One group "increased incarceration" definitely has a non-marginal positive impact on are all-of-the-above.
Can you show me any examples, anywhere in history, where a group that directly benefits from and controls the entry level and duration of access have ever decided to lower their wages and put at jeopardy their livelihoods?
Because at the heart of it, that's the real effect that decreasing incarceration will have...closing jails, firing police officers, lowering ridiculous attorney fees, and shutting down county court complexes.
And we are surprised when the very people whom benefit from the status quo don't see things the way we do?
I'm not a southerner. I'm certainly no Floridian. But I strongly suspect that's not a "coincidence". I think the current system was likely set up as a political "gimme" meant to appease Southerners.
The only difference is that here in Wisconsin we know that our government is corrupt, and because of the corruption here there is little we can do to combat that corruption. I mean we have everything from Walker, to little boys being used for sex at Lincoln Hills, to out and out DA's who are crime lords. (Literally, a few years back there was a DA who would take "donations" to "charity" from drug runners. They would actually divert shipments to go through his jurisdiction because if you get caught all you had to do was pay the "donation". It was really bad.)
I'm pretty sure if you were to ask the average Wisconsinite, they would openly admit much of the corruption up here. Not only with crime, or blacks, but with money, with land, with everything basically. Why do you think we have protests with hundreds of thousands of people showing up? It's not just Walker, at least in my opinion it's not. It's the system that people feel he represents and defends.
By contrast, in Florida, I get the sense that people think that's the way things are supposed to work. They believe they have a good system and that the system works the way God intended.
It depends who you ask. I've only lived in Florida for 40 years but I find it split in thirds with 1/3 willing to tolerate Tallahassee corruption and crumbling infrastructure as the price of low taxation while the other 2/3 are appalled but don't or can't vote.
There also seems to be more political homogeneity.
For instance, the loophole in the 13th.
Which, but for it's existence, would not have allowed "...Southerners to give effect to their desires..."
The South really exploited that allowance as a replacement for chattel slavery, though, but they did that with every power state governments were not explicitly denied (and, because of the lack of substantive enforcement of much of the 14th Amendment for nearly a century after the Civil War, many which they were explicitly denied.)
Are you seriously proposing that the loophole in the 13th was not placed there as a consolation to Southerners? I mean let's be frank here, the entire issue of slavery in the Northwest Ordinance was a compromise to Southerners. It wouldn't have passed otherwise. Fast forward to the end of the Civil War, and they chose the compromise in the Northwest Ordinance instead of the Sumner Amendment for the same reasons. Sumner's Amendment didn't even make it out of committee.
I don't see how anyone can say that slave states have not had an outsized influence on the slavery question as it is practiced in the US. They've had that influence, in my opinion, since our inception. It, (slavery), really was almost one of the original questions we had to answer at the founding of our Republic.
Imagine if Britain had been the one drafting the 13th amendment, at the same point in history. Removing this language would have meant giving up on the penal labor colony known as Australia. America was—not as famously—doing exactly the same thing.
Why would we have cared what Britain was doing?
They were our cold enemy during the Civil War. (At least, they were the cold enemy if you were on the Union side.)
What the rest of the world was doing was irrelevant to how the 13th was drafted. The war would be won. Slaves would be freed. The only questions we were considering was how to put that all down on paper. And for that question, the only thing that mattered was domestic politics.
The "loophole" is, to put it in modern terms, a concession to the American penal-labor-colony industry lobby. (Well, not really, since we didn't have private prisons back then. All the work being done by US penal labor colonies was directly to the productive benefit of the US government.)
In fact, even a review of the Congressional Record, which I had the misfortune of having to do on these very two questions for a Capstone project back in undergrad, makes that very clear. It's obviously been a very long time, and the material involved was voluminous, but I can't recall offhand any mention of the penal labor industry. The debate was dominated by appeals to interests and even feelings of slave states.
> Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted[...]
The current system is absolutely a political gimme to appease the south, or at the very least the south of the past.
The UN ILO should have IMO effectively abolished US labor camps in 1957 with resolution 105 . It bans among other things its use "as a method of mobilizing and using labour for purposes of economic development." As such prisoners in the US can be loaned out to private enterprise, an argument should be made. Not to mention, forget immigrants, nothing undercuts wages payable to US workers quite like slave labor.
I actually can't see why the US system isn't in violation of resolution 29 in 1930 where forced labor is only permitted when under "supervision and control of a public authority and that the person carrying it out is not hired to or placed at the disposal of private individuals, companies or associations." 
When your system is "universally condemned" by the United Nations, maybe it's time for another look?
The question we're debating is why they are legal in the US. My theory is that the government made them legal to appease Southerners after the Civil War. Some people disagree, but the evidence in terms of the Congressional record of the time definitely points to a deal to appease Southerners.
The Nixon Southern strategy was not to appease only Southerners. It was to appease the ignorant. Bigots with malice in mind.
It's worth listening to the Lee Atwater interview he didn't want released until he died. They had a vile plan, they put it into action, it was successful, and it's still happening. And such ideas and policies are far worse than just a word that begins with the letter n.
It didn't; this is indisputable, because they existed and were legal, both in and out of the South, before the Civil War.
You could argue that they were not outlawed at the time chattel slavery was in order to mitigate the imposition on the South being done by the Civil War amendments (13-15), but that's implausible for a number of reasons, but most notably that being punitive was major feature of th Civil War Amendments, the cooling to punitive measures and accommodationist approach to the South didn't take long to appear after they were imposed, but it was a later thing.
> the evidence in terms of the Congressional record of the time
Specific citations would be welcome.
Race baiting incited draft riots in the north. Low wage labor was very much threatened by the prospect of freed slaves migrating.
Prison labor isn’t a uniquely American institution and IMO was less about appeasing southerners and more about practical management of prisons.
Not that this is a valid point anyway, but not none.
> None of the prisons I have toured have anyone working who doesn't want too
Your anecdote is not data. Forced labor absolutely exists in US prisons.
Once it's big business there's a huge finical and employment incentive to keep the machine running no matter who's running it. Some might say that privatising prisons would even make it worse.
It's hard to stop a multi-billion dollar industry but what the prison system is doing to our population is not OK.
In the US, the prison system is also used to deal with mental illness, unemployment and homelessness.
See NYC for how that works:
1., Create a zero tolerance policy
2., Invest in high police coverage
3., Arrest people on small stuff, like public intoxication, urination, etc.
4., Three strikes is a compounding factor, so three small things and boom, you're off the streets for years.
Now, is this for societies greater good? Is NYC overall a better, safer place for poor people? No easy answers there.
I don't think reducing prison time would necessarily result in all of those. Closing jails perhaps, but it's possible such a thing would require more police and county court bandwidth, not fewer.
That said, I believe non-violent offenders should never be put in jail. Give them mountains of community service or some other more productive remedy. If it's financial crime, freeze their ability to access the financial system. But sending them to jail is more likely to make them more effective and more hardened criminals.
Not to mention the court systems and police work are already incredibly backed up in many jurisdictions.
So how do we stop people from constantly stealing our stuff?
Ideally, lowering everything about the criminal system is a net good at all levels. Politicians and government are the ones who control expenditure levels along with what is defined as a crime.
Collectively, with would suit all levels of citizenry and government to raise threshold of what constitutes a "Crime", along with massive reduction of forces across all levels. However the first politician to 'defect' and recommend this gets lambasted as being "Weak On Crime". Unfortunately for the politician, it only takes a single person who was let out early and commit some assault/robbery/rape/murder to then show the 'evils and horribleness' of said politician.
Quote from the Slate Star Codex:
For example, ever-increasing prison terms are unfair to inmates and unfair to the society that has to pay for them. Politicans are unwilling to do anything about them because they don’t want to look “soft on crime”, and if a single inmate whom they helped release ever does anything bad (and statistically one of them will have to) it will be all over the airwaves as “Convict released by Congressman’s policies kills family of five, how can the Congressman even sleep at night let alone claim he deserves reelection?”. So even if decreasing prison populations would be good policy – and it is – it will be very difficult to implement.
Florida, for example (where I am from), is a retirement state mostly. You know what retirees reliably vote for? Fucking hard-ass law and order so they can drink their booze and eat their prescription dope without the fear of being robbed.
I see no chance that any politicians can ever win in Florida with a message of "soft on crime", so its depressing to think that this crap and injustice justice will ever be fixed.
And you know...it's hard to blame them for wanting that. They have worked their asses off their whole lives and now want to live the remaining years feeling safe.
And yes...the "one bad apple" metaphor always rears it's old ugly head when it comes to this topic. Hell, I've lived in the Florida DC and I personally saw inmates who would enjoy busting up any new "liberal" program as long as it got them an extra cigarette or a can of soda.
They literally couldn't give a fuck about anyone but themselves at that moment, and see any program that may be put in place to help inmates as security-bypass vectors that are to be exploited as soon as possible.
Want to really reduce prison populations? Take a hard look at the drug and sex offender laws. That might mean not locking up the meth dealer or rapist, but that is what reducing the prison population means: living with the knowledge that such people will not be entombed far away. That fear is the real issue underpinning the problem.
However, a lot of prison reform policy suggestions would result in increased costs, while making the prison system more humane.
These higher cost prison reform policies haven't been put into place, which sort of discredits the assertion that lack of prison reform is primarily driven by misaligned incentives.
Random. When your recidivism rate exceeds 50%, you might as well flip a coin at sentencing to decide whether they go to jail or not; will likely be just as effective as the current system.
How will it so any of these things? People will still be arrested and prosecuted for committing crimes. Its the incarceration vs alternative actions and programs that is being discussed here. Prisons would certainly be affected, but they aren't even in your list.
While it's true that prisons could be shut. Its also true that a whole new rehabilitation industry could spring up if alternatives to long term incarceration were enacted.
Obviously as you change the crime and the task and the wages, peoples perceptions change. Which is fun, non?
Of course, substance possession and other victimless crimes are the useful place to begin.
And it’s crucial to differentiate between privatized prison labor and state prison labor. Privatizing human rights raises a major moral discrepancy as it stands. Profiteering of human rights with forced labor is a fair definition of slavery in my view.
Your argument concerns justice, though. Following emancipation, no time was lost in instituting the strong prison labor system the South known for. When there’s a profit motive, the entire system of justice becomes contentious. If seeking to get murderers off the streets (something I support) it’s critical we not conflate that civic duty with profiteering motives, lest we become the demon, or at least hypocrites. Of course, we popularly criticize the Soviet Gulag system on these same terms, among others.
There’s more, too. Getting a murderer off the streets is a categorically different goal from inflicting punishment or vengance. Getting a murderer off the streets is an easy decision. Punishing them is also widely supported, but still categorically different. If we intend a moral system, we must differentiate and actively acknowledge the difference.
After the Rwandan genocide and even in reaction to the residential school system in Canada, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions were set up to focus on the justice and prevention elements of the triangle and explicitly pass on retribution. 
The US system focuses, IMO, almost solely on vengeance to the detriment of prevention. The US has one of the highest recidivism rates in the entirely world at 75%, so if your goal is to stop people from doing it again, the US system is an abject failure. If you want to enslave and torture, it works great. Norway focuses on justice and prevention, and as a result, has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world, at 20% .
The standard term for that is “incapacitation”; “justice” is more ambiguous.
> stopping more murders (prevention).
“prevention” is usually broken down into “incapacitation” and “deterrence”.
Incarceration is 100% effective for what America wants it to achieve: penance.
The Nordic model works in Norway because of Norway's society and culture. It wouldn't work in US, or South Africa or El Salvador because of what level of violence is deemed acceptable in those countries.
You can try to transpose the Nordic model in US all you want it is not going to work because these are different societies bound by different civil contracts and cultures.
Plenty of societies and countries have a prison system that doesn't focus on rehabilitation,at all, yet the level of violence is still inferior to US by a long shot.
Which other societies can you point to that don't have prison systems that focus on rehabilitation? Do you have data that shows their recidivism rates are lower?
People don't want to be criminals, they want to live, but they don't all know how.
Clearly the system you advocate is an abject failure at preventing crime, maybe it's time to open yourself up to new processes? It literally can't get much worse.
I advocated for nothing, if you read my message I'm not saying one system is better than the other. I'm just saying adopting the nordic model isn't going to work with a society with such a level of violence like the USA.
> People don't want to be criminals, they want to live, but they don't all know how.
Plenty of people want to make money the easiest way possible, and if it involves committing crimes like murdering people they'll do that. You are assuming everybody is like you and follow basic humanism. Well some don't.
And of course some people have severe criminality issues but IMO those should be treated. Even treated as mental health issues.
edit to add, I'm not sure you can call the Canadian trail a copy of "the nordic system" but it is similar to it in that it focuses on rehab rather than punishment. I like to think you could adapt from "the nordic system" to make it work in the us.
And of course those rates are just within 3 years. They get much higher over time. The US is relatively unique in that we have a relatively large population of individuals that seem to resist all efforts at stopping them from engaging in crime. This is not really a problem in places like Scandinavia. The absolute and utter failure of rehabilitation driven systems further emphasizes the difference. For further statistics and information on various sorts of data related to prison, prisoners, recidivism, and so on you check out the Bureau of Justice Statistics . Their page is loaded with all the information you could ever want.
In my opinion the major problem is once a culture develops around criminality it becomes practically impossible to detach the criminality from the culture, as resisting reform becomes part of the culture. I grew up in this very culture and it's quite clear that people talking about reformation just have not been around this very much at all. Prison is not seen as game over. It's just another part of the game, and prison time is worn as a badge of honor once people are out, as it shows how 'hard' they are, and gains instant respect.
For instance have you ever thought about how completely idiotic resisting arrest is? You're not going to do anything except add years to your sentence, and get either beat down or killed in the process of it. But the reason people do this is again because it shows how 'hard' they are. You or I might be thinking 'Well how can I minimize my prison time and get back to real life?' so we would never behave this way, and then engage in all sorts of mental gymnastics to try to explain why somebody else would. But the issue is that we're not part of this culture, and to understand why things the way they are you really have to live through it. In that culture prison is just a regular part of what we'd call 'real life' so this sort of loss minimization calculus simply does not exist.
The more important question then is where did this culture come from, how did it emerge and spread, and how could that be stopped in the future? But that's an entirely different topic.
 - https://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/nyregion/pennsylvania-stu...
 - https://bjs.gov/
If someone grabs your wrist and yanks you off balance - guess what, you're probably going to try to resist them if only to not fall over. Likewise humans are not perfectly rational beings - if someone runs towards you and you're already scared, you're going to start to run. This isn't because you somehow played out a competent mental calculus on your chances of escaping, it's because you're an animal with instincts.
Hell, this effect is counted on in martial arts - if you want someone to move, push them the opposite way.
The issue is that "resisting arrest" has grown to be a vague charge that encapsulates everything from people outright fighting police officers to people who are scared and trying to not get knocked off balance.
And these hypotheticals are part of the mental gymnastics I mentioned. This isn't to say that your hypotheticals have not happened, but if they do happen they represent an incredibly tiny fraction of all incidents - whereas you are implicitly suggesting they make up some meaningful percent of incidents. It's like somebody charged with breaking and entering who somehow genuinely thought he was getting into his own house after having forgot his keys. I'm sure that's probably happened, but that says absolutely nothing about the very near 100% of cases where this is not what happened.
In this comparison, the virtue of each institution has been blindly discarded in favor of highlighting the substantial failures of both. That is -- "Because both institutions have failed at achieving their intent, neither institution appears to be capable of achieving a good result."
If we were to include the virtue designated by each approach then it should be clear to see the short term & long term differences between incarceration and rehabilitation.
> And of course those rates are just within 3 years. They get much higher over time.
Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
In response to the opinion you've stated:
> In my opinion the major problem is once a culture develops around criminality it becomes practically impossible to detach the criminality from the culture, as resisting reform becomes part of the culture.
In response to the assertion you've made:
> Prison is not seen as game over. It's just another part of the game, and prison time is worn as a badge of honor once people are out, as it shows how 'hard' they are, and gains instant respect.
And in response to the questions you've raised:
> The more important question then is where did this culture come from, how did it emerge and spread, and how could that be stopped in the future?
Reformation as an act is a change of system and not a change in culture. Reformation will lead to a favorable cultural shift if and only if the system effectively addresses the needs of the individuals within the culture.
1. Anything less than reformation is utter neglect.
2. Accompanying neglect is malnutrition.
3. Cultures don't develop with criminality as an end all be all. Cultures develop with nutrition as an end all be all.
> The US is relatively unique in that we have a relatively large population of individuals that seem to resist all efforts at stopping them from engaging in crime.
What "population of individuals" are you talking about?
> This is not really a problem in places like Scandinavia.
Why do you think this isn't a problem in places like Scandinavia? What is different about Scandinavia?
What is an example of a culture which is attached to criminality?
> But the issue is that we're not part of this culture, and to understand why things the way they are you really have to live through it. In that culture prison is just a regular part of what we'd call 'real life' so this sort of loss minimization calculus simply does not exist.
What culture are you talking about? Which people are part of this culture?
Your comment clearly has a point of view which stated plainly would make it hard to defend. Dog-whistling.
currently, the american judicial/penal system seems to have the opposite effect. I dare say a underlying factor has to do with prisons being profit-driven, which is essentially a incentive for them to not rehabilitate inmates (cause then they wouldn't have repeat "customers"!)
you say yourself that it's different in Scandinavia. Why is it so? the culture is different, sure, but not THAT different. We do have criminal gangs here, though to a lesser extent to be sure. how come?
I suggest the reason to be that rehabilitation of criminal works, whereas incarceration does not. There is some data to support this idea, albeit not enough to be conclusive. it would certainly be very interesting to see such trails carried out with american inmates in any scale.
And so I think what is the difference there is the million dollar question. And the worst part is that it's not even consistent with nations themselves. For instance in checking out some recidivism rate data  it turns out that we have things like a recidivism rate of 23% in Oregon while it's 61% in Minnesota. That datum runs also runs in stark contrast to the person who responded while projecting his prejudiced views. Minnesota demographics . Oregon demographics . On the gang issue, to reemphasize I think that's a product of this sort of culture rather than this sort of culture being a product of gangs. So gangs are a subset but not the issue in and of themselves.
A huge issue in this realm is halfway houses largely operate without much oversight and often fail to actually provide structure and support for inmates and end up being just a place to dump them. I recall one researcher who visited many saying "we are paying for them to watch Jerry Springer."
Halfway houses cost less and have similar recidivism rates.
Norway doesn't have a network of violent gangs sitting in their prisons.
> I'm not sure you can call the Canadian
Canada is mostly on the path to copy US when it comes to gang violence.
You should really look at the numbers. The rape rate in the US is 17X Canada. Murders 3X. And the US age of criminal responsibility is SIX?!  It's pretty clear whatever system you advocate for isn't working.
 DEFINITION: The age at which a person is no longer excluded from criminal liability. The lowest age is indicated for countries where there isn’t a single age limit, for example where different states have different regulations (such as the USA) or there is different limits for boy and girls (such as in Iran). The spectrum is specifically wide for the USA and Mexico (both 6-12 years). Several US states do not stipulate any minimal age for criminal responsibility at all.
Editing since I can't reply: I may have misread your reply to mine, I reacted because in my mind, that there's a range or discretion is irrelevant because it's so far out there in the first place. Cleaned it up to be less pointed, to better line up with my intent and hopefully yours.
Is this something that allows them to have a rehabilitative prison system, or something that is caused by having a rehabilitative prison system?
I do not see any evidence that gangs have anything to do with being immigrants. I think gangs have something to do with a culture having an underclass.
Obviously, you have this idea that when black people form a gang, they are bad, but when white people form a gang, well, it’s because of the black people forcing them to form a gang.
Sorry, but further refuting of this kind of reasoning is beneath me. I see you very clearly for what you are and for the propaganda and disinformation you are trying to spread.
I'm not saying your wrong or anything, I don't know, just you don't have a an argument that's even a tiny bit convincing.
You're also getting into "chicken or egg" territory.
Usmani believes that something like the Nordic model would work in the US. I don't think Loury is buying any of it (and he knows quite a bit about this topic, quantitatively too) but is a model of polite, serious, engagement.
I think the only way to make inroads might be to somewhat circumvent the government. Build something that has a track record of true reform, and maybe eventually hold a monopoly on prisons that actually work and serve the purpose of reform over 'penance'.
I don't know exactly how you'd organise this, I guess you want to score them by recidivism rates (and high-school diplomas?) with massive penalties for escapes / deaths etc? Unlike charter schools you could assign prisoners truly randomly, statewide, for good statistics.
No doubt there are lessons to be learned from many countries' systems. Maybe we should encourage foreign companies to enter this market. I'm personally dubious that the Nordics have some secret sauce (to adapt Milton Friedman's quip, have you heard about the Swedish-American prison gangs?) but would love to be proven wrong.
The 'bonus' could be tied to performance/behavior/etc... and it could be 'will-able'.. in case you're a lifer, or die in prison, your family will have some benefit. A lot of poverty is because the breadwinner is in prison...if the breadwinner could still win bread while in prison it might positively effect poverty quite a bit.
The US prison system and the harsh police also contribute to violence, people are more violent because you are violent with them, it works as a feedback loop.
chicken and egg problem. I don't think US society was ever "not violent". It isn't more violent today than it was in the 80's at least.
Or consider Japan. They have a 99% conviction rate, and a big part of that is because it's an open secret that police will torture confessions out of people they arrest. But once again a different people with a different culture and we see an incredibly low crime rate.
For this matter we can perhaps even look at the US! Violent crime rates have been plummeting since the early 90s even though that has been paired with a sharp increase in the public perception of police violence. If there was a feedback loop then we would expect it to have been going sharply in the other direction!
Also, torturing people into confessions is a great idea, until you nab the wrong person. But it sure drives the conviction statistics up!
This isn't a question of culture, this is simply a case of the police fudging the numbers to make themselves look good. The Soviet Union also had "zero crime", and a 99% conviction rate, but unlike Japan, nobody took those bullshit claims seriously.
But GGP realusername's claim was that brutal policing drives crime. Places which have brutal policing and genuinely low crime are some evidence against this, even if you don't wish to emulate the brutality.
(Whether the USSR had low levels of street crime I actually don't know -- is this known? But few deny that Japan and Singapore are pretty damn safe.)
The point isn't we should perfectly copy the "Nordic model" -- the point is criminals in the US would be better rehabilitated if we tried to rehabilitate them.
Prison reform movements began to push for both deterrence and rehabilitation over simple punishment in the 17th century. This started with British houses of correction, where people were taught how to make a living for themselves rather than beg or steal. The Penitentiary Act introduced solitary confinement, religious instruction, a labor regime, proposed two state penitentiaries, and abandoned gaolers' fees. (These were never built, though) At the same time, capital punishment for minor crimes no longer seemed palatable, so simply being detained also became part of the punishment itself.
In America in the 19th century, states began to implement plans for prisons to be places of reform and penitence, such as the New York system, and the Pennsylvania system, which placed offenders into solitary cells with nothing other than religious literature, and forced them to be completely silent to reflect on their wrongs. Eastern State Penitentiary is one of those, and still stands in Philadelphia as a tourist attraction. It's a building that in some ways even feels like a church or cloister.
Current American prisons are not designed for penance or penitence.
People get into trouble with law mainly because they have reduced judgment. Idea that longer sentence makes them think twice simply can't work with them. It might work for white collar crime, but that's not usually what is suggested.
“Punishment”, perhaps. It's far less than 100% effective for penance, which is voluntary, self-imposed, and done as an outward sign of genuine acceptance of responsibility and desire to make amends.
This follows a line of "counter-culture" mentality, an us-vs-them mind-set which is divisive and self-reinforcing. The same problem comes with the war on drugs, if someone experiments with drugs at a young age and consequentially finds that they like drugs then they are forced into a counter-culture where escape is difficult at best.
Edit: removed some superfluous words for readability.
In fact, I teach a class every week to 33 prisoners, inside the prison itself. Rehabilitation is absolutely the goal.
Drugs are everything. I'd say 90% of these guys are in prison because they were addicted to drugs of various kinds, and it wrecked their lives as they grew desperate to support their habit. Master the drugs, you master the crime.
It's a pretty stupid form of payment, I should say. They lose time and opportunity and so on, so they definitely paid something. The state paid a fortune for their incarceration, so the state is also out of pocket. The criminals are paying for their crimes, but they're not paying society. They're not paying the victim. Society actually pays as well! This is so ridiculous. The criminal AND the state are paying for the crimes.
There are obviously situations that call for incarceration because there are individuals who have to be kept away from society (diagnosed psychopaths).
However, simple incarceration is a dreadful solution so far as raw justice goes. If the criminal were instead rehabilitated, they would have to live the remainder of their life under the weight of their own guilt. Revenge is the quick or easy way out, for everyone.
I think many people are sympathetic to reform in the criminal justice system. It would be a good thing to do. Particularly laws around drugs and illegal substances. It also gets to the root of many of these problems. I think that’s a much better way to move the needle, rather than just looking at the money spent and deciding “well, this isn’t working based on my definition, so we might as well not do it”.
Is it also one of the safest in history in other nations that have not increased their incarceration rates?
If this were solely limited to incarceration rates the United States would have the lowest crime rate in the world.
You're making a lot of assumptions here. 1) There is no crime in prison. 2) The imprisoned would have kept on committing crime for their total sentence if they were not in jail. 3) Prisoners 'return' to the world committing the same type/volume of crimes that they were committing when they went in.
For #1: There is crime in prison, a whole lot of it, and (even if you don't have sympathy for criminals) it's bad for society; people may come out worse off than they went in, driving crime up further. Jail is an intense experience, and it seems like the skills that you develop while 'surviving' in jail may not be so constructive for society when you're released.
For #2: As a kid my friends and I made a lot of stupid mistakes and some pretty bad decisions. Purely arbitrary factors (race, affluence, geography, etc) meant that none of us were ever locked up for them. We had the opportunity to correct our behavior, grow out of it. Had we have been punished harshly, it's likely that that our bad behavior would have continued. This is due to #1 (exposure to crime/criminals in prison, and contact with the justice system), but also loss of opportunities, and probably a different exposure or experience with drugs.
For #3: The above two points lead to the possibility that people who come out of jail are more likely to engage in more or worse criminal activity when they're released than when they went in.
So while there need to be consequences for crime, it's not at all evident that increased incarceration, certainly the way we are doing it, would lead to reduced criminal activity.
She did not stay clean, and I'm sure we can do better as a society to rehab our people, but for 6 months she was limited in the damage she could do to those around her.
I'm pretty conflicted on the topic
Presumably someone or some institution stepped in, probably the family. How much was the jailing necessary for the kid to get this help?
Keep the easy questions coming.
Physical, emotional and sexual abuse are all very different from neglect. All forms of abuse are different in terms of the psychological effects on the abused, societal reactions to both parties, motivation on the part of the abuser and much more.
If you want to help people get off drugs, don't criminalize them, send them to rehab, end of story. Portugal decriminalized all drugs and started sending people to mandatory rehab if they had problems and the rate of drug harm went from one of the highest in the EU to one of the lowest in just 15 years. Portugal has 3 overdose deaths per million citizens, compared to the EU average of 17.3 [2, 3] The US is 213 per million, accounting for 1 in every 4 worldwide.  Clearly the US system does not work.
It's crazy, right, that a country where all drugs are legal has a 100x lower overdose rate than one where drugs crimes are enforced as strictly as humanly possible.
It's important to remember a single data point (an anecdote) is no substitute for large-scale studies (country-wide in the case of Portugal). The data I gave you covers millions and millions of individuals, and in my opinion, and should be weighed accordingly. I'd love for you to read them and provide your own thoughts rather than just saying "no, I have one data point close to me and advocate policy based on it."
Drug addictions are truly complicated things. In regards to the relapse after release, there's some evidence that addictions are in part situational. By the end of the Vietnam war, some 20% of service members where addicted to heroin. 95% of them were no longer addicted to heroin as soon as they returned home. Whereas people with additions in the US had a 90% chase of relapse after they returned home to the environment in which they used to be addicted.  I even notice this to a smaller degree myself, I drink more in SF - when I'm there, I drink more, when I travel, I drink less even controlling for everything else to the best of my abilities (again, an anecdote not a study).
Prison is a hammer, we need a scalpel, and it's important we use data dispassionately to solve this problem. What we have so far is clearly not working, and it's time to look outside and adopt things that have worked elsewhere even if they fly in the face of the status quo. I would argue especially if they fly in the face of the status quo.
"I'm confident she did drugs in prison"
where you disputed this single data point. I did not mean it was representative of the majority.
Prison was mainly only good for the lives she was destroying in her downward spiral.
But don't be fooled thinking rehab will be that scalpal. Many rehab facilities are privately owned and corrupt.
Her mother is now completely broke from trying to pay for rehab & she was still able to use there & make more addict friends (new roomates after rehab)
It seems the US is using prison as the catch all for people who have trouble living in society. Be it for mental health reasons or drug addiction.
I think you are underestimating the power of a heroin addiction and overestimating the effectiveness of rehab in the US, especially for unwilling participants
Improving the quality of rehab is certainly worth a discussion. But there the US mindset gets in the way that doesn't want to spend money on welfare but instead prefers to spend more money on prisons. The only problem is that prisons don't know that their role now is not only to hold criminals but also people with mental health issues or addiction.
> "Incarceration is not only "an expensive way to achieve less public safety," but it may actually increase crime by breaking down the social and family bonds that guide individuals away from crime, removing adults who would otherwise nurture children, depriving communities of income, reducing future income potential, and engendering a deep resentment toward the legal system."
Put crudely: Put someone in jail and he's not going to be around to rob anyone. But he's also not going to be around to talk sense into his kid brother.
Nor is he around his children, making a stable household for them to grow up focusing on school and building their own futures.
That doesn't automatically follow.
First, it ignores crimes committed while in jail, which is totally a thing - but at least hopefully the impact of those on "innocents" is reduced.
Second, if punishment reduces honest opportunities and increases criminal opportunities (networking?), enough new criminal acts may follow to make up for the lost time.
Likewise, I think networking also doesn't account for much when your prison sentence is five or ten years instead of three. There's a big jump from zero to one, and a much smaller jump after. (Regardless, that's one reason why I explicitly excluded organized crime.)
These are a few reasons why I think corporal punishment might be a good idea.
An incarceration focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment is something i think would work a lot better, I could at least stand sending innocent people to such a place.
What if I told you that to imprison citizens for small crimes causes them to commit a more serious crime in the future? Does that changes your conclusion?
Your over-simplification does not make sense. And assuming that the people that did the study are just blatantly incompetent without any information is very presumptuous.
If you believe confounding factors make it impossible to use empirical methods to study the subject you're just giving up on scientific method.
Because your alternative seems to be a few slogans that claim to be "common sense", but are really just a projection of your moral preferences into a causal model.
Fortunately, policy professionals are not giving up on evidence-based decision-making quite as quickly.
> "Higher incarceration rates are not associated with lower violent crime rates, because expanding incarceration primarily means that more people convicted of nonviolent, "marginal" offenses (like drug offenses and low-level property offenses) and "infrequent" offenses are imprisoned."
I'm all for legalizing marijuana and other soft drugs, but not for going easy on rapists and murderers. Do increased jail sentences have a deterrent effect? A quick Google search shows that the answer is yes, up to a certain point, and this makes perfect logical sense. If the punishment for committing armed robbery consisted solely of one day in prison, so many more people would give it a go. As you increase the sentence from one day to multiple years, you would weed out the less hardcore would-be criminals.
We can debate the inflection point where the effects start to taper off. But there is no doubt that having some threat of jail time, has a extremely significant impact on crime.
The article then deduces that high incarceration rates CAUSE high crime rates when it seems blatantly obvious to me that the causation runs in the OPPOSITE direction.
Areas with high crime rate cause high incarceration rates because as crime rate goes up, more people must be put in prison.
I don't necessarily disagree with the article's agenda (to support prison reform) but the reasoning seems shockingly lacking.
Also, the article mentions that the incarceration budget went up by 340% with no meaningful change to public safety, but fails to mention that inflation during the same time period was 240%....so the budget didn't really increase all that much.
The study can't tell you what would have happened if that state had reduced incarceration rates.
People who get cancer treatment are far more likely to have cancer than the general population. This does not mean that reducing cancer treatment reducing cancer treatment will reduce cancer incidence!
Seems like we should be looking at things like that. I never shook those conversations here though. W have to empower single motherhood (heroism) and not discourage it here... Well look at where that has led us.
California's murder rate peaked around 1994. Three-strikes sentencing was enacted that same year in CA and about a dozen other states. Are we to believe that the 50% decline in murders since then is not, at least in part, a result of the incarceration of repeat criminals?
I guess we'll find out soon enough now that 3-strikes is being considerably softened.
Also, the number of homicides specifically peaked in 1993 at 4,096 and dropped almost every year for the next 25 years. It looks like it bottomed out in 2014 and started climbing again.
It's true that rates in other states dropped also. You mentioned Illinois who did not enact a three strikes law (but its neighbors did, as did the federal government). Note that it didn't see improvement on the same scale as California - and now Chicago's murder rate is so bad that it makes the national news almost every week.
I really don't know that the halving of the murder rate should be credited to tougher sentencing, but it coincides pretty well - so well that when I see claims that they have zero effect I can't help but assume that the findings are agenda-driven.
But tough sentencing laws are falling out of favor and being reversed - or partially reversed. Maybe the homicide rate will stay low and 3-strikes laws will be completely discredited.
Primary evidence being that the crime rate started dropping everywhere in a similar proportion around that time, even in states without a 3 Strikes rule.
People who get cancer treatment are far more likely to have cancer than the general population. This does not mean that reducing cancer treatment rates will reduce cancer rates!
"...thousands of people are serving life
sentences without the possibility of parole for nonviolent crimes as petty as siphoning gasoline from an 18-wheeler, shoplifting three belts, breaking into a parked car and stealing a woman’s bagged lunch, or possessing a bottle cap smeared with heroin residue."
Here's Newt Gingrich's classic "debate" between FBI crime statistics and his own "feelings". Notice particularly the language he uses to frame actual facts that don't agree with his ideology:
If a legal system grants the death penalty, it isn't murder under that legal system.