For years now, we have been told -- no, we have been lectured -- that we incarcerate "too many people for too long," as Eric Holder told his fan base at the ABA convention back in August. Those believing, as CJLF does, that the huge reduction in crime over the last 20 years was brought about in significant part by the large increase in imprisoning criminals have been laughed off. Everything and anything else has been enlisted as an explanation, from abortion to the elimination of lead-based paint and gasoline. We could safely release "low-level" (is there any other kind?) inmates, we have been told, and crime would not increase. Indeed, it would decrease, because the inmates would no longer be "schooled" in crime while in prison, and would "return to be productive members of their communities." The punitive and Neanderthal sorts who thought otherwise needed to get with it, and learn to adopt "evidence-based" corrections policy.
OK, in the past three years, the prison population has indeed decreased, as several states, most notably California, have reduced their prison population. So now, the evidence -- the BJS figures released this morning -- is in.
What does it say?
It says what we knew from the getgo: That despite the other side's ceaseless and dishonest campaign, it remains the case that, when you put criminals in jail, you get less crime, and when you let them out prematurely, you get more.
Now we are getting more, as the BJS figures show. Will our opponents take any responsibility for the additional crime -- and thus the additional loss and suffering -- their policies have helped create? Or will they keep carrying the flag for criminals, despite the evidence they once claimed to value?