rather than with the introduction of crack. This effect is not very likely to have been anticipated in advance.
The third major turning point depicted in Figure 2-1 occurred about 1993, which was the start of the major downturn documented in The Crime Drop in America (Blumstein and Wallman, 2006; see also Zimring, 2006). That book discusses the shrinkage in crack markets that resulted from a major drop in demand for crack by new users and the consequent departure from the crack markets of the young recruits (Johnson, Golub, and Dunlap, 2006). A robust economy could absorb those young people; unemployment rates for African-American teenagers reached 20- to 30-year lows by the mid-1990s (Nasar, 1998; Nasar and Mitchell, 1999). Between 1992 and 2000, unemployment dropped by 30 percent among African Americans without a high school diploma and by over 50 percent among similarly situated Hispanics (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006). Aggressive policing focused on young people with guns probably also contributed to the violent crime drop, although the effects of such programs have been documented for only a few cities (e.g., Kennedy et al., 2001).
Another contributor was the continued drop in violent crime by people over 30, resulting in part from the growing prison population (Blumstein, 2006; Rosenfeld, 2006a). During the 1990s, the median age of state prisoners reached the early 30s, which criminal career research suggests is the age with the longest residual career following a criminal justice intervention. Thus, the departure of young people from the crack markets combined with the continuing decline of violence by the over-30 population were major factors contributing to the steady decline in violent crime from about 1993 until 2000. The role of aggressive policing of young people with guns or of other innovative policing strategies introduced during the decade is less easy to identify strongly (Eck and Maguire, 2006; Rosenfeld, Fornango, and Baumer, 2005).
The year 2000 was not quite a turning point in the sense that it showed a trough in the crime rate, but it was certainly a turning point in converting the steady decline of the 1990s to a very flat trend that continued at least until 2005. It is not surprising that the strong downward trend of the 1990s finally flattened out, but at the time it was not at all clear when that flattening would occur. The fact that the crime drop continued until 2000, resulting in low crime rates that had not been seen since the 1960s, was fortunate but not readily predictable.