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Michael Cromartie

Kids Who Kill

Body Count: Moral Poverty . . . and How to Win America's War Against Crime and Drugs
By William J. Bennett, John J. Dilulio, and John P. Walters
Simon & Schuster
271 pp.; $24

Though he hasn't yet turned 40, John J. DiIulio, Jr., is one of the nation's leading experts in the field of criminal justice. Professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University, Douglas Dillon Senior Fellow and director of the Brookings Institution's Center for Public Management, and an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, DiIulio carries an impressive list of academic credentials, including a number of scholarly publications. He is also a widely quoted public intellectual whose essays appear regularly in the Weekly Standard, The New Republic, National Review, and other leading journals of opinion.

DiIulio was one of the first to sound the warning about the now widely acknowledged increase in juvenile crime. In particular, he has drawn attention to the young criminals--mostly male--whom he calls "super-predators," characterized by violent impulsiveness and a chilling lack of empathy or remorse. Because he writes and speaks about crime without employing fashionable evasions, DiIulio has been harshly criticized by some of his scholarly peers, but he does not belong in anybody's political pigeonhole. As James Traub observed in a New Yorker profile (Nov. 4, 1996),

Besides being a tenured Ivy League professor, he is a Democrat who has sharply, and publicly, attacked the Contract with America and the new welfare law. He may be the only academic in the country who could say, as he did in a speech earlier this year, "It is no more true that most welfare recipients are lazy, undeserving people than it is true that most prisoners are mere first-time nonviolent criminals."

Lately DiIulio has been working with a coalition of black ministers who believe that churches, given adequate funds, are the best hope--maybe the only hope--for neglected and abused kids in the inner city. Michael ...

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