A dose of reality about crime in America
Whether one agrees with David French or not, he is a bright man. When he writes about alternative approaches to treating criminals, given the unprecedented rise in crime over the last year, perhaps it's worth paying attention. Or perhaps it's not. A brilliant Twitter thread exposes facts that French conveniently ignores. More than that, the thread reveals that soft-headed criminal justice reform is incredibly cruel to the communities most affected by crime.
After a wordy introduction meant to prove his woke bona fides, French gets to the point: there's been a 29% increase in crime over the last year. French skips completely over the "why" of this increase (hint: "defund the police") because he wants to discuss a more Sunday sermon point, which is that the system has been riven in the past with injustice, and we now have the opportunity to change that.
French accurately says there is no justice when criminals or police get away with violating the law. Under-policing is also a form of injustice, he says, although how he manages to say this and then takes eight paragraphs before mentioning the defund the police movement is beyond me.
That's just a warm-up, though. The real point French wants to make is that "vengeance is unjust" and that "proportionality is an absolutely indispensable element of justice." May I quote my kids from their teenage years here? "Well, duh."
And that's when French falls into the fallacies every leftist does, which is to point to the fact that lots of people in America are imprisoned for having committed crimes. And of course, he castigates Three Strikes laws, which are easy targets (although I'm betting a lot of people in Chicago who are preyed upon by people revolving through prison doors would love a little Three Strikes justice, or any justice, for that matter).
And then it's all about over-incarceration, and the 2021 Brennan Center for Justice study, and, of course, "the vast racial disparities in both incarceration and sentencing."
But you know what? According to Delano Squires, who, like French's adopted daughter, is Black, that's a gross over-simplification that leads to policies that harm people in those neighborhoods most affected by crime. Let me turn this post over to him and his powerful, fact-based, very polite tweets:
As is often the case in this area, David never says WHY people in this country are incarcerated. Before I do that, it is helpful to know what the ecosystem of confinement looks like. There are about 630K ppl in local jails.— Delano Squires (@DelanoSquires) September 26, 2021
The largest part of the confinement ecosystem is the state prison system. This is where over 1.2M people are incarcerated. If you let “criminal justice” reformers tell it, you’d think most are there for low-level nonviolent drug crimes. But that is simply untrue.— Delano Squires (@DelanoSquires) September 26, 2021
And lest you think there is some hidden racial disparity that explains this, please note that there is a higher % of whites (16%) in prison for drugs than blacks (13%). The unfortunate fact is that violent offenses are what drive the racial disparity in incarceration.— Delano Squires (@DelanoSquires) September 26, 2021
All of the available data (CDC, FBI, local crime statistics) supports this claim. We never hear about it because the people who write about these issues are long on rhetoric about justice and “mass incarceration” but short on actual data.— Delano Squires (@DelanoSquires) September 26, 2021
This inability or unwillingness to deal honestly with the data causes the second problem—misplaced sympathies. You hear it even in how the issues are framed—CRIMINAL justice vs. PUBLIC safety. So French and others think America has an “over incarceration” problem.— Delano Squires (@DelanoSquires) September 26, 2021
But what people who live FAR from belly of the beast fail to realize is that while it is amazing to see a person turn their life around in prison, the main point of removing ppl from society is to PROTECT the law-abiding and innocent from the law-breaking and guilty.— Delano Squires (@DelanoSquires) September 26, 2021
Lastly, there is the issue of policy trade-offs. If reformers think that theft under $1000 should not be prosecuted, they should be prepared to speak honestly about the effects that decision will have on the victims—whether CVS or the mom-and-pop store—and the community at large.— Delano Squires (@DelanoSquires) September 26, 2021
The truth is, given the right circumstances, we ALL desire vengeance. Prioritizing the guilty over the innocent is not a standard of justice I recognize, whether from the Bible or or any other source.— Delano Squires (@DelanoSquires) September 26, 2021
Source data: https://t.co/Nwf4P3pxov
When Dennis Prager played on my local radio station, I remember him saying, quite often, "Being kind to the cruel means being cruel to the kind." David French, like so many White liberals, has let his condescending biases and inaccurate facts get in the way of advancing policies that will genuinely help crime-ridden neighborhoods. His view will simply perpetuate a system in which well-meaning, racist, and uninformed Whites push for policies that are indescribably cruel to the poor people of all colors trapped in neighborhoods affected by those bad policies.
Image: Prison. Public domain.
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