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  • “We Were Poised for Real Criminal Justice Reform”

    Posted by Jonathan on January 27th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Indeed.

    Something similar happened in the early ’90s. It looked as though a political consensus favoring smaller government was taking shape. Republicans with a well-considered smaller-govt agenda took over the Congress and the Democrats started to cut deals with them. Then the Oklahoma City bombing happened, the Clinton Democrats outmaneuvered the Gingrich Republicans over the government shutdown, and the smaller-government impetus was weakened considerably (we did get cap-gains tax cuts, welfare and a few other reforms that did a lot of good in the subsequent decade).

    But then Sept. 11, 2001 and the Middle East war kicked much of what was left of the smaller-government movement over the far horizon, and since 2009 a hard-Left executive branch has been extending and doing its best to entrench post-Reagan government expansion.

    There are tides in the affairs of men. The problem with tides is that they can go out for a long time before they reverse and start to come in. Let’s hope that the statist tide has finally run its course and that we are near a reversal.

     

    27 Responses to ““We Were Poised for Real Criminal Justice Reform””

    1. djf Says:

      I don’t think putting dangerous criminals in prison is what most people mean by “statism.” I shed no tears for the collapsed of “criminal justice reform.”

    2. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      and doing its best to entrench post-Reagan government expansion.

      I think Cruz intends to roll back the state. His platform calls for closing the IRS, HUD, the Dept of Energy and the Dept of Education. That’s a start. Now, how to get him elected? Start a feud with Megyn Kelly? That might work.

      If we assume politics is downstream of culture, and we have news, entertainment and schools all promoting bigger government, that’s a mighty strong tide. On the other hand, Reagan got elected against that group when the American people got sufficiently fed up with the Carter years. Have we reached another tipping point? We’ll know in 10 more months.

    3. Jonathan Says:

      I don’t think putting dangerous criminals in prison is what most people mean by “statism.” I shed no tears for the collapsed of “criminal justice reform.”

      So you’re OK with felony convictions and sometimes imprisonment for nonviolent drug users, with civil asset forfeiture, with unaccountable prosecutors, with police who get away with murder, with coerced plea bargains, with prison rape, with militarized police, with prosecutions for paperwork violations or malum prohibitum crimes where the accused didn’t have criminal intent? If you oppose any of the things on this not-exhaustive list you support criminal justice reform.

    4. vxxc2014 Says:

      What is essentially the assertion of urban black political power through a campaign of fear, crime, terror just like the 60s through the 90s always had prison reform being the nice white face on BLM. Patsies.

      Jonathan Sir.

      If you fell for any of the non-exhaustive list you were a patsy.

      The prisons are – or were – full of violent offenders put away at the behest of their own communities, Black Congressional Caucus, Charles Rangrel leading the charge. They pled down to “non-violent” offenses – they’re still violent people.

      The war on drugs was a war on Black Crime with Blacks leading the charge.

      I don’t suppose we could see any of these little angels in prison for a bag of weed could we? You know – names, cases that would bear scrutiny?

    5. vxxc2014 Says:

      Frankly I don’t think the Feds are really interested in Libertarians stashes.

      Weed causes paranoia.

      Also apparently long term impairment of judgement. Chicago for instance doesn’t have a problem with too many in prison but too few.

      As for the National Security state when you’re not allowed to kill them and we’re not allowed to win wars now then you get a surveillance state as second prize.

    6. djf Says:

      Jonathan, I oppose reducing prison sentences for dangerous criminals, which includes drug dealers, whether or not they’ve been convicted of a specific violent act. The notion that the prisons are full of nonviolent recreational drug users has been discredited. That I object to certain things on your list does not logically mean I have to support Obama’s plan to reduce sentences for drug dealers.

      Incidentally, prison rape is already against the law. The laws against it should be enforced. Reducing sentences for criminals who belong in jail is not going to solve that problem.

    7. TMLutas Says:

      I’m in favor of not losing track of the goals of the criminal justice system and continuously working to improve the systems used to achieve those goals. I have Second City Cop on my personal list of blogs I read. The fetid mess that is our criminal justice system in reality is crying out for reform. In some cases, punishments should be changed. Sometimes, it might even make sense to lighten them. We don’t have the systems in place to review present practices and, more importantly, the expectation that reviews need to be undertaken regularly.

      It is a travesty that BLM should matter to the regular review of procedures and results in criminal justice.

    8. Jonathan Says:

      Even though I think we should repeal drug prohibition, I might be OK with not reducing drug sentences if we applied them consistently along race and class lines. But we do not, and on this point I agree with Obama.

      We might be able to keep people who have committed violent crimes in prison, and at the same time not tolerate the abuses that were creating a bipartisan consensus for reforms. Regrettably, the BLM/Democratic demagogues and provocateurs, and the tough-on-crime reaction that followed, killed the opportunity.

    9. Roy Says:

      Recall from hi school math iff (if and only if, where something is both a necessary and sufficient condition for something else). It makes sense to repeal (any, part of) drug prohibitions iff the repeal includes changes making responsibility for actions certain.

      How would that look?

      Drive drunk, loose car. On the spot. Period. Doesn’t matter whether it’s your car you’re driving. Kill someone will driving drunk, both de facto and de jur sufficient to result in death sentence. Traffic accident while drunk, complete responsibility for restitution.

      Steal a car, and you will be forced to not only return the car, but pay all costs of finding you, trying you, plus a cost equal to the value of the car you stole (to make up for the opportunity costs, inconvenience costs to the person having their car stolen). Complete responsibility for restitution.

      In short, use drugs at your own risk and expense, not at others’. Restitution protects those others.

      The principle of restitution is where the iff sane response will die. The existence of prisons hinges on bypassing restitution. Imposing restitution implies the right of an injured party results in an enforceable interest in the property and productivity of the injuring party. But that looks like involuntary servitude, doesn’t it? Yep. So we’ll never see actual reform of prisons.

      Instead of meanies paying the bills for their meanness, clearing their debt to victims, they become slaves of the state. Supported slaves at that. In prison they “work” for maybe $10/month. And any productivity they accomplish repays not the victim, but the state. The second clause of Section 1 of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution allows for servitude. But we have it with only the state benefiting.

    10. Gringo Says:

      vxxc2014
      The prisons are – or were – full of violent offenders put away at the behest of their own communities, Black Congressional Caucus, Charles Rangrel leading the charge. They pled down to “non-violent” offenses – they’re still violent people.

      Excellent point. It is often difficult to get witnesses to testify in murder cases. Witnesses want to remain alive. Result: jail the murderer on a lesser charge.

      Which reminds me of the CDC study on gun violence in Wilmington:When Gun Violence Felt Like a Disease, a City in Delaware Turned to the C.D.C.

      “The majority of individuals involved in urban firearm violence are young men with substantial violence involvement preceding the more serious offense of a firearm crime,” the report said. “Our findings suggest that integrating data systems could help these individuals better receive the early, comprehensive help that they need to prevent violence involvement.”

      Instead of finding out that guns kill people, the CDC concluded that violent people use guns to kill people.

      I haven’t done a lot of study on the issue, but I see some conflicting narratives. On the one hand, there is recidivism. People released from prison will often do what put them in prison in the first place. The urge is still there- the prison system just made it impossible to act on the urge. One thing that society can to do reduce recidivism is to give more support to released prisoners, such as assistance in job searches. [But no, a convicted thief should not get an accountant job.] A released prisoner with a job and family support is less likely to reoffend. I wrote less likely- we are dealing in probabilities, not absolute statements. Another narrative is that hotheads in their teens or twenties cool down as they age. To the extent this narrative is true,releasing older prisoners might work. One problem here is that many in this category are in prison for murder, and the families of the victims often want the murderers to die in prison. While it is likely that either Charles Manson or Sirhan Sirhan will not kill any more people if they were released from prison, I want them to die in prison. I therefore would find it difficult to overrule the wishes of the families of victims. Parole boards also find it difficult.

      Probably the way to go is to have each state do what it will, and evaluate. That way a policy mistake will not get repeated nationwide. Similarly, one successful policy change in one state can be replicated in other states. This is an advantage of our federal system- not as Obama wants it, but as it was drawn up.

    11. TMLutas Says:

      Vxxc2014 – I think this is what you’re talking about regarding black support for the drug war:
      http://prisontime.org/2013/08/12/timeline-black-support-for-the-war-on-drugs/

    12. djf Says:

      “Even though I think we should repeal drug prohibition, I might be OK with not reducing drug sentences if we applied them consistently along race and class lines. But we do not, and on this point I agree with Obama.”

      It is easy for social “scientists” with an agenda to gin up racial and class “disparities” in law enforcement by severely limiting the number of variables taken into account in their studies.

      For example, an MD or pharmacist who has a sideline in selling pain medication (or prescriptions for it) illegally is technically a drug trafficker, and should be punished for it. But does that MD or pharmacist present the same danger to society as does the leader of a heavily armed crack-dealing gang in a housing project or the head of a heavily armed meth ring in a depressed rural area? Should a sentencing judge ignore these differences?

    13. PenGun Says:

      Drug crime comes almost exclusively from the laws that make it illegal.

      You have more people in jail than any other civilized country, by far. Perhaps you have problems you have not addressed, oh ‘home of the free’

      Ya think. ;)

    14. Gringo Says:

      PenGun, please critique the following.

    15. PenGun Says:

      It’s flattering to have enough impact that you try to run your talking points express over me, even in an unrelated thread, but it’s pointless to try to reason with those who have made up their minds.

    16. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Pivot and dodge.

    17. Gringo Says:

      PenGun
      It’s flattering to have enough impact that you try to run your talking points express over me, even in an unrelated thread, but it’s pointless to try to reason with those who have made up their minds.

      Point 1: I brought it to your attention because I had not received an answer. Perhaps you were not aware of my previous posting.

      Point 2: your reply shows you do not care to comment about facts which do not fit your narrative. According to you, those who are skeptical about AGW are anti-science people who are denying the facts. Yet when some facts are brought to your attention which do not support your narrative about AGW, you refuse to comment.

      I am reminded of the time that you stated that George Wallace’s “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” [Segregation now…segregation forever”] showed why you had problems with Christianity and with the South. When I pointed out to you that George Wallace had later asked forgiveness from blacks for his having supported segregation, you replied that as a Canadian citizen, you couldn’t be expected to keep up on all that is happening in the US. But your status as a Canadian citizen has never stopped you from commenting on affairs in the US.

      Regarding your comment about prisoners in the US, I am reminded of an old joke where President Carter lectures Chairman Deng Xiaopeng on China’s refusal to open its borders to let Chinese who are opposed to Communism leave China. Deng replies: “How many hundreds of millions do you want?”

      How many inmates of US prisons do you want to emigrate to Canada? How many would you like to host in your neck of the woods? From what I hear, most of them are not very nice people, but I am certain that you will be able to reform them.

      Payaso sos.

    18. PenGun Says:

      “I am reminded of the time that you stated that George Wallace’s “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” [Segregation now…segregation forever”] showed why you had problems with Christianity and with the South. When I pointed out to you that George Wallace had later asked forgiveness from blacks for his having supported segregation, you replied that as a Canadian citizen, you couldn’t be expected to keep up on all that is happening in the US. But your status as a Canadian citizen has never stopped you from commenting on affairs in the US.

      Regarding your comment about prisoners in the US, I am reminded of an old joke where President Carter lectures Chairman Deng Xiaopeng on China’s refusal to open its borders to let Chinese who are opposed to Communism leave China. Deng replies: “How many hundreds of millions do you want?”

      How many inmates of US prisons do you want to emigrate to Canada? How many would you like to host in your neck of the woods? From what I hear, most of them are not very nice people, but I am certain that you will be able to reform them.”

      Well we have quite a few expats here, I know more than a couple. They did not like one of your wars, oh yeah Vietnam. The occupants of your prisons are a result of what you think is useful. It’s quite likely many would fit in here. In my neck of the woods, they do “call a hippie”, the cops are probably doing something more important.

      I comment on religious, philosophical and scientific grounds, nearly always. The intricacies of your system are enough that you can disagree as to meaning among yourselves, and then use them to beat on each other. A popular American form of, perhaps, debate. No one here has any trouble with commenting, derisively in many cases, on any other country in the world. I shall do the same.

      I am not a christian and hold the peoples of the book responsible for much of the horror that has occurred since their inception. These are patriarchal control systems and are nearly always are used to unite people to kill other people.

    19. newrouter Says:

      peeps who use “patriarchy” in an argument are mind numb robots.

    20. Gringo Says:

      Like I said, payaso sos.

    21. Jonathan Says:

      Drug crime comes almost exclusively from the laws that make it illegal.

      I agree with Pengun on this point. Drug prohibition has been a disaster as was alcohol prohibition. The violent drug dealers would probably be violent people in any case, but without the high returns to dealing drugs that come from illegality today’s drug dealers would have fewer lucrative criminal employment options. There would also be less corruption of police and other municipal officials. There are already adequate laws to prosecute violent criminals.

      Roy: I’ll take you seriously when you suggest that texting drivers who cause fatal accidents be executed. There are also issues with due process in some of your suggestions. There is also the general objection that if you mandate draconian punishments you will deter a lot of beneficial activity by people who fear being punished harshly for innocent mistakes, and most likely your rules will not be enforced consistently, which is a major problem with our current legal system.

      TMLutas: Thanks for the link.

      Djf: Why not punish people directly for violent crime instead of treating drug dealing as a proxy? If witnesses won’t testify perhaps that’s a law-enforcement failing rather than a good reason to expand the scope of what’s illegal. Not all drug dealers are violent, but all muggers and murderers are.

      And yes, of course, I realize that prison rape is illegal. The problem is that prisons tolerate it in some cases, and in other cases are unsuccessful at preventing it (and at preventing other types of violence). I think eliminating such abuses is a worthy political goal, as is prosecutorial reform and the other reforms that I mentioned (and no doubt others).

    22. Gringo Says:

      PenGun:
      No one here has any trouble with commenting, derisively in many cases, on any other country in the world. I shall do the same.
      You ignored my point about the Wallace discussion. When I pointed out that your statement about Wallace showed that you were woefully ignorant about him, such as his later asking forgiveness, you replied that as you were not a US citizen, you shouldn’t be expected to know all the details about the US. Which means that the above should be modified:
      “No one here has any trouble with commenting, derisively in many cases, on any other country in the world. I shall do the same, and if I show my utter ignorance about the US, that’s OK because after all I am Canadian and shouldn’t be expected to know little details about the US which invalidate my point. My derisive comments about the US need not be based on facts because after all I am not a US citizen, but a Canadian.”

      I comment on religious, philosophical and scientific grounds, nearly always.
      As you were asked to comment on the prediction a SCIENTIST made in the Independent article and didn’t, we need to modify your statement: “I comment on religious, philosophical and scientific grounds, nearly always, but I won’t when I am asked to comment on facts that contradict my narrative.”
      I also note that your comments on the Early Snapshots of the Blizzard posting were mostly confined to calling others “Luddites” or “anti-scientific.” Such profound comments, doncha’ know? It takes a really profound philosopher- or a really profound scientist- to throw those words around. Yeah, right. The utilization of buzzwords does not constitute a reasoned argument.

      Your utter refusal to comment as requested on the Independent article indicates to me that you have no confidence in your powers of reasoning. At least you are being realistic.

      Ciao.

    23. djf Says:

      Jonathan, you seem like a well-meaning person, but you strike me as naïve about the criminal justice system. The authorities try drug dealers on the charges for which they have sufficient evidence to put before a jury – that does not mean the drug dealers have not committed numerous other criminal acts. Further, as others have noted, charges are often reduced – sometimes all the way down to mere drug possession – through plea-bargaining to avoid the uncertainty, expense and delay of trial (for both sides). I would also add that juries not infrequently, out of misplaced sympathy for the accused, arbitrarily acquit on the top charge in a multi-charge case, notwithstanding strong evidence of guilt. Given all of this, it is a good idea to authorize long sentences for drug dealing and possession of large amounts of drugs.

      I have read that some of the drug felons whose sentences the squalid person in the White House commuted with much fanfare last month, on the theory that the poor dears were “nonviolent,” had actually been caught with large arsenals of weapons, and their convictions on lesser charges were the result of plea bargaining. Meanwhile, the federal government has set off on a lunatic crusade against an imaginary “culture of rape” on college campuses. If you agree with this administration about something, it’s probably a sign that you should rethink your position on that issue.

      I completely agree that prison rape is a national disgrace that should be addressed, but that issue has nothing to do with the question of whether prison sentences for drug crimes should be reduced.

    24. Roy Says:

      Jonathan said: I’ll take you seriously when you suggest that texting drivers who cause fatal accidents be executed.

      Roy: I’m open to that as a possible outcome, just as I would be for death resulting from any behavior that one can reasonably expect risks another person’s life. I grant there exist many legal issues beyond my expertise. Perhaps there might result a range of possible outcome weighed against various evidences. Maybe manslaughter vs murder, or something about first, second, third degree with associated differences in penalty. I don’t hold for a specific conclusion. Instead, I’m encouraging laws which expect responsibility for one’s choices.

      Jonathan: There are also issues with due process in some of your suggestions.

      Roy: Agreed. Yet those are exactly the sorts of issues for which we elect leaders and consult experts and have written laws.

      Jonathan: There is also the general objection that if you mandate draconian punishments you will deter a lot of beneficial activity by people who fear being punished harshly for innocent mistakes, and most likely your rules will not be enforced consistently, which is a major problem with our current legal system.

      Roy: I don’t take DUIs as innocent mistakes. I don’t take cocaine induced violent activity as innocent. As to consistent enforcement, agreed: never will have a perfect system, must always seek the impossible-to-achieve objective of equal treatment before the law.

    25. Jonathan Says:

      Before drug prohibition the USA did not lack for laws to punish violent criminals. Are the benefits of drug prohibition so substantial as to justify the rejection of political compromises that could reform some of the most egregious failings of our current criminal justice system?

      I agree that it would be wise to initiate any reforms on a state rather than federal basis.

    26. djf Says:

      Jonathan, you can argue that drug legalization would decrease the violent crime associated with the drug trade, but that’s not what the recent “criminal justice reform” proposed. As I understand it, the proposal was not to decriminalize drug trafficking and possession but to reduce the penalties for those crimes. Even if you’re right that decriminalization of drugs would significantly reduce drug related violent crime at a non-prohibitive cost in terms of other bad effects of drug use (e.g. widespread addiction), keeping the same crimes on the books but reducing the penalties for them is not the same thing.

    27. vxxc2014 Says:

      We can’t live like this anymore, and we can’t live like this again for those of you who remember the bad old days, in particular as gentrification has pushed The Problem into the suburbs.

      Never mind the Law then.

      Back to Rope.

      Until we get sensible laws, which means our own laws back. Our power back to us.

      The Laws being outside our hands was a terrible mistake. Simply put Americans cannot share power with Others, anymore than French, English or Germans can.

      We may share rights but there cannot be a right to power. That must be held by the natural people of any nation.