Losing Legitimacy

Street Crime And The Decline Of Social Institutions In America


By Gary Lafree

Formats and Prices




Trade Paperback


Trade Paperback $42.00

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 12, 1999. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

In the past fifty years, street crime rates in America have increased eightfold. These increases were historically patterned, were often very rapid, and had a disproportionate impact on African Americans. Much of the crime explosion took place in a space of just ten years beginning in the early 1960s. Common explanations based on biological impulses, psychological drives, or slow-moving social indicators cannot explain the speed or timing of these changes or their disproportionate impact on racial minorities. Using unique data that span half a century, Gary LaFree argues that social institutions are the key to understanding the U.S. crime wave. Crime increased along with growing political distrust, economic stress, and family disintegration. These changes were especially pronounced for racial minorities. American society responded by investing more in criminal justice, education, and welfare institutions. Stabilization of traditional social institutions and the effects of new institutional spending account for the modest crime declines of the 1990s.

On Sale
Nov 12, 1999
Page Count
256 pages
Avalon Publishing

Gary Lafree

About the Author

Gary LaFree is professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland.

Learn more about this author