappear from one cause or another will become still more alarming than it is at present." By James Mokeller Bugby

More on this issue from Atlantic Unbound:

Flashback: "Crime and Punishment"

Related Links

U.S. Department of Justice Home Page

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Mennonite Central Committee on Criminal Justice Issues

For more links related to crime issues see Project Vote Smart's Issues Links: Crime

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