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Are Republicans the New Heroes on Prison Reform?

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Republican politicians across the country are agitating for prison reform, according to a piece in the WSJ. Faced with overcrowded prisons, pressure from Evangelical Christians, and data pointing to the vicious crime cycles prisons encourage, GOP leaders are taking up reforms aimed at reducing the length of sentences and promoting rehabilitation:

Just over half of the states have embarked on criminal-justice overhauls of varying scope over the past five years, with 19 of those efforts led by Republican governors or GOP legislatures and nine by Democratic governors or legislatures. Some of the most aggressive moves have come in states, many in the South, with incarceration rates well above the national average. […]

The initiatives have drawn praise from groups that aren’t often allied with the GOP, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union. The result is some unlikely bedfellows, with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council working alongside the ACLU.

The American prison system as it has operated in recent decades is a serious and ugly unresolved problem that by some measures is becoming untenable. According to famed legal scholar Bill Stuntz, we’re perhaps the most penal country in history, imprisoning a larger percentage of our population even than the Soviet Union under Stalin. Our system is expensive, discriminatory, often cruel, and profoundly socially disruptive. Though the rate of incarceration of blacks has declined recently, it is still disproportionate to the size of the overall black population, and because of this and the poor employment prospects for convicted felons, black communities have been decimated.

If this reform push by the GOP is serious, it’s good news for two reasons. First, it will generate significant momentum towards reducing the iniquities of our current system. The policies that are being pursued by different states are too various to take a position on as a whole: some are likely sensible, others not. In general, we prefer reforms that focus on less draconian sentences for drug use and policies that seek to penalize lawbreakers without necessarily sticking them in prison.

Second, it’s a sign that the GOP is still evolving in productive ways. After the last election, many triumphant Democrats suggested that the Republican Party was in utter shambles and might never fix itself. More and more, it seems these assessments were premature. In areas from health care to prison reform, the Right has clearly been doing some soul searching. By doing so it will not only strengthen its electoral prospects but our country as well. America relies on strong, competitive national parties animated by inspiring ideas.

[Image of Prison Bars Courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Soren Kay

    “Our system is expensive, discriminatory, often cruel, and profoundly socially disruptive. ”

    This is such whiny nonsense… along with the idea that blacks are punished too hard in schools… the broken windows of society need to be put in a cage.

    The reason we put so many people in jail today is because the liberal prison reforms of the late 50s through the early 70s failed.

    • Tom

      Yeah…no. This is a whole ‘nother thing than that. For instance, why do crack and powder cocaine have such different sentences for possession, with crack carrying the higher sentence?
      Because powder was more expensive and used by rich people.

      • Corlyss

        That’s the silly “disparate impacts” argument, as fraudulent and bogus and unrealistic as ever a sociological argument was. The courts should never have allowed that nonsense to gain any credence. Now it pollutes social and legal policy across the board.

      • Eric Brown

        No, it was because Black Democrats demanded that Reagan *Do Something* about crack cocaine back in the 80s.

    • Corlyss

      Agree. Our system is discriminatory only in so far as it puts the perps behind bars rather than the society the race-pimp sociologists want to blame for everything. The only sympathy I have for people behind bars is those non-violent criminals caught up in 3 strikes when the law was improperly written, failing to discriminate between violent and non-violent felons. Repeat violent felons should be locked up where the sun don’t shine forever.

      • bpuharic

        Circular logic. We lock up blacks disproportionately and to white conservatives that’s proof blacks are criminals? Who can argue with that ironclad logic. Of course the TBTF banking vandals escape with govt paychecks because the right opposes banking reform that would criminalize many actions of the 1%. After all, if you’re rich you aren’t a criminal

        • tomdperk

          Yes, your logic is circular, null and void. Blacks being convicted of types crimes to a greater degree then whites does not mean there is racism, it means blacks are more likely to commit those crimes.

          As a check on that postulate, I recommend that when you are in private and none can see your tears, in this America where none can be turned away from an ER–unless you are willing to postulate and demonstrate that whites to a statistically significant degree do not seek treatment for injuries–persons of what race are more often admitted to ERs for injuries resulting from assault? Then take into account the race of the aggressor in the reported incidents.

          Don’t worry, I’m sure we can’t hear your weeping from wherever the rock you are under is.

          The upside to anyone of your ilk being smart enough to type on the internet, is how obviously vile and silly you are.

    • bpuharic

      Garbage from talk radio ideology. It was the ‘tough on crime’ theology that conservatives pushed that got our huge prison population. Even Pat Buchanan admitted it failed. America, with its Jacksonian populist right wing social policy, was always big on punishment…that’s why everyone on welfare is a cheat, and 47% of the population are ‘moochers’ while the vandals who destroyed Wall Street are ‘makers’.

      Tough on crime is not a liberal talking point. Conservatives own this failure, as they do so many others with their simplistic view of social policies

      • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

        Funny, before Guiliani got tough on crime in NYC, Times Square was a place to be avoided … now it is a place to enjoy.

        Perhaps, to cite just one area, we should quit treating recreational drug use as a joke, and put some societal pressure against it in order to discourage it before it does go criminal. The recreational pursuit of altered perceptions is an impairment to a free society that depends upon the maintenance of citizen self-control, in multiple ways.

        • bpuharic

          The same argument was made by liberals during prohibition. It was a failure then.

          It’s a failure now

          • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

            There was a difference with Prohibition … alcohol can be enjoyed without altering one’s perceptions, making a ban on it rather problematic.

          • bpuharic

            I disagree. That’s why there are blood alcohol limits which are very low. MJ probably alters one’s perceptions less than ethanol does

          • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

            Very low – not zero, so my argument stands.

            The difference is that MJ has only one non-prescription use – to alter perceptions, which works against civil society.

          • bpuharic

            As does alcohol. And it doesn’t work against civil society at all any more than masturbation, or other private activities. In fact you’d be hard pressed to tell who is or isn’t a cannabis user.

          • teapartydoc

            “You’d be hard-pressed to tell who is a cannabis user.”–Not me. Almost every young man who walks in to my office complaining of ED uses pot.

          • bpuharic

            Which, of course, never happens with chronic alcohol users

          • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

            No, alcohol can be used as a beverage without significant altering of one’s perceptions. BTW, I don’t drink it myself … hate the taste, and the carbs.

            Altering one’s perceptions IS compromising one’s self-control … especially when dependence and addiction follow, well after the buzz is gone, and the drug starts “talking” to you in a voice you can’t ignore.

          • bpuharic

            Although I’m not a cannabis user, you’re overestimating its effects and underestimating ethanol’s

            Ethanol is a poison.

            And altering one’s perceptions in private is done by by alcohol and cannabis.

            No one know what voice you’re talking about since cannabis users aren’t violent.

      • ajpwriter

        The Tough on Crime laws were a response to their times. They were succesful at the ballot box because the left had no meaningful response to offer, save a lot of handwringing.

        And crime rates have declined from their early 90’s peak, so describing the laws as a failure strikes me as – wait for it – simplistic. Reassessing certain policies – the drug war especially – is welcome. But to pretend that violent crime is going to be combatted without putting more people in jail is a non-starter.

        • bpuharic

          Nonsense, of course.The ‘left’ was offering decriminilization of marijuana use, shorter sentences for non violent crimes, etc. The right had one, and only one response: be tough on crime. THe right bankrupted the criminal justice system while failing to stem violence.

          Crime has been falling across the world so it’s NOT conservative policies that caused it.

          How many people do we put in jail before conservatives recognize it doesn’t work?

          • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

            How many more drug-addled welfare cases and violent criminals are we going to have to support, before you act like a mature citizen and stop treating it as mere recreation?

          • bpuharic

            And how many TBTF bankers are we going to let violate moral hazard on the taxpayer’s credit card before you stop treating THAT crime like it’s an example of great social mobility?

          • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

            When Progressives stop using them to further their social agendas.

          • tomdperk

            Ask President Goldman-Sachs, current Occupier of the Oval Office.

          • bpuharic

            Agreed. Obama has governed like a conservative regarding Wall Street

          • tomdperk

            The bailouts had nothing to do with anything conservative, and the very fiscally conservative tea party is a reaction to both the bailouts and to the ridiculous monetization of debt Obama has undertaken, via his cat’s paw Bernanke. It is these leftist policies which make him President Goldman-Sachs.

          • bpuharic

            Sure they did. A conservative president with 6 years of right wing supply side economics? The fact they gored the tax payer simply means conservatives are good at marketing.

            The Reinhart and Rogoff study showed financial sector recoveries are slower than others. So conservatives bankrupted the country.

            Conservatives bailed out the banks since Obama didn’t take office until 2009, your revisionist history notwithstanding.

            Conservatives fought against regulating credit default swaps and stood by while they ballooned by 20,000% in 10 years. Conservatives did everything they could to load up Wall Street with insulated privileges leaving taxpayers with the debt

          • tomdperk

            “A conservative president with 6 years of right wing supply side economics?”

            You mean the consistently moving towards zero deficit that only exploded once Democrats took the House, and the Democrat created housing bubble exploded?

          • bpuharic

            Bush’s last deficit was 1.2T. Obama’s deficits are less than that

            And I realize conservatives aren’t big on economics, but deficits ALWAYS rise in a depression. You guys caused it. It’s like an arsonist blaming the fire dept for burning down the house.

          • tomdperk

            If conservatives had endorsed the Obama deficits, you’d have a point.

            http://cdn.pjmedia.com/instapundit/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/OBAMAFAILDEFICITSCBO.jpg

            See how the Bush deficits are moving towards zero consistently until the Democrat’s housing bubble explodes, and then they stay high until far higher until now. That’s the money Obama is borrowing for his stupid spending spree. The
            ’08 spike is the bailout. The ’09 Marianas’ trench is all yours.

          • bpuharic

            Conservatives endorsed the Bush deficits since Bush was president when his last one was 1.2T.

            The Bush deficits started to skyrocket during the last few years of his presidency when right wing economics caused the collapse of the economy.

            And the housing bubble was irrelevant. Home ownership over 30 years ranged between 64 to 68%. Credit default swaps, however, in 2007 were

            sixty two trillion dollars

            more than the GDP of the entire planet

            Conservatives allowed this to happen then stuck the middle class with the bill since, as Romney said, the middle class is just a bunch of moochers.

            And, as I pointed out, it’s a fact

            a fact

            deficits ALWAYS increase in a depression. The time to pay down debt is when times are good

            Instead, Bush spent TRILLIONS on war and tax cuts.

            Now you try to blame Obama for your failures?

            That’s a bit precious.

            Oh..by the way…tell me…what is Obama spending money on?

          • tomdperk

            “Conservatives endorsed the Bush deficits since Bush was president when his last one was 1.2T.”

            No it wasn’t, it was around 450 bil, on top of which, it was endorsed by the Dem controlled House and Senate. If you haven’t noticed, the Congress writes all the budgets, the Pres. only signs or doesn’t. Dems were in charge of both houses then. It doesn’t explode to 1.4 trillion until Obama and the Dems are in charge of all houses of government.

            “The Bush deficits…of the economy.”

            The Bush deficits decreased consistently until the Democrats blew up the economy with their housing bubble. The chart’s got all right there in hard numbers. Which ones are wrong?

            “deficits ALWAYS increase … times are good”

            And when have the Democrats ever let us do that?

            “Credit default swaps…the entire planet”

            Which doesn’t mean anything, because it’s the extent to which they don’t cancel each other out that’s the problem. That extent was the result of the Dem’s housing bubble.

            “Instead, Bush spent …and tax cuts.”

            Oh, yeah. Something worth something you mean. Iraq just like Vietnam, we were winning until the Dems get a hold of it. There isn’t one skull in Cambodia’s killing fields the Dems don’t have a thumbprint on.

            “Oh..by the way…tell me…what is Obama spending money on?”

            People not to work, bennies for illegals, Obamaphones, payoffs to green investors, letting Wall Street make money at Main Street’s expense*, stupid job killing regulations, he pretty much runs the lefty gammut of stupidity.

            *You may think that sounds righty, but conservative is pro-market, not pro-business, and Wall Street gave him plenty of vig; Like any good Chicago pol he’s bought for now. Long time Dem burg, Chicago.

          • tomdperk

            “Conservatives bailed out the banks since Obama didn’t take office until 2009″

            No Georgie was always a centrist politician, he’s GOP establishment. They haven’t been conservative since Coolidge, and I don’t know they were happy Cal.

            “The Reinhart and Rogoff…bankrupted the country.”

            No, they didn’t, its the 120 trillion in off book obligations the Democrats have committed us to that have bankrupted the nation.

            “:Conservatives fought against…in 10 years.”

            Against how the left wants them regulated, certainly, the left doesn’t have a clue.

            “Conservatives did everything …with the debt”

            No they didn’t, it’s the left loading up Wall Street with too easy money, and still not letting the bodies hit eh floor (or not prosecuting the Black Panthers, or the Fast and Furious lawbreaking, or Global, for that matter). It’s all yours.

            The conservatives want the financial bodies to hit the floor.

          • bpuharic

            No True Scotsman fallacy, eh? A conservative can’t be conservative if he’s a failure, by definition, it seems.

            And merely because you don’t LIKE the Reinhart and Rogoff study doesn’t mean it’s false. You guys bankrupted the country sticking the taxpayer with the bill. The depression started in 2007. Obama took office in 2009. I realize you’re embarrassed by conservative economics, but facts are facts.

            And it was George Bush who decided to drop criminal charges against the panthers

            Don’t you know ANY history at all?

          • ajpwriter

            Crime is a complicated issue depending on numerous factors, economic and social. To pretend that incarcerating more people longer changes nothing at all is a hard sell.

            Which is not to say that all the Tough on Crime laws are effective. Incarceration of the non-violent amounted to doubling down on the drug war, and pretty clearly backfired. But the violent belong in jail, as I can tell you agree, because mercy for violent offenders wasn’t on that list.

            It was the violent and drug-addicted that scared the voters back then. The GOP promised to punish lawbreakers; the Democrats promised them mercy. Neither group was prepared then, or is prepared now, to really differentiate between them. So long as the drug war exists, the same is like to continue.

          • ajpwriter

            Permit me to address a seeming inconsistency: the failure of the Democrats to differentiate between the violent and the non-violent was probably a matter of perception. In the rhetoric of the time, the D’s preferred to regard violent crime as a pathology arising from social conditions. which is as true as it is irrelevant when you’re worried about being able to walk the streets at night. So any serious intent to punish violent offenders got lost in the largely empty noise about urban renewal and equality. That wasn’t what the people wanted to hear, so the GOP’s double-down on the drug war won out.

          • tomdperk

            “The ‘left’ was offering decriminilization of marijuana use, shorter sentences for non violent crimes, etc.”

            No it wasn’t. You can have you own facts, but not have them be respected. The actual left that was elected was obeying the self-identified representatives of the African American community, who were themselves baying about how the terrible scourge of crack needed to be handled by having higher sentences for it’s use and distribution.

          • bpuharic

            Crack, of course, isn’t marijuana

            And that’s a fact

          • tomdperk

            Nevertheless, the point invalidates your prattling. The left has not yet gotten behind the decriminalization of MJ yet generally, and very Republican places like Alaska were foremost in that effort in any case.

            Also, the comparison you invited was to the differential sentencing of powder vs crack cocaine, which difference is exactly what leftists begged for at the time.

          • bpuharic

            The left is definitely behind decriminilization. Obama is a center-right politician so governs like one.

          • ChuckFinley

            Now you have entered my “Reply only to mock” list.

          • tomdperk

            Nonsense, the left wants to criminalize not buying medical insurance, and to nationalize 1/6th of the economy.

          • bpuharic

            THe right nationalized Wall STreet, sticking the taxpayer with the bills for the blow out of the run up in credit default swaps. As the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz pointed out, we nationalized risk and privatized reward

            We go with what works. Conservatives gave us the most inefficient, most expensive healthcare system in the world and wants to ration by income.

            And there should be a Godwins’ law for anyone who calls Obama a commie. You right wingers all too often invoke marxism when someone points out your failures. It’s a mindless cliche.

          • tomdperk

            “THe right nationalized Wall STreet, ”

            The left created those CDS by letting the FM’s sell mortgages that weren’t worth anything, and by forcing all other mortgage institutions to play by their game or lose out.

            “sticking the taxpayer …and privatized reward”

            Exactly like what the Dem’s claimed was a feature, not a bug, that the Fed was backing the mortgage market.

            “We go with…ration by
            income.”

            Nothing has had more to do with that than government interference int he medical marketplace, and how else should it be rationed by, if you want costs to fall to where more people have access? Instead, we have the Democrats’ stupidity of Obamacare, and rates skyrocketing.

            “And there should…Obama a
            commie.”

            Yeah, his whole intellectual history and actions in office have nothing to do with it.

            “You right wingers… a mindless cliche’s”

            You haven’t named a failure of conservatism yet, but you’re still the one trying to criminalize innocent gun ownership on a thread about how criminal law reform will come from the GOP.

          • bpuharic

            Actually deregulation of CDS’s were authored by Phil Gramm, a conservative Republican whose wife was a VP at Enron

            How’d that work out?

            And the GOP held the House for 6 years while CDS’s ballooned. They did nothing.

            And mortgage institutions were not forced to do anything. The money was too good so they prostituted sound financial policy when the GOP decided deregulation was great. Subprime mortgages, as a percentage of all mortgages, didn’t go above 10% until 2004. Bush was president and the GOP held the house. They hit 25% in 2006 when the GOP, again, held the House and the presidency

            Isn’t deregulation great?

          • tomdperk

            You don’t get it. The deregulation of the CDS is not the problem, it’s the Democrats driving the whole real estate market into insanity that’s the problem. The people holding CDS correctly guessed the Dems would drive the government to bail them out, just like the Dems had promised, so they weren’t as prudent as they would have been on their own dime. They had Frank and Dodd promising they weren’t on their own dime.

            You remember which party Frank and Dodd are in, right?

          • bpuharic

            Wrong.

            Home ownership over the last 30 years has been pretty constant at about 65% of all homes

            Credit default swaps, however, were 320 billion in 1997

            and sixty two TRILLION in 2007, an increase of

            20,000%

            Go ahead tell me how that’s irrelevant.

          • tomdperk

            It doesn’t have anything to do with it because the reason the mortgages weren’t what the were rated at was because the Dems were driving the FM’s to let risky mortgages, thereby distorting the market.

          • bpuharic

            Risky mortgages never went above 10% of all mortgages until 2004

            when the GOP had the presidency AND the house

            And mortgages were irrelevant

            Credit default swaps blew up the economy

            while the conservatives told us how all those Wall Street bankers were the ‘makers’.

          • tomdperk

            Risky mortgages climbed steadily once the banks were forced by bogus red line lawsuits into CRA mandated risky loans, that began under Clinton. Senators Dodd and Frank (which party again) pink slipped Bush’s efforts to stop that idiocy.

            This happened recently enough it is very well documented, you dumb enough to claim Bush pushed the mortgage industry into bad loans?

            “Credit default swaps blew up the economy”

            No. The Dem’s housing bubble blew up the CDSes. The Dems created the moral hazard in housing, without which systemic risk the CDS would have trucked merrily along.

          • bpuharic

            1/25 of the largest banks that went bankrupt were subject to the CRA. Others were just greedy.

            And Clinton was not president in 2007.Bush was. There was plenty of time to do something. Conservatives did nothing because Wall Street was making SO much money.

            Mortgages were irrelevant. Credit default swaps weren’t.

            Neither Dodd nor Frank was president. Bush was.

            The GOP controlled the House AND the presidency. They allowed the moral hazard to happen.

            There are 415 members of the house NOT named Dodd or Frank

            And in 2006 most of them were conservative

          • tomdperk

            No dummy, they had to adopt the same low standards to compete. The CRA distorted the market they were in, also true the Dems were promising the Fed was backing the whole market, since they were backing tranches with FM morts in them.

            Clinton was President when the CRA started to push for bad loans. That’s when it started, Bush tried to stop it, Frank and Dodd stopped him. Senators get to do that when it has to pass the Senate.

            “Mortgages were irrelevant. Credit default swaps weren’t.”

            The mortgages were the only reason the CDS didn’t sum to close to zero. The Democrat inspired mortgages created the systemic risk.

            “The GOP controlled the House AND the presidency.”

            When? in 2007? Did you forget the Senate, without which no change happens?

            “They allowed the moral hazard to happen.”

            No, Bush tried to reign it in, and Dodd and Frank stopped him.

            “There are 415 members of the house NOT named Dodd or Frank”

            None of which changes the fact Senators get a veto in the Senate unless 60 or more Senators voter against them. They other numbers don’t matter, they can’t change Senate rules. Also, Dodd and Frank are two people, there’s 533 people in the Congress who aren’t them.

            I’m not shocked you find integers to be challenging.

      • tomdperk

        Failed how? Violent crime is about as low as it’s been since records were kept. Should only provable crimes against people and property be codified in law? Sure.
        But then the right hardly owns government involving itself in things not its business.

        • bpuharic

          Violent crime has dropped across the world; it has nothing to do with incarceration rates. There were much cheaper and more effective methods to use than locking up a HUGE number of Americans.

          • tdperk

            In some places, it has gone up a great deal. In the UK, gun crime has soared. Reality has a conservative bias.
            And of course, things which aren’t actually crimes should be legal. But then it’s not the Republicans or the Right which have lead to a nation where everyone commits three felonies a day.
            That comes courtesy of the Lefts regulatory state.
            TomDPerk

          • bpuharic

            Gun crime hasn’t ‘soared’ regardless of NRA propaganda. As I said, our white on white gun related murder rate is

            1200% higher

            than the UK. Spin it any way you want. More guns mean more death.

          • tomdperk

            What you’ve said doesn’t have any relevance on the one hand, or truth on the other. The distinction between generic American rates of violent crime and rates in once far more racially homogeneous Britain are roughly constant, America has always been more violent than Britain. And it is true British gun crimes rates have soared since they prohibited handguns to the public. What else do you call an admitted almost doubling but soaring?

            That handgun ban sure was (in)effective.

            Must be that laws don’t have much good effect on this topic.

            And I’ll be the first to assert race is only a proxy for culture in this matter. Nevertheless, the statistical point is unassailable, blacks commit far more violent crime in the country than do whites, and that crime deserves incarceration regardless of the skin color of the culprit…this will mean blacks are in prison more than are whites with racism having nothing to do with it.

          • bpuharic

            One truly despairs at the reading ability of the gun fundamentalist

            The recent “Economist’ article pointed out that

            WHITE ON WHITE

            see those words?? Read them again. Several times if you have to.

            WHITE ON WHITE MURDER RATES

            are 1200% higher in the US than the UK.

            WHITE ON WHITE

            Race has NOTHING to do with it.

            And it’s NOT true that gun crime rates have soared. They had about 60 gun related murders last year. THey have 1/6 our population. That equates to about 360 murders

            Vs our 9,000

            I suggest you spend less time listening to Rush and more time reading objective evidence.

          • tomdperk

            You’re the one claiming the DoJ is the American Rifleman.

            “And it’s NOT true that gun crime rates have soared.”

            It certainly is true. Their count of firearm murders has consistently climbed since they banned firearms, it’s doubled no matter how you count it. If you don’t discard 2012 as an outlier, it’s tripled.

            All you are showing is the US is a more violent country with respect to homicide than the UK, which fact I’ve never objected to. I’m merely observing the white fraction of the US, which draws it’s white population from around the whole of Europe, has commensurate homicide rates with Europe as a whole, and that in both the UK and the US, the non-white fractions of the population are in fact responsible for a drastically disproportionate fraction of the homicides in both nations. (Also, evidently unlike you, I don’t think a murder is less serious if it’s done with a baseball bat than a gun.)

            And race has a great deal to do with it, even if race is a proxy for culture. When Rev. Jesse Jackson said he was more nervous passing young blacks on the street as opposed to whites, he was being quite reasonable, not racist. He was simply taking into account, knowing nothing other than skin color (and I presume thinking of similar dress), that between blacks and white, one posed a far more likely threat.

          • bpuharic

            Uh no. They had 60 fire arm deaths last year. If you consider that ‘skyrocketing’ you seem to have a different definition than anyone on the planet

            except Rush

          • tomdperk

            The stat I saw at the Daily Mail was 42. Since that represented a steadily rising count at that from 14 when the idiot law was passed, which was not an unusually low year then…that’s a fourfold increase is a crime parameter that law was intended to solve.

            Yes, a steady rise to a fourfold increase is skyrocketing. You seem to think going from 14 to 60 is statistical noise, when in fact a ten or five year average shows the dramatic increase.

          • tomdperk

            BTW, why is at that at the same time you state violent crime rates are going down everywhere (not true) and you claim more guns mean more death, the issuance of carry licenses and respect for the right to carry openly has drastically increased ion the US? Why haven’t liberalized carry laws meant a rise in gun crime?

            That answer is that restricting guns to the criminal element empowers them and not civil society, and no society can justly deprive people of their right to effective self defense.

          • bpuharic

            The recent work by David Heminway at Harvard, and a group at Johns Hopkins found that increased carry laws, ‘stand your ground’ laws, etc.lead to increased death. Of course, whites who kill blacks are prosecuted less than those who kill whites.

            The fact is, with our racist 2nd amendment, we’re arguing at the margins.We have, by FAR, the highest gun related murder rate in the western world, due to the 2nd. It’s time to repeal it.

            Other developed countries have criminals too.

            Yes, they really do.

            If YOUR view was correct, the bodies would be stacked like firewood in Europe.

            Unfortunately it’s America, with our gun crazed culture, that allows the slaughter.

          • tomdperk

            “increased carry laws, ‘stand your ground’ laws, etc.lead to increased death”

            No they haven’t shown that. The most consistently wonderfully wrong argument the gun banners make is to claim that when carry laws are made more consistent with the 2nd amendment, that the gun murders will go up, and that keeps on not happening. Strictly speaking, aggressor deaths also do not increase, but even if they did, I have to wonder at the amoral yardstick by which that would be a bad result.

            “Of course, whites who kill blacks are prosecuted less than those who kill whites.”

            Why should anything else be true? The whites are defending themselves against black criminals far more often than the reverse. If crime rates amongst ethnic groups were identical, and they’re not, that would still be true purely as a matter of opportunity.

            No, there are many places in Europe where firearm ownership is common, according to you the bodies should be stacking up line cordwood, they aren’t because guns have nothing to do with it, except to advantage the innocent.

            “with our racist 2nd amendment”

            There’s not one racist word in it, and no one would benefit more from respecting the 2nd amendment more broadly than the benighted minorities living self-ghettoized in cites ruled by Democrats. Their violent crime/hot burglary rates would plummet.

            ‘Course, the problem for the Democrats there is those people now chained quite tight to the Democrat plantation wouldn’t need the local political establishments so much then, would they?

            “Unfortunately it’s America, with our gun crazed culture, that allows the slaughter.”

            America has been around twice as violent a place as Europe for a long time, and recently at least America’s gun culture far less so than most of the rest of America. The Americans who grow up with guns are not the cause of this nation’s crime problems. That gun culture is the foundation of the greatest advance in political economy the world has yet seen, and the only revolution that worked. I’ll take that liberty gladly, even if it were part and parcel of the higher overall or firearms murder rate, it’s cheap at the price.

          • bpuharic

            Yes, they have. As I pointed out, David Heminway at Harvard, and groups at Johns Hopkins and Texas A and M showed these laws just legalize murder of blacks by whites.

            The 2nd amendment was racist at its inception and you’re proving it still is

  • Corlyss

    “Though the rate of incarceration of blacks has declined recently, it is still disproportionate to the size of the overall black population, and because of this and the poor employment prospects for convicted felons, black communities have been decimated.”
    Blacks end up in prison because they commit crimes. It’s not society’s fault because it wants to be safe from criminals. At the root of this situation is behaviors, particularly individual black male behavior. I suppose the next trendy solution would be to release all convicted blacks in excess of the “proportion” blacks represent in society. That would sure square everything for the perpetual victim crowd.

    • bpuharic

      Wrong.We criminalize activities that blacks perform more than we do whites. That’s not proof blacks are criminals. It’s a latter day justification for racism.

      • Anthony

        Addendum if I may: they tend strongly to resist whatever is objectively the case if it does not harmonize with their delusions (having little sense of individual identity, identity is derived from some extensive tribe…)

      • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

        Care to provide specific examples of such racism …

        … as opposed to actual criminal behavior that is passively condoned and/or actively glorified by elements within these communities, in the name of racial solidarity … while the welfare state perpetuates single-parenthood, persistent poverty, and the idea that exercising one’s personal initiative is a fool’s errand?

        Detroit is a prime example of what I am talking about … the Las Vegas of Race Card gaming.

      • Michelle

        And we criminalize all kinds of things that belong in the civil code. (That, I think, has to be addressed mostly at the federal level — and good luck.) However, even if we concentrated on violent crimes that hurt other people, we would still likely lock up more blacks proportionately because of the widespread social and family breakdown in the urban black community. To solve the larger incarceration problem, we need to solve that problem. I don’t think there’s any way to get around the crime stats in places like Chicago.

        • bpuharic

          Although I generally agree with this, Chicago has become the whipping boy of the right, when New Orleans, with its lax gun laws, is the murder capital of the US

          • Michelle

            Okay–fair enough, although I did cite “places like” Chicago. The general point I was trying to make is that it’s not really about race, at least the solution isn’t about race. No matter how eager we are to eradicate racism, nobody in his right mind is going to hire a 30-year-old illiterate with a drug habit and a felony record for any kind of real job. No matter where people come from, they need real families, safe places to grow up, and some idea that they have a future. None of those things is true either in Chicago or New Orleans. I don’t think it’s the guns; New Hampshire, where I live, is full of guns, but my neighbors are filling their freezers with venison and ducks, not shooting each others’ kids.

          • tomdperk

            In murders per residents? Or murders per black residents? And how to explain Vermont’s laws and lack of murders?

            A mystery only the left can’t contemplate to a valid conclusion.

          • bpuharic

            You DO realize that white gun related homicide rates are 1200% higher than they are in the UK, right? It has zip to do with race.

          • tomdperk

            You do realize the UK makes up for that (to the extent it’s even true) with far higher rates of assault and hot burglary, and that their firearm murder rate skyrocketed once they effectively made handguns illegal?

            Their far less lethal culture was made far more dangerous when they abrogated the individual human right to an effective self defense.

          • bpuharic

            Their firearm murder rate did not ‘skyrocket’ at all. It’s so low that ANY increase would appear to be a huge increase, NRA propaganda notwithstanding.

            And their violent crime rate…excluding murder..is about 30% higher than ours

            Our murder rate is 1200% higher than theirs….murder, of course, being a violent crime.

          • tomdperk

            And you keep on stating it’s 1200% You do mean it’s 12 fold, say per 100,000? The American rate is 4.7 to 4.96 per 100,000, depending an who you cite. Are you saying the British rate . 0.46 per 100,000?

            This graph shows the differential rates in the US of white vs. black murder victimization:

            http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/23/Homicide_victimization_by_race.jpg

            It’s from the impeccably lefty source Wikipedia.

            Can you provide evidence it is factually wrong?

            And don’t pretend a consistent rate of increase leading to a doubling over close now to two decades time isn’t statistically significant, that’s what the British gun laws did for their gun crime rate.

          • bpuharic

            I was wrong. The white on white murder rate in the US is 2100% higher than the UK; I thought it was only 1200%. My mistake.

            http://www.economist.com/blogs/lexington/2013/03/gun-control-0?zid=312&ah=da4ed4425e74339883d473adf5773841

            Read some objective evidence rather than the “American Rifleman”.

          • tomdperk

            That was Wikipedia, from the US DoJ, try to keep up. Also the white rate for the US is 2.6 per 100k. The UK rate may be 21 (or 12, it doesn’t really matter) fold less than that. The point is their firearm murder rate has doubled since they essentially banned guns. The US rate has fallen dramatically since it has liberalized guns laws.

            According to your blather, this fact is unpossible.

            Unless guns in fact have nothing to do with it, except by advantaging the innocent when they are legal.

            However the overall UK murder rate is 1.6, the overall US rate is around 4.6 ~ 5 per 100,000. If the UK white rate is so much drastically lower than the US white rate, then you are left with the fact the UK non-white population (which is much lower) must really be working overtime to hold the UK statistics in a relative way.

            That kind of consistency works against your argument it’s all the result of racism, and even against my argument it’s primarily about culture.

          • bpuharic

            That was the Economist, the world’s foremost news magazine..try to keep up.

            The white on white US murder rate is 2100% higher than the UK.

            The fact it’s ‘doubled’? Uh..big deal. It’s 1/30th ours. If you’d ever taken a course in stats, you’d know that a small increase in a small number is HUGE

            Too much to hope for for the fundamentalist 2nd amendment folks

          • tomdperk

            “That was the Economist, the world’s foremost news magazine..try to keep up.”

            The Economist takes Keynes seriously, and only recently admitted AGW was a hoax, which anyone with a functioning brain has known for a decade. Take them for non-partisan or effectively intelligent at your peril.

            And consistently moving towards a doubled crime rate which a ban on effective self defense was supposed to bring towards zero is significant, especially in light of the fact the US rates have dropped while our carry laws were liberalized–and the murders rates for firearms are getting worse where the laws aren’t liberalized. The laws criminalizing gun ownership in public and private settings only advantage criminals. The guns in fact have nothing to do with it, except as advantaging the innocent when they are legal.

            There is also the fact the homicide crime rate committed by non-whites in European derived societies is far out of proportion to the fraction of the society they make up, and this is true regardless of where you are in the Europeans derived world. I’m willing to believe race is a proxy for culture, but I’m at least willing to recognize a fact as a fact, instead of whinging about it.

            There is also the irony of this whole thread being about reducing the criminal laws requiring incarceration, and you’re here representing the left’s idea of a harmless activity which the left wants to criminalize–firearms ownership, you are railing about differential incarceration rates being all about racism, when A) blacks commit more violent crimes than whites, which justify the rates in part, and B) much of the remainder are the result of the black community going crying to their leash holders in the Dem establishment, and demanding harsher sentences for crack than for cocaine, which they then got good and hard just like how they said they wanted it.

          • bpuharic

            A lie is a terrible way to say hello. They did NOT say AGW was a ‘hoax’ since it’s not. What they DID say was that there’s a plateau currently that’s not totally understood, which is a bit different than your…ahem…hoax.

            Richard Posner, conservative economist recently declared ‘we’re all Keynesians now’ since Keynesianism proved to be correct while supply side economists were blown out of the water, having predicted hyperinflation for the last 4 years.

            Crime rates have dropped across the western world. However, our murder rates are STILL 30X that of the UK. Your explanation?

            None.

            Blacks are also locked up more frequently for NON violent crimes including cannabis possession. White collar white criminals, however, can bankrupt the country and

            nothing happens.

          • tomdperk

            They admitted it wasn’t in evidence, how is that not a lie?

            “Richard Posner, conservative …last 4 years.”

            Then he’s wrong. The only economists who have a clue are the Austrians, the only ones to get anything correct for nigh on 70 years now.

            “Crime rates have…UK. Your explanation?”

            Our crime rates have dropped, when all your theories say they should have gone up and down in time with the AWB, when in fact they go down if anything in time with letting people be able to protect themselves effectively, with firearms.

            “None.”

            None would be your explanation for why the primarily white/exposed to legal firearms since childhood parts of the country have the lowest firearm murder rates.

            “Blacks are also …and
            nothing happens.”

            That would be because they have other violent priors/criminal history which tend to prevent their admission into diversion programs on the one hand/and on the other because because they’ve bought off the Obama admin.

            Corzine did how much time?

          • bpuharic

            I’ll tell you what

            You find me a reference from the Economist where they say AGW is a ‘hoax’ (sic) and I will leave this blog never to return

            Otherwise you’re a liar.

            The Austrian model is a failure for the reason I pointed out. It predicted hyperinflation. Inflation is about 0%. A bit of a difference, regardless of what the right wing talk shows say.

            Crime rates have dropped across the western world…ALL countries have seen their crime rates drop

            Our MURDER rate is still 30X that of the UK. You avoid the issue

            Why?

            Our WHITE ON WHITE murder rate is 21X that of the UK

            your explanation?

            None.

            so you’re batting 0.

            Pretty much typical for a conservative

          • tomdperk

            No, I never lie.

            I just tell the truth and you think it’s h**l. The Economist admitted AGW wasn’t happening. The only explanation–since it was such a slam dunk for over a decade–is that people faked their numbers. That is a hoax.

            “It predicted hyperinflation. Inflation is about 0%.”

            For now. Inflation is a certainty. You can’t print money and have it keep value, that simply doesn’t happen. And speaking as someone who buys food for a family, yes there is inflation. The government lies when it says there isn’t.

            “Our MURDER rate is still 30X that of the UK. You avoid the issue”

            You’re avoiding the issue! Their firearms murder rate goes up over 200% despite a drastic ban, our goes down although we liberalize carry. QED your theory the problem is firearms is BS.

            “None. so you’re…for a conservative”

            Really? And you’ve tackled that Vermont poser so well in contrast.

            I’ve never said the US is less violent than the UK, I’ve said the relative change in rates of firearms murders shows that laws keeping average people from having guns of whatever sort is no answer to firearms related crime, and that a drastically large fraction of the violent crime in each country is committed disproportionately by ethnic minorities. I haven’t seen you put out any counter evidence.

          • bpuharic

            As I said, you provide a reference and I’ll leave. You haven’t. So yes, Virginia, you are lying.

            And no it’s not a ‘slam dunk’. You’re not a scientist. I am. We don’t understand ALL the factors regarding AGW, no matter what you talk radio bobbleheads say. But it’s happening. The very fact you can’t cite a reference for your lie shows how distorted your view of reality is.

            Inflation is a certainty? Golly…an article of faith, it seems since you haven’t provided ANY proof in FOUR YEARS that it’s happened. What’s next? Ghosts? UFO’s?

            When do you finally admit your right wing chimeras are nothing more than fiction?

          • tomdperk

            “So yes, Virginia, you are lying.”

            No I am not. The Economist admitted there was nothing to AGW, therefore they admitted it was hoax.

          • tomdperk

            Say, aren’t both those places run by Democrat machines. Why yes, they are.

          • bpuharic

            Nope. Gov of LA is Bobby Jindal. He sets policy for LA.

            If he can’t run a state, he can’t run a country. Another failure

          • tomdperk

            No, he doesn’t. That would be the Mayor Nagin’s follow on, he of drowned bus fame.

            Don’t you know the diff between a Governor and a Mayor?

          • bpuharic

            Cities are run by states. Mayors work for governors

            Jindal is a failure.

          • tomdperk

            Try again dummy, the Mayor of Nawlins is not chosen by the Governor.

          • bpuharic

            You really don’t know much about law do you?

            Policies in cities are set by STATE LAW. Jindal and the legislature determine the policies in NO including gun laws

            All of which are failures, resulting in one of the highest murder rates in the world.

          • tomdperk

            No, they aren’t. All local laws are determined by the cities, and they execute them. States are solely concerned with state laws, they don’t run cities. Say, why isn’t all of LA having N.O.’s murder rates, if its the state laws which are the problem? Must be how the Dems still in charge of N.O. like it!

          • bpuharic

            Local laws are subject to state review so they exist at the sufferance of the state.

            And the state has failed.

            NO is the largest state in LA which, amazingly enough, is probably why it’s having the problems it does

            Jindal is a failure

          • tomdperk

            “Local laws are subject to state review so they exist at the sufferance of the state.”

            Only if the state constitutions permit that, and none do. Jindal and the state of LA can’t change laws just for NO.

            Local elections have consequences, and NO is enjoying with their corruption and murder rate, everything I expect out of Dem machine politcs.

  • aloysiusmiller

    Our social welfare system can’t “reward” someone for drug abuse with benefits so it has to incarcerate the abuser and provide the food and lodging in “time out”. Take away the benefits and we won’t care any more. Surely it won’t be that simple but if we put more self regulation into the lower stratas of society they will learn to behave to eat.

    • bpuharic

      Or, of course, they can turn to violent crime.

  • ChuckFinley

    Our current prison system is largely a result of the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill in the 1960s and 1970s. Before deinstitutionalization, mental hospitals held senile elderly – who are now treated in nursing homes, late stage syphilis victims – who are very rare today thanks to antibiotics, and psychotics who are much more inclined to violence than the general public.

    Before civil liberties advocates made it nearly impossible to confine mentally ill people against their will, they were arrested much less often than the rest of the population for violent crimes. Today they are free to sleep on sidewalks and freeze to death until they hurt or kill somebody and wind up in prison.

    A study by Bernard E Harcourt found that the rate of violent crime corresponds very closely to the percentage of the population that is confined in institutions – either mental hospitals or prisons. When more people are institutionalized there is less violent crime. While I personally think that it would be kinder to keep mentally ill people in mental hospitals where their physical need can be met and they can be kept on medication, our society has made the decision to leave them loose until they hurt or kill somebody and then put them in prison.

    • bpuharic

      Since many in prison are there for non violent crimes, it’s apparent that our prison population has more to do with the ‘tough on crime’ policies that have been such a failure, than they are with the mentally ill…who, by the way, are not all that violent.

      • http://proteinwisdom.com darleenclick

        Are you talking prison or jail? Because most of those sent to state prison (at least in CA) ARE violent. The non-violent ones are those that are career or habitual criminals.

        • bpuharic

          Something like 40% of criminals are non violent offenders for minor offenses like possession of cannabis. More failures for the ‘tough on crime’ view

          • http://proteinwisdom.com darleenclick

            Again. BULLSHIT. I’ve got 15 years in DA office and there are no “minor offenses” in State prison. Good freakin’ lord, one can make some good arguments for reforming a prison system without lying about it.

          • bpuharic

            I don’t care that you’re a DA. As my Public Defender wife says, “The guilt or innocence of the defendant notwithstanding, if the DA is present, there’s at least ONE criminal in the courtroom’.

            Tell me what a threat a doobie smoker is.

            Why should we spend money on them

      • ChuckFinley

        While most of the mentally ill are not violent, a lot of the violence committed in the US is done by mentally ill individuals. Paranoid schizophrenics are much more likely to commit violence than other mentally ill people or the general population. All of the mass shootings over the last few years have been committed by mentally ill individuals.

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