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Lies, Damn Lies, and the New York Times


It's always hard, and risky, to say the New York Times has surpassed itself in mendacity and foolishness, but today's editorial has to be a candidate.

The Times says, picking through the oral argument in Plata v. Schwarzenegger, that less imprisonment will mean, as a "growing body" of unnamed "experts" is about to conclude, less crime.

If I were a smartypants, I would take the Times at its word and recommend that we empty the prisons entirely, so we can have no crime at all.  But, preferring to try to at least simulate Kent's seriousness, I will just say, as I did in evaluating this on Doug Berman's SL&P, that the editorial is a pack of lies.

As the prison population has grown over roughly the last two decades, the crime rate has fallen by more than 40%. And it's not all that hard to figure out. When you take off the street the people who are committing crime, less crime gets committed.

The Times, however, will have none of this rube-like simplemindedness, and sniffs that imprisonment has been a "failure."

Not exactly.  If we want to look at what "failure" actually means, we don't have to look far. In the late 60's and 70's, in the heyday of the liberal rehabilitation model the "experts" want to bring back, the crime rate doubled. That is what failure looks like -- not that the NYT is about to tell us.


"Among experts.....there is a growing belief that less incarceration and more and better policing will reduce crime."

For the reasons Bill cited above, this statement is so preposterous and counter- intuitive that it can't be taken seriously.Even the most liberal CJ consultant will admit that less incarceration will lead to an increase in crime-the only debate is the extent of the increase and whether the trade-off is sound public policy.

"more and better policing", which sounds like a liberal oxymoron, likely means police should overlook quality of life crimes, and disregard everything we have learned about "crime hot spots" and career offenders so as to avoid "profiling."

If this is what being "smart on crime" looks like, consider me a luddite.


The phrase "more and better policing" is quite the thing, isn't it? When the Left uses a phrase like that, it has become pretty easy to decode. The first part is just a fraud; when have you ever seen the ACLU and its allies actually support more policing (or even the level of policing we have now)? And "better" policing never means, say, rousting violent gangs or anything like that. "Better policing" means getting officers off the street and into the station house training room to study for hours about the "root causes" of crime and the need for heightened "sensitivity" for "at-risk youngsters," i.e., the sort of fellow one might previously have mistaken for the 250 pound, 17 year-old neighborhood bully with an armed robbery rap sheet that started when he was 11.

"More and better policing" my foot.

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