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Improbable Transformation of Inner-City Neighborhoods: Crime, Violence, Drugs, and Youth in the 1990s

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Volume: 88 Issue: 4 Dated: Summer 1998 Pages: 1233-1276
Richard Curtis
Date Published
44 pages
This paper focused on two Brooklyn, New York neighborhoods to provide an understanding of how and why inner city life changed in the 1990's and the relationship between drugs, crime, violence and youth development.
This study was based upon 10 years (1987-1997) of ethnographic fieldwork spanning nine different research projects conducted in several Brooklyn neighborhoods. It seemed that when people were ready to write off inner cities as lost a remarkable transformation took place with minimal outside intervention. This study focused on two Brooklyn neighborhoods examining the lives of different groups of young people, gang members, and drug dealers to show the urge to invest explanatory power in structural factors to explain the transformation seen in inner city neighborhoods, especially declining crime rates. The combination of factors precipitating the inner-city change varied from city to city. After being socially, culturally, economically, politically, and physically stripped for more than 30-years, northeast Brooklyn was ripe for rebuilding in the 1990s. The change beginning in 1993 was initiated and carried through by young residents who shared a conviction to change. The ability to sustain the unprecedented changes was uncertain, but the outcome was by no means predetermined. Against many obstacles faced by inner-city residents, their struggle to build a better world can go unrecognized and unrewarded.