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.