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by Peter Moskos

August 14, 2010

Ghetto Mortality

In the course of writing Cop in the Hood, I researched what I thought was the bombshell statistic that, conservatively estimated, more than 10 percent of the men in the Eastern District are murdered between the ages of 15 and 35 (pp. 219-220).

That bomb sure was a dud.

Maybe everybody already knew. I like to think that. Because the alternative is that nobody cares. It's a sad thought that such a rich and powerful nation doesn't mind that so many, thanks mostly to the bad luck of being born in a shitty place and/or to a shitty family, are more likely to be shot and killed than are soldiers at war.

Do those murdered make some bad choices and do some bad things. Of course. But only in the ghetto does a bad choice or two lead so certainly to destruction and death. And only in the ghetto, even if you make good choices, do you so routinely get nothing for your efforts but a beat down.

Anyway, I was thinking about this again because the New York Times has a bittersweet feel-good story about a cop running a boxing program in St. Louis. One of the kids seems to be making it.

But overall the odds are horrible.
Of the 30 children from the 1995 team, Cunningham, now 45, believes that nine may be dead (at least six are confirmed), with the rest roughly divided among prison, the Bloods and the Crips.
One-third dead. One-third in prison. Most of the rest in gangs. Clearly, if I might restate the obvious, something isn't working.


Spark Check said...

It's hard to feel compassion for those who go out and prey on others.

PCM said...

You're right. It is hard. I don't recall ever shedding a tear for anybody when I was a cop (except other cops).

By the time they're killed, it's pretty easy to say (and sometimes it's even true) that the world is better off without them.

But that's not my point here. My point is that at some point these bad men were born cute babies. Cute innocent baby boys. It's not their fault yet, right?

But then it all goes wrong. And it goes wrong is ways that are so entirely predicable. And because it's so predicable it's probably preventable. If only we really cared.

But deep down I don't think we do.

And since we don't, then they do bad things and then they're bad people and then they get killed. And then we say good riddance.

Somehow, deep down, I think we all know that isn't right.

Anonymous said...

It's much easier to blame them.

Anonymous said...

some people are bad and don't know it.We see alot of things and some things we dont. The ones that throw a rock and hide their hands are worst