Americans treat crime as a public scourge. And we attack it via public systems—our prisons, probation departments, and school and youth programs—to intervene before people go wrong. But what if crime isn’t just a public problem, but also an intensely private issue tied to families? Just five percent of American families account for half of all crimes, and 10 percent of families account for two-thirds. And new research suggests crime is a family tradition passed on through multiple generations, even to great-grandchildren. Why does crime run in families? How can we help, treat, or punish families to break their cycles of crime? And what should this reality of crime mean for efforts to reform incarceration and law enforcement in the United States, home to one-quarter of the world’s prison population? Former New York Times national correspondent Fox Butterfield, author of In My Father’s House: A New View of How Crime Runs in the Family, sits down with Warren Olney at Zócalo to explain how crime really works and to explore the best ways to fight it.
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