The value of Colin Flaherty

Reform is an ambiguous word, open to interpretation.  Groups that support amnesty for illegal aliens and groups opposed to amnesty for illegal aliens both claim to support reform; one man’s reform is another man’s folly.

This September, the House Judiciary Committee will release its proposals for criminal justice reform.  The committee will likely suggest a number of measures, such as reducing mandatory minimum sentences, with the aim of reducing the United States’ burgeoning prison population.  In our era of hyper-polarization, reducing the prison population is a rare area of common ground among Republicans and Democrats.  Republicans want to cut costs, and Democrats want a less punitive judicial system.

Efforts to reduce the prison population have focused on nonviolent drug offenders, but as Oliver Roeder pointed out, releasing all drug offenders from state and federal prison would reduce the prison population by only 14 percent.  In other words, it is unclear how deeply we could cut into the prison population without endangering the public.

Enter Colin Flaherty, stage right.

To his detractors, Colin Flaherty is a 21st-century D.W. Griffith, portraying blacks as inherently dangerous and criminal.  Flaherty denies having a racist agenda, describing himself as a journalist reporting politically incorrect facts.  (One of his early achievements was a series that helped free a man unjustly jailed for murder, who happened to be black.  How many of his critics can claim as much?)  Regardless of his motives, Flaherty’s YouTube channel is one of the few places one can witness the reality of violent street crime.

Ignoring the racial angle, the fact that Flaherty can find new footage of innocent people being brutally attacked by criminals demonstrates that street crime remains a major problem.  Particularly sick and disturbing was the death of seventy-four-year old Larry Brown, robbed and beaten to death by three teenagers.

Violent street crime of the type that claimed Larry Brown’s life imposes a cost on society beyond its direct victims.  Will other senior citizens in his neighborhood venture outside, or will they be incarcerated in their own homes by the fear of crime?

Many on the left believe that America’s high rate of incarceration stems from racial bias and overly punitive sentencing.  Conservatives looking to trim fat from the budget have become increasingly receptive to such arguments.  Seeing actual video footage of violent street crime makes it impossible to ignore the cost that crime imposes on society.

Time spent behind bars is a waste of life, and when that time results from excessively harsh sentencing, it represents an injustice.  However, in trying to correct the excesses of the tough-on-crime era, conservatives have to be aware of the consequences of getting this wrong.  As far as Colin Flaherty is reminding them of these costs, he is doing a public service.