Crime and punishment: the right's been fairly right

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by Ricter, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. Ricter


    One for the opposition, though the essay demonstrates that everyone's been wrong in some way. Also contained in here are points about "proceduralism", for jem's sake, and points about the legalization of pot. Most important, though, is the discussion of what demonstrably works, and why.

    "The Caging of America
    Why do we lock up so many people?
    By Adam Gopnik January 30, 2012

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    "Six million people are under correctional supervision in the U.S.—more than were in Stalin’s gulags. Photograph by Steve Liss.

    "A prison is a trap for catching time. Good reporting appears often about the inner life of the American prison, but the catch is that American prison life is mostly undramatic—the reported stories fail to grab us, because, for the most part, nothing happens. One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich is all you need to know about Ivan Denisovich, because the idea that anyone could live for a minute in such circumstances seems impossible; one day in the life of an American prison means much less, because the force of it is that one day typically stretches out for decades. It isn’t the horror of the time at hand but the unimaginable sameness of the time ahead that makes prisons unendurable for their inmates. The inmates on death row in Texas are called men in “timeless time,” because they alone aren’t serving time: they aren’t waiting out five years or a decade or a lifetime. The basic reality of American prisons is not that of the lock and key but that of the lock and clock.

    "That’s why no one who has been inside a prison, if only for a day, can ever forget..."

    Essay continues:
  2. Clearly the war on drugs and how it has been waged plays a huge part in our number one in the world incarceration rates. Interesting article from a cop who speaks on this topic:
    Active duty cop: ‘The war on drugs is a war on people’

    Speaking to Raw Story recently, an active duty police officer who asked not to be named threw down the gauntlet over the part of his job he hates most: the drug war.

    “I did not get in law enforcement to destroy a person’s future because that person had marijuana or a pill in their pocket,” the officer explained. “Why would you want to destroy that person’s future and cause them great harm because of that? It’s not worth it.”

    Like many Americans, the reality of the drug war was was nothing like what he’d been taught to believe in his youth. But statistics like a citizen being arrested for drugs every 19 seconds in 2010, and 1.6 million people incarcerated over drugs in 2009, were nothing compared to what he actually experienced in the front lines of the drug war on America’s users.
  3. Attn Ricter,a major reason many on the left support Ron Paul

  4. Drugs are such a huge part of our economy that why the drug war will continue

    What would happen to agencies like the DEA who would no longer be needed,half the police force could be let go,the income of defense lawyers would fall,prison spending cut by around 70 % etc,
  5. We have never fought a real 'war' on drugs, and it's worse when you think about a couple of things.

    We fight groups that make $billions illegally with agencies supported by Americans who pay taxes to support such agencies. Then we spend more $billions incarcerating other Americans for simple possession and other minor crimes. Who is winning this 'war?' Pretty simple, right?

    Even my most conservative friends have espoused their feelings regarding the legalization of many substances. Pot, maybe cocaine, but pot for sure.

    If individuals want to engage in pot smoking, or drinking themselves into a slumber, well, let them - if they're not driving or hurting anyone. Cut the prison population by a big percentage.

    Victim-less crimes? Not always, but more so than not IMO.

    I wish something would be done. I realize Ron Paul would be the one to do it, too bad he's getting a bit too old to actually make a good run, his support is way up.

  6. I totally agree c. Ron Paul is the only republican with enough guts to speak the truth, namely that the war on drugs is a total failure and indeed hurts us in many ways, not least the loss of civil liberties. Actually, Gary Johnson made the same point, but he was not a serious candidate and is basically unknown outside his home state.

    We are also losing civil liberties in an ostensible effort to fight terrorism, but at least there is a threat there. With drugs, the threat is mainly to the user. What many conservatives seem unable to grasp is that just because you disapprove of something, it doesn't automatically follow that it should be illegal.

    Actually, you'd think conservatives would be in the forefront of efforts to legalize drugs. They are always praising the market and demanding that government get its boot off the people's collective neck. They were also typically defenders of tobacco companies and oppose smoking bans. Why the difference? Is it cultural or just because that is the way it has always been?

    The other big reason to legalize most drugs is cost. We waste an awful lot of money prosecuting and locking up small time dealers and users. Maybe at one time it wasn't such a burden, but the cost of the war on drugs and of locking up all these people is becoming more than we can ever justify for the benefit.
  7. All those prison guards would need jobs. All those prisoners would need jobs. All that government equipment made by our pool of slave laborers would have to be made by companies who would charge our government more. The list goes on.

    The right thing to do would require a certain amount of pain to be borne. The wrong thing to do requires us to continue to ruin people's lives over victim-less crimes. I'll take the former, but absent a man like Ron Paul in office, it will never happen.
  8. Good to see we agree again, AAA.

  9. Ricter


    How to Stop Urban Crime Without Jail Time
    What cities can learn from NYC's safest decade


    "Recently, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the latest crime statistics for New York City, numbers that capped what he called the "safest decade in recorded city history."

    "The dramatic drop in New York's crime rate has become a phenomenon that its citizens take for granted. Between 1990 and 2011, the homicide rate in the city dropped 80%, the robbery rate fell 83% and the burglary rate was down by 86%. Auto theft has been banished to the endangered-species list, with a current rate of about 6% of the 1990 level. Nor is this profound change just the wishful thinking of police statisticians; it has been confirmed by independent measures such as auto-insurance claims and data from other levels of government.

    "The rest of the country also experienced a decline in crime over the 1990s, but New York's was twice as large and has lasted twice as long. So what has the city done differently? Rather than focus on imprisonment, New York has hired more police officers and changed its policing strategy.

    "The results of this experiment contradict four decades of crime-control orthodoxy. Since 1971, the U.S. prison population has grown from just over 200,000 to 1.5 million. When adjusted for population growth, the rate of imprisonment has increased 400%.

    "This dependence on incarceration was linked to the belief that street crime is committed by persistent "high-rate" offenders who will continue to offend if they are not locked up. As the thinking goes, the police cannot prevent much crime because they can't be everywhere at all times. Persistent offenders will always find a place and a time to rob and assault.

    "New York's success against crime over the past two decades has proved the wrongheadedness of the "incapacitation or nothing" strategy. As it turns out, when a police patrol prevents a robbery on 125th Street on Tuesday night, opportunistic robbers don't just find other victims on 140th Street, or try again on Wednesday night. The factors that combine to produce a mugging are situational and contingent, so if you prevent Tuesday's robbery on 125th Street, that's probably one less robbery for the year.

    "From 1990 to 2009, while the rest of the nation increased its rate of incarceration by 65%, New York City decreased its prison and jail rates by 28%. If the city had instead followed the national trend, it would have locked up an additional 58,000 persons at an annual cost of well over $2 billion.

    "But the trick for New York wasn't just hiring more officers. The city also implemented new tactics. As part of its CompStat system, it combined mapping and the analysis of crime statistics to target "hot spots" by concentrating patrol, detective and narcotics units. Hours were shifted so that more officers were working at night, when shootings peaked. Open-air drug markets were shut down, which didn't significantly reduce drug sales but did eliminate 90% of drug-related killings, which usually involve turf conflicts.

    "This strategy should not be confused with the much-discussed "broken windows" approach, which New York has not consistently used. "Broken windows" emphasizes maintaining a visible police presence in marginal areas of crime; it focuses on violations related to public order, like prostitution, public gambling and vandalism.

    "New York City has made arrests for minor crimes part of its successful strategy, but the rationale has been different from "broken windows" thinking. When serious bad guys get nabbed for a minor crime, it provides an opportunity to check for outstanding warrants on them and get them off the streets. In the phrase of Jack Maple, New York's former deputy police commissioner, it's a strategy for catching "the sharks, not the dolphins."

    "Another welcome finding from New York is that the new policing strategy has discouraged repeat offenders. In 1990, among all the prisoners from New York City released from state prison, a full 28% were convicted of another felony within three years. But as the general crime rate went down, so did the crime rate of released offenders. By 2006, their three-year reconviction rate had dropped to 10%.

    "New York's anticrime record has a lot to teach the nation. Over the past 20 years, the city has seen no major changes in the factors so often cited as the "root causes" of crime. Unemployed young men, single-parent families, educational problems, illegal drug use—they all remain. Other cities are now starting to implement policies similar to CompStat, and the preliminary indications are that New York's success is contagious. It's a new chapter for urban life in America."
  10. Thanks for the post Mr. Ricter, very informative.

    #10     Jan 28, 2012