Natasha Vargas-Cooper at The Baffler:
In the early 1990s a conservative criminologist at Princeton, John J. DiIulio, scanned the horizon and predicted that a new superbreed of hoodlums was coming like a demographic tidal wave. Over a twenty-year span, DiIulio forecast, 270,000 juvenile offenders would roam the nation’s streets, looking to rob, rape, or assault law-abiding citizens. Due to the depravation of the drugs ingested by their mothers, these young men would be too neurologically damaged to feel empathy; growing up, they would be “fatherless, Godless, and jobless.” According to DiIulio, these youths would prove to be superpredatory, “more terrorist than criminal.”
In his 1996 essay, “My Black Crime Problem and Ours,” DiIulio later wrote, “Think how many black children grow up where parents neglect and abuse them, where other adults and teenagers harass and harm them, where drug dealers exploit them. Not surprisingly, in return for the favor, some of these children kill, rape, maim, and steal without remorse.” DiIulio’s prophecy was echoed by other respected criminologists like James Q. Wilson, Alfred Blumstein, and James Fox, who christened the future “a bloodbath.”
The public at large already had an image for packs of feral black teens destined to terrorize civilians: the Central Park Five, a group of mostly black boys from gritty uptown projects who took to the park to swagger, bully, and punk well-to-do locals. When they were (wrongfully) accused of brutally raping and assaulting a female jogger, the images of glowering young black boys saturated nightly news coverage.