HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Retired » Retired Forums » 2016 Postmortem (Forum) » The "superpredator" myth ...

Mon Feb 15, 2016, 04:39 AM

The "superpredator" myth was premised on junk science and inaccurate predictions

Unfortunate language about minority youth using dog training terminology aside, the "superpredator" statement by Hillary turns out to be yet one more example of her embracing a wrong idea and using it to destroy the lives of those she claims to be helping.


In my mind's eye I can still picture him. He was just 14 years old, baby-faced and lanky -- in that awkward, post-growth spurt phase of adolescence when a boy is just beginning to take on the features of a man and is outgrowing clothes as fast as his parents can buy them. I remember his smile -- it could light up the room -- and his deepening voice. I also remember the tear that rolled down his face when the jury convicted him of first-degree murder and the anguish that my colleagues and I felt when a judge sentenced him to 45 years in prison.

It was 20 years ago when I first met Derrick Hardaway in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. He, along with his 16-year-old brother, had just been arrested for their roles in the murder of Robert "Yummy" Sandifer. Yummy, nicknamed for his love of cookies, was only 11, but had been the subject of a massive manhunt in the days before his death. A suspect in the murder of a 14-year-old girl, Yummy had been hidden by fellow members of the Black Disciples gang. When the increased heat from the police started to disrupt the gang's drug business, gang higher-ups ordered that Yummy be killed and dispatched the Hardaway boys to do their dirty work. Derrick's role was to lure Yummy to go into his brother's car with a promise that the gang was taking him out of town. Instead, the boys drove Yummy to a pedestrian tunnel on the South Side of Chicago. While Derrick waited in the car, his brother took Yummy into the tunnel where Yummy was shot and killed.

I was reminded of Derrick and all that has transpired in juvenile justice since our first meeting when I saw the excellent Retro Report short documentary The Superpredator Scare produced by Bonnie Bertram and Scott Michels in association with the New York Times. Derrick's case -- which is featured in the film -- helped to launch the so-called "superpredator" myth.

The "superpredator" myth was premised on junk science and inaccurate predictions based on demographics. According to then-Princeton political science professor John DiIulio, an expected increase in the number of urban teenagers who were "fatherless, Godless, and jobless" would result in a bloodbath of violence on America's city streets. These morally impoverished teenagers were different from teens of the past-- they were amoral, feral beings, stone-cold killers, willing to maim, rape and kill without a moment's thought. They were "superpredators."

2 replies, 1033 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 2 replies Author Time Post
Reply The "superpredator" myth was premised on junk science and inaccurate predictions (Original post)
Fumesucker Feb 2016 OP
Downwinder Feb 2016 #1
Fumesucker Feb 2016 #2

Response to Fumesucker (Original post)

Mon Feb 15, 2016, 09:14 AM

1. Still think that if juveniles can be prosecuted

as adults they should be allowed to vote.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Downwinder (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 15, 2016, 10:02 AM

2. Anyone who can be prosecuted as an adult is an adult

It's really quite simple.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread