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  • Police vs Prisons

    Posted by David Foster on June 16th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Here’s an interesting piece suggesting that there is a tradeoff between spending on police and spending on prisons.  It is claimed that money diverted from prisons to policing buys at least 4x the reduction in crime.  Apparently, on a per-capita basis the US now employees 35% fewer police than the world average…an interesting data point given the current calls for police defunding.

     

    19 Responses to “Police vs Prisons”

    1. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      I don’t dispute this. But as the psych hospitals emptied because of deinstitutionalisation, the prison population grew by the same amount, which eventually stabilised the last twenty years.

      In the discussions of improving policing in general rather than trying to assume racism that needs to be fixed with pointless trainings, I suggest that diverting a solid percentage of the calls – I have seen numbers from 15-30% – to mental health crisis professional would do a lot of good, and more good for African-Americans than whites or hispanics.

    2. BobtheRegisterredFool Says:

      There’s allegedly a couple of practical limits on recruitment of police.

      One is that only so much of the population has the qualities that you want. Recruiting that must look beyond that pool is less suited in personality and aptitude, so less efficient and less effective at getting the job done without brutality.

      Other is how much work load from criminals. More workload, more burning out and using up the work force. Higher work force turn over, more need to recruit replacements outside of that ideal pool.

      If policing has such a significant rate of decreasing imprisonment, this might actually explain some of the disparate imprisonment rates. I had already believed that attempting to minimize racism in policing was actually having harmfully racist effects, so I may simply be believing something that agrees with what I expect.

      Of course, I’m most interested in cost effectiveness comparison with capital punishment.

    3. Christopher B Says:

      I recently read a brief blurb that claimed ‘stop and frisk’ was the low-cost alternative to community-oriented policing adopted in NYC as the post-9/11 budget crunch hit the NYPD. So rather than defund the police, people who want more responsive and less violent policing should probably increase funding for them.

      I think I see where you’re going with calling mental health professionals but I think two or maybe three things cut against that solution. The first is that we’ve criminalized behavior that could be dealt with in that way so the laws are going to have to change first. I’m thinking specifically of relationship disputes where it’s often mandatory, either by law or by policy, to take somebody to jail if an assault is suspected or alleged. The second is that in some situations you’re going to reach point where the situation turns into law enforcement, and it can happen fast. By one report on the recent shooting in Atlanta, the officers interacted with the man for approximately an hour but the time span from when he was told he was going to be taken into custody until the shooting was less than a minute. The last is that regardless of what you call them, people who are authorized by the State to compel you to do things you don’t want to do are ‘police’ and eventually all the complaints about disparate treatment are going to be focused on them, too.

    4. Kingsnake Says:

      At the rate things are going, liberals won’t need to defund the police, the police will defund themselves. And I wouldn’t blame them (the cops) in the least …

    5. Mike K Says:

      I agree with AVI on the mental health thing. If mental hospitals reopened (or were created), the prison population would fall as much as 30%. The homeless population would drop by half, assuming of course, that the Social Science people living off them would allow that.

      Like so many things, teachers’ unions, cancer research, crime, we have a principal agent problem. My old surgery professor used to say “More people are living off cancer than dying from it.”

    6. Roy Kerns Says:

      AVI, Mike, you have just described mental hospitals as prisons by another name. Both end up providing support (room and board) for some at the expense of others.

      Prisons replace/deny responsibility via restitution/reconciliation, restrict productivity (ponder the implications of the 13 Amendment and think for a few moments about whether slavery is competitive), leave prisoners forever 2nd class citizens.

      Regarding mental hospitals, no agreement exists as to what’s going on. Nobody knows how to define either the problems inmates/patients have/choose to display nor what constitutes “mental health” much less how to accomplish a change from the former to the latter. There might exist some agreement about descriptions or labels (usually with either Greek-sounding sophistication or else with tongue-in-cheek snark). But nobody knows/agrees on how come people “are like that” (is it determined/genetic? cultural/familial/taught/learned?). For that matter, are they like that? or do they choose that behavior? Nor does anybody agree on “what to do”. Ironically, huge incentives exist to avoid any detailed description of defined goals, ie, what constitutes progress, especially if it had anything at all about how to measure progress (read “determine if the treatment plan actually accomplished anything”). Defined goals, especially those connected to steps to get to the goals, would mean that someone could evaluate the performance of those providing “treatment”.

    7. Jonathan Says:

      At the rate things are going, liberals won’t need to defund the police, the police will defund themselves.

      I guess this is happening already through increased police job turnover in the worst run cities. Who wants to be a police officer in Chicago, Minneapolis or Seattle?

      From the Tabarrok piece: Demilitarize the police, end the war drugs, regulate people less, restrain police unions and eliminate qualified immunity so that police brutality can be punished and the bad apples removed and the demand for police will soar.

      That seems reasonable.

    8. pouncer Says:

      Bob says: … only so much of the population has the qualities that you want. Recruiting that must look beyond that pool is less suited in personality and aptitude, so less efficient and less effective at getting the job done without brutality.

      Not as a complete solution to that real problem but as a step toward a solution of TWO real problems: Raise the retirement age for current policemen.

      Dangerous Old Men fulfill a vital function in most civilized societies. And we don’t necessarily want young men seeking to prove themselves out in the battle alone. A man of long experience who can see a fight coming and knows how to (a) avoid it if possible and (b) end it very quickly when necessary is worth keeping on payroll.

      Keeping a valuable employee on payroll rather than shifting his costs (and health insurance premiums) to the already stressed civic pension system is itself a no-brainer.

    9. Mike K Says:

      But nobody knows/agrees on how come people “are like that” (is it determined/genetic? cultural/familial/taught/learned?). For that matter, are they like that? or do they choose that behavior? Nor does anybody agree on “what to do”.

      Oh, anybody who deals with them knows. This is mainly a myth. There is enough anti-psychiatry feeling around to stop the solution. Anybody who questions this should read “My Brother, Ron.”

      Some may prefer the street for the mentally ill but please don’t try to convince me they are better off than in an institution where they have a bed and three meals a day. This is a cost of civilization, just as prisons are, but mental institutions are much cheaper.

      Ending qualified immunity for cops is OK but I would suggest it end for prosecutors, too. Most of the injustice regarding prisons is not race. It is plea bargaining.

    10. David Foster Says:

      AVI…” I suggest that diverting a solid percentage of the calls – I have seen numbers from 15-30% – to mental health crisis professional would do a lot of good”

      But how often can you tell in advance if the call has a significant possibility of turning violent?

    11. David Foster Says:

      Registered Fool…”only so much of the population has the qualities that you want. Recruiting that must look beyond that pool is less suited in personality and aptitude, so less efficient and less effective at getting the job done without brutality.”

      The size of the pool also depends on how many people *want* the job, and that factor depends on things like pay & benefits, of course, but also, very significantly, on the level of esteem in which the profession is held. And recent events are likely to make recruiting much more difficult.

      See latest post here, from a police officer’s wife.

      You will see people slander your husband by giving testimony that they had a single bad experience with a police officer, and try to make others believe all of them are like that. They’ll readily provide this covert form of false testimony against 1,000’s of men and women they don’t even know; you will see this and yes, of course, it will rightfully anger you.

      I wonder how many potential police brides are motivated by the current atmosphere to work at persuading their prospective husbands to do something else? Or to walk away completely?

    12. Mike K Says:

      I wonder how many potential police brides are motivated by the current atmosphere to work at persuading their prospective husbands to do something else? Or to walk away completely?

      I wish my sister had done this years ago. Her husband had an MA in Public Administration. He could have gotten a job in a small city near Chicago. Daley required all cops and firemen to live in the city limits. He finally gave up on the sergeants’ exam because no white officers were being promoted.

      I talked to her today and she told me that a policeman’s wife was walking her dog about a mile away and was attacked by a black man because her dog had a collar with the checked pattern that police have on their hats in Chicago. She is caring for her disabled husband, who had a serious stroke 15 years ago. She is 79 and should not be having to do that but the virus keeps the healthcare workers away. That plus Lightfoot’s rules.

    13. Anonymous Says:

      Cops are subject to criminal prosecution as well as administrative disciplinary actions for misdeeds. Given the speed and chaos many of these violent encounters exhibit, personal liability for reacting imperfectly (viewed in hind sight) is a non-starter. Such a law would result in rampant fetal policing. If you don’t have an interaction, you can’t be second-guessed.

      Who would do policing knowing that under preponderance of evidence or proportional liability everything you own, your family owns or will ever own could be taken in a civil action? How would you even afford a creditable defense if the progressive cop hating non-profits come after you and you happen to be the wrong race? There are already too many cops curled up waiting for their pensions. They have already figured out if you take no action, you can’t get in any serious mistake. Personal liability would finish it off in these blue islands of no cash bail, automatic probation, early release and prosecutional discretion for whole classes of crime. Sure I’d take a chance and try to arrest a DUI offender with a record passed out in his car.

      Death6

    14. Kingsnake Says:

      Like I said …

    15. Kingsnake Says:

      Death6 … The cops in Milwaukee took no action, letting Konarak Sinthasamphon (sp?) go back with his gay lover. Of course, Jeff Dahmer than killed and ate him. And they got in trouble. So even inaction and sensitivity to cultures one does not understand, will STILL get a cop in trouble. If you are a cop, it is lose-lose …

    16. Kirk Says:

      We got to where we’re at today through hundreds of thousands of unnoticed little steps taken on both sides of the line between chaos and order.

      Getting back to the place we thought we were at back during some imagined “golden age” of comity and good law enforcement ain’t going to happen, because that place is entirely imaginary. Things have always been FUBAR, it is just that it was at least tolerable. Now that all this crap is coming out into the open, it isn’t tolerable any more.

      Law enforcement has gone over the top, and damn near made itself over into a parody of a police state–But, here’s the kicker: We asked for it, enabled it, and have as much responsibility for it as the police do.

      What cracks me up about it all is that the same set of assholes that got Nixon to start the “War on drugs” are now the ones protesting when that war came home to them. Nobody remembers that the various “black leaders” went to the White House and demanded that Nixon “do something” about the drug problem in their communities. Well, he damn sure “did something”, and now here we are. Root problem that BLM is protesting? The raw facts of black criminality. What they really want is impossible, because you can’t have both your nice law-abiding lives, and then magically not prosecute or punish the various black malefactors screwing those lives up. They want both–Crack down on criminality, and don’t do anything to the criminals. That simply isn’t possible, and until the black community wakes the fuck up and starts dealing with their own problems, well… Here we are.

      As delusional as these people are, I am really coming around to the idea that they’re congenitally unable to participate in a modern society in anything other than a marginal sense. You simply cannot say “we want to live nice, decent lives…”, and then shout from the rooftops “Snitches get stitches! Black lives matter!” when your minority of a minority population is committing crimes at the level it is. Most blacks are killed not by whites or the cops, but by other blacks, to the point where it becomes ridiculous to even begin talking about how much those lives matter. I’ll start taking BLM seriously when they start taking all the dead blacks killed in black-on-black violence, and no sooner. Until then, they’re a mob of ignorance filled up with propaganda and stupidity.

      Hell, if BLM was serious about saving black lives, they’d be advocating for putting more killers of blacks into prison and on to death row…

    17. MCS Says:

      The idea of spending money to prevent problems rather than correct, or in this case, punish them is attractive. Increasing the number of police on the streets would probably both reduce the stress on officers and prevent some of the abuses by providing greater visibility and fewer one on one confrontations.

      On the other hand, that assumes that higher spending results in more cops on the streets. The truth is that police departments are just as prone as any other government department to spend additional funds on “other”.

      I noticed that Illinois had the highest ratio of police to corrections, nearly Euroesque. I don’t find that a compelling example. I also noticed that there were no examples from South or Central America or Canada. All have an ethnic mixture much closer to ours than anyplace in Europe. Most Americans consider European sentencing far to lenient as well.

      One of the things I have only rarely heard any discussion of is how eliminating the use of batons has caused the use of force to actually escalate. This is especially true when an officer is confronted with a knife. Where the baton would allow them to engage from a outside the range of the assailant, they now have to choose between grappling and shooting, with nothing in between. A lot of shootings come from assailants trying to grab a gun where a baton would be used to hold them an very important couple of feet further away. Batons have obviously been misused in the past and would be again but only rarely fatally.

      I simply have no faith that the money would be used effectively. There was a story a few days ago that the NYPD was reassigning 600 anti-crime plain-clothes officers to other divisions. I had been under the impression that the whole NYPD was an anti-crime organization. The story went on to assure us that this wouldn’t mean any more police actually on the street.

    18. Mike K Says:

      One of the things I have only rarely heard any discussion of is how eliminating the use of batons has caused the use of force to actually escalate.

      The Rodney King case was a result of an LAPD ban on choke holds and recommended batons as an alternative. Melanie Singer, a CHP cop, was ready to shoot King when the LAPD arrived and took him down with batons resulting in no serious injury to him and prison sentences for them.

      She testified against them in trial, then retired on stress disability.

    19. Mike-SMO Says:

      The problem is that the “911” calls are the way that all the significant problems/failures get handled. Any procedure that was effective will lead to chaos in the next call. Everything is a “fringe case” involving state authority and a very real possibility of violence. In Saint Louis, a retired police Captain/Chief tried the “grandfatherly” approach to looters and was left to die in the street. The Soviets showed that “mental institutions” can be a very useful means to destroy any political opposition.

      Anything useful as a tool is useful as a weapon.

      In the U.S., there is the entanglement that the Afro-American community is the source of much of the violent crime but any effort to deal with the violent individuals is viewed as a racist attack on that community due to “disparate impact”.

      As long as race and political power are the focus of the struggle, there is no way to address troubled individuals that doesn’t lead to dramatic headlines and “disturbing” video.

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