Morning Ed: Crime {2016.03.09.W}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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88 Responses

  1. LeeEsq says:

    I do not like how we treat sex offenders after they do their time. I understand the impulse but it goes against the basic concepts of justice in the common law. It also causes more problems than it solves. We know that when you make life difficult for convicts after their release than chances are that they are going to go back to committing crimes. Sex offenders might not go back to committing sex crimes but they might end up doing something illegal because they have to live a marginal life. You can’t treat somebody harshly if you want them to reform. Sex crimes are also too broadly defined.

    A big reason why there is a tendency to treat sex offenders more harshly besides the rise of the prison state is that when people talk about rape and other sex crimes they are really talking about two different things. You have rape the felony we should in theory be treated no differently than any other felony by the courts. Than you have rape the tool of oppression, which is rightfully seen as something more insidious than grand theft auto. Governments and societies are struggling with issues revolving around sex crimes because of the dual nature of them.Report

    • Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Rape the tool of oppression.
      Yeah, remind me, for HOW many years did white folks treat indian reservations as their own personal rape preserves? Scot Free, I might add.

      There’s a difference between mysogyny, and using rape as a tool to humiliate an entire nation.Report

      • Art Deco in reply to Kim says:

        Yeah, remind me, for HOW many years did white folks treat indian reservations as their own personal rape preserves? Scot Free, I might add.

        There are about 500,000 people resident on Indian reservations, which are typically in the deep country. How many years? Zero.Report

        • Kim in reply to Art Deco says:

          Burnt womens shelters trump no evidence, dude.
          And I’ve posted evidence about this before on this site.
          Not going to bother again for the likes of you, sorry… I do have work today.Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    The New Yorker ran a section about juveniles who get put on the sex offender registry:

    I found this article rather heat breaking. The main person featured and her family clearly did not know any thing about the criminal justice system and no one took the time to think “Hey, maybe this family doesn’t quite get it and we should explain it to them.”

    Plus there are clearly lots of people out there who can’t put two and two together. One of the story’s in the New Yorker involved a girl who was sexually abused by her brothers or half-brothers. The brothers went to a juvenile facility for a while and when they came back, a neighbor killed the family dog. Clearly someone got so hopping mad that they could not stop for a minute and think “Hm. Maybe the girl (the victim) is also emotionally attached to the dog.”Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Anatole France and Victor Hugo have been proven right again. The law is a blunt instrument and often is not flexible enough to deal with complicated situations. Juvenile court was created so something could be done about criminal acts committed by minors without subjecting them to the full power of the law and courts. Instead we get plagued with a bunch of Inquisitors who want to convict the entire world and make bad situations worse. For them the law is the law and you just apply it regardless of the consequences even if it violates every precept of common sense.Report

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    Bobby Jindal fucked up Louisana’s finances so much that essential services might be drastically cut. One of these services is the Public Defender system:

    I believe that Gideon v. Wainwright was a correct and just decision. The issue with the decision is that it is one thing to be mandated by the Constitution, it is another to get people to follow and properly fund the decision. I wonder if there is just something psychologically counter-intuitive about due process and civil liberties for many people. Americans love to profess respect and admiration for the Constitution and we constantly ignore parts of the Constitution that we don’t like.

    Justices have come up with interesting stretches on what a speedy trial means. Prosecutors also have a right to get people to waive their right to a speedy trial (and they often do.) I am morbidly curious to see if a case involving Louisiana Public Defenders will go to the Supreme Court and what the Court will say.

    When I posted this article on FB, a former OTer made two comments:

    1. “If only we limited enforcement to those who had hurt others and shifted that money to the PDs.”

    2. “Yeah, statists right and left always want to define harm broadly so they can control others.”

    There are a lot of problems with Hanley’s comments:

    1. Defining harm is an impossible task. Coming up with a universal definition of harm is an an even more impossible task. One of the things I dislike about libertarianism is that it handwaves away a lot of problems because they become inconsistent with an economic wordlview. Bryan Caplan got into hot water recently because he dismissed the concept of mental illness and described mental illness as an economic preference or way of being. The War on Some People who use Some Drugs is a Disaster but I have a hard time thinking of meth and heroin dealers in a positive light. We should be able to acknowledge that there are narcotics that do bad things to the body physically and that addiction can rip families apart and this is a form of harm. There is way too much handwaving on these issues for my liking.

    2. Number 2 is just a pure imputing of bad faith. I don’t think there are many people out there who would call themselves “statists” except Michael Bloomberg maybe. What if people honestly and sincerely believe that they are reducing harm? The whole point of liberalism is that Government is a necessary check and balance against the whimsies of the Market, anarchy, and fate.Report

    • Road Scholar in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I just recently read somewhere that one state (S. Dakota, IIRC) is charging indigent defendants $93/hr for PD services. And THEN, failure to pay that charge is a separate criminal offense, for which, naturally, you need another PD, etc. Talk about a treadmill! WTF! The whole point of being declared “indigent” is to say you have no damn money.Report

      • Autolukos in reply to Road Scholar says:

        This is the article I saw on SD. I believe some other states have similar arrangements.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Road Scholar says:

        People on this blog and other liberal and libertarian blogs like to talk about the problems with mass imprisonment in the United States but this might still be a minority position. Many Americans or even a plurality of Americans see themselves as very law and order at least on some issues and want the justice system to deal with alleged criminals harshly. That’s why some states are reverting to debtor’s prison.

        Another thing is that civilization is expensive. Even if you apply minimalist government standards, your still going to need a lot of tax dollars to keep things up and running. Americans want the amenities of a wealthy country without having to pay for them.Report

        • Damon in reply to LeeEsq says:

          How many americans think we should have invaded iraq, afganistan, meddled in syria, libya, iran, etc.?

          Could have used that money elsewhere….Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to Damon says:

            More than we like. On Afghanistan, I’m going to give my usual argument that no elected politician is going to respond to any terrorist attack of that level by telling the public “we have analyzed all available options and decided that doing nothing but moving on is the best response.” Afghanistan was inevitable. Iraq II was not. I have no idea why you are mentioning Iran. Obama dealt with Iran through diplomacy and negotiation rather than force. That is considerably cheaper unless you mean Eisenhower’s decision to stage a coup in 1952. Liberals bring up your point all the time though. Less foreign adventurism would leave more money to use on domestic spending. Its a big part of Sanders’ campaign.Report

          • notme in reply to Damon says:

            That money could have bought more Obama phones. Now the FCC wants broadband to be subsidized. It must nice to spend other folks’ money but hey it’s the price for civilization, because it’s so expensive.


            • LeeEsq in reply to notme says:

              Obama did not invade Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a really good text book example of why we can’t have nice things in the United States. You are just filled with some sort of jealous range and there might be a little cheating or somebody might get something they do not deserve in your mind that you are willing to damn the entire world to misery to prevent this.Report

              • notme in reply to LeeEsq says:

                The only rage I have is focused on Dems that want to redistribute my hard earned money. Oh,and those who make silly excuses for it by claiming that civilization is expensive.Report

              • Kim in reply to notme says:

                … because republicans redistributing your money to the likes of the Kochs is all fine and dandy!

                Give to the rich, steal from the poor!

                Because you seriously don’t care about the times when the FBI gets involved.

                Only the redistribution…Report

              • Damon in reply to Kim says:


                I, for the record, object to ANY redistribution of MY money, regardless from which side it’s coming.Report

              • Kim in reply to Damon says:

                Yeah, you get points for consistency, you ol’ curmudgeon you.

                (Must say you’ve gotta better sense o’ humor than most curmudgeons, though)Report

              • Damon in reply to Kim says:

                and I’m even more funny in person 🙂 I’m also quite adorable.Report

            • j r in reply to notme says:

              Obama phones? Isn’t there some newer right wing Obama freakout for you to reference?

              You’re like one of those guys still rocking striped Lee jeans in 1988.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to j r says:

                What, are you kiddin’?
                They rode Strapping Young Bucks for a couple of decades.

                They will be using this against Sen Chelsea Clinton in 2028.Report

          • susan in reply to Damon says:

            Pallet loads of money were absconded. I believe crime is crime. No special laws. All crimes are committed from distorted justification. We all at some point in our lives tend to give in to “stinkin’ thinkin’ “. Just because a thought comes into your head doesn’t mean you act upon it. Think things thru logically. Our emotions are allowed to much freedom in our decision making. Step back, take a deep breath, calm down and think. Life is like a chess game, the move you make today could effect you somewhere down the line. Those that have extreme anger, generally have un-dealt with incidences of abuse. They were hurt and are still hurting. They self medicate with drugs or alcohol or both. The numb wears off…. If we keep treating everyone around us with disrespect, then they will have no respect for us. Some people are so broken, that they may not be repairable, but that doesn’t mean we mistreat them when they are locked up. Every person deserves respect and humane treatment. Compassion…. God gave us “free will” to choose the life we live..Those first Ten basic laws are a very good start. Whether you believe in God or not…………Life is a choiceReport

        • Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq says:

          I don’t think this is simple law and order stuff but that is certainly a factor. Combined with the long standing American tradition of punishing the poor for being poor. I think a lot of people see it as counter-intuitive that Government and taxpayers should be required to pay for criminal defense.Report

    • Damon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      ” I don’t think there are many people out there who would call themselves “statists” except Michael Bloomberg maybe” Really it doesn’t matter how people would define themselves. Their actions do. I’m sure the khmer rouge didn’t view themselves as butchers of a whole country, but they were.

      “Statism is the belief that the state should control either economic or social policy, or both, to some degree. Statism is effectively the opposite of anarchism; an individual who supports the existence of the state is a statist.” -wikipedia.

      Of course Saul, you forget that any action taken by gov’t is an exercise in the use of force. So while the gov’t is allegedly “reducing harm” in the area you want it to, it’s using force to do it. No one seems to bother doing the analysis on whether or not the gov’ts actions generate more negative externalizes than the improvements they allegedly are trying to make, except perhaps with the exception of the drug war.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Damon says:

        Well, there’s your problem right there.

        If the word “statism” means “anyone who thinks government should exist” then that’s why no one bothers to use the term, since it is so broad as to be meaningless.

        Any grouping* that includes the editors at Jacobin and Reason probably isn’t very descriptive.

        *Well, unless the grouping is “white folks”.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          If you don’t like absolutes when it comes to the definitions of political opponents, maybe you should move to Somalia.Report

        • Damon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Please explain how you got from “the state should control either economic or social policy, or both, to some degree” to “anyone who thinks government should exist”. Last time I checked, the gov’t had it’s hands in more that just economic or social policy.Report

          • switters in reply to Damon says:

            I think he’s talking about this part of the Wiki:

            “Statism is effectively the opposite of anarchism; an individual who supports the existence of the state is a statist.”Report

          • dragonfrog in reply to Damon says:

            What is there for government to do that both isn’t, and doesn’t require control of, either economic or social policy?Report

        • Damon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Actually that’s my point. The vast majority of people assume gov’t should be heavily involved in society and individual’s lives. There is a minority that doesn’t take that view. So, statist is a grouping that contains both the conventional political left and right; the only different between the two groups is HOW they want that power used.

          There’s a lot of roles gov’t plays that isn’t related to “economic or social policy”. One obvious one is national defense. Arguments on what the unintentional influence on economic polity via the national defense issue is another matter.Report

          • dragonfron in reply to Damon says:

            How is the state going to carry out national defence if it’s not in control of economic policy, specifically what is taxed and at what rate, and social policy, specifically how are tax evaders detected, arrested, prosecuted, punished, reintegrated into society after their punishment? Absent that control, the state will soon be invaded by an entity that is able to afford weapons and salaries for its soldiers.Report

      • Kim in reply to Damon says:

        Are you in favor of corporations running white slavery operations?

        If you aren’t, what is your proposed solution without involving the state?

        [Bonus points if you involve mercenaries].Report

    • PD Shaw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “If only we limited enforcement to those who had hurt others . . .”

      In addition to the points you made, there is wide misperception that there is a lot of low-lying fruit here. There is bipartisan support in Illinois to release non-violent offenders, but there is also bipartisan support for attacking a governor who releases an offender that he shouldn’t have.

      The main problem is that people are charged with a set of offenses, violent and non-violent, and they may plea to one of them. Since drug charges are easy to prove and have long sentences, there are violent offenders that appear to have non-violent record. But the evidence in the file shows they did hurt someone.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to PD Shaw says:

        I largely agree but I have seen articles address we need to reduce sentences on violent prisoners as well to really tackle prison reformReport

        • notme in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Why would we want to reduce sentence son violent prisoners? That makes no sense.Report

          • PD Shaw in reply to notme says:

            Sentence creep was justified on the grounds of deterrence. There is little or no evidence that increasing a minimum sentence from 3 to 6 to 9 years has any effect on deterrence. That’s not how criminals think. In particular, they don’t think they are going to get caught, if they’ve thought about it at all.Report

            • Don Zeko in reply to PD Shaw says:

              And this goes double for three strikes laws, which in practice tend to kick in when repeat offenders are about to age out of a high likelihood of recidivism.Report

              • PD Shaw in reply to Don Zeko says:

                I don’t know what to think about 3 strikes laws. If sentences were reduced significantly, I wouldn’t object to keeping such laws but with some greater requirement of proportionality than seems to exist. But to convince the public that much shorter sentences are just as likely to discourage repeat offenders as long-ones, one probably cannot have it both ways.Report

        • PD Shaw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          I think violent crime sentences are too long as well, except for child-abuse (not referring to the Romeo-Juliette issue)Report

        • susan in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Sounds good. But you have to look at who is going to help write the rules for rehabilitation. To many people have control issues. They can’t control themselves, so, they feel they have to control someone else. The first Ten laws were written for us to control ourselves or suffer the consequences of our actions. More and more the laws are written for controlling certain groups of people. Eventually, you control enough groups, you control all. Rehabilitation rules should be guidance, written by many and approved by many, but give the control to the person themselves. Let them ask for help, and give help without trying to control them. Help a person to face their past, but use understanding and compassion. You could be in their shoes……Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    The entire issue with sex registries and minors that are put on them is a solution with no good or politically possible answer. There are many people in the world who for a variety of reasons from mental illness to simple malice and anything in between are going to continually commit harmful and destructive acts on others. People naturally want to know who these people are to protect themselves and their loved ones. Its a human need and people like security. At the same time we know that humans have a tendency to muck up things and that more and more acts will get defined as sex offenses. We also know that sex offender registries will be misused in a way that was never intended. The people who created the idea of sex offender registries most likely didn’t intend for children to get on it for doing dumb and possibly morally questionable things that children have done for most of human history.Report

  5. notme says:

    Open prisons? Once again folks look to small ethnically and culturally homogeneous countries to advise the US what to do. This story seems more like cover to criticize the US than to actually make a relevant point. Besides, didn’t Mass try weekend furloughs and they got Willie Horton?Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to notme says:

      Gosh, it’s almost like you haven’t read the article.Report

      • Art Deco in reply to dragonfrog says:

        The author is not Scandinavian. He’s a fatuous American living in Clinton, NY. Does that make it better or worse?Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to Art Deco says:

          I dunno, I read the article for the content, not for ad hominem material from the byline.Report

          • Art Deco in reply to dragonfrog says:

            The content is a guide to what addles the author. It isn’t going to make you any smarter unless you take an interest in him.

            He’s a literature professor who has volunteered as an instructor at a maximum security prison. That sounds like like some sort of curious penance. Few inmates have any kind of tertiary schooling and what he has to offer is not the vocational schooling from which they can benefit.

            Clinton is a handsome and pleasant town. The consequences of urban disorder will not be borne by this man, but in the seedier enclaves in Utica.

            Keep in mind that Attica is at some distance from where he lives. Camp Georgetown, Auburn, and Elmira are all between Hamilton College and Attica prison. Heck, there’s the Oneida and Herkimer County jails. What’s the attraction of Attica, other than the rough trade?Report

            • notme in reply to Art Deco says:

              What’s the attraction of Attica, other than the rough trade?

              Maybe that’s what the author likes.Report

            • dragonfrog in reply to Art Deco says:

              So, I’ve read a couple brief bios of the man (two paragraph speaker or . author bios, that kind of thing). If you were thinking this would reduce my respect for his likely knowledge of prison and its effects, and increase my respect for yours, I’m not sure why you would think that.

              I don’t know exactly where to start on the ugliness in what you just wrote.

              Who are you to say what someone else should study or what studies they should have access to? If access to a writing workshop helps them deal with life in prison, helps them process and exorcise and emerge with some of their issues resolved, or at least the PTSD of prison life mitigated, who are you to deny them that?

              Your last paragraph is just vile. You’re trying to smear a man you know nothing about, over his actions arising from reasons you know nothing about. Why did he choose Attica and not some other prison to start the education program he did (which is not just himself, but multiple educators)? Maybe that was the prison where he was able to get the administration’s cooperation. Maybe that’s where the other educators he could get on board could all make it to. Maybe that’s where the prisoners actually expressed a desire for what they were able to offer. Maybe your last sentence is just ugly and cynical and makes me want to spit.Report

  6. notme says:

    It looks like The National Film Board of Canada is implementing a quota system. So now the sex of the director is more important than a film’s merits.

  7. Jaybird says:


    • Autolukos in reply to Jaybird says:

      Trevor Siemian has flawlessly handled every snap he’s taken. No need to keep a backup plan around.Report

    • El Muneco in reply to Jaybird says:

      It’s not a trade, he’s a free agent, so this is an example of the invisible hand of the market working in mysterious ways.

      The way I read the details Mike Florio put together, the deal is basically 2y/37m, with two option years at 18m each. Elway was going to go more like 2y/30m with 16m options. Which is still too much, but when you’re expected to make the SB again, you have to overpay whoever happens to be dating Ciara at the time.

      On the other hand, there are two highly athletic quarterbacks with playoff experience readily available.

      I kid. If Denver’s being conservative, they sign the guy who couldn’t get the Jets into the playoffs. If they’re being risky, there are the two above-mentioned athletes, and a couple of ex-Eagle game-managers might be available for the right price. If those are the options, I wouldn’t be surprised if they start the clipboard holder, or Tarvaris Jackson or somebody, and count on winning the same way they did with Osweiler.Report