Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Property Crime Decreases Don't Matter

With high regard for Doug Berman’s admonition for folks not to read too much into the latest UCR report on increased violent crime while property crime dropped and his link to Talk Left, Talk Left falls once again into the old reactive and unimaginative rhetoric that has left crim just policy so poorly balanced in the last few decades. Voters don’t respond to property crime going down the same way they do violent crime. Violent crime and, more, fear of it are the drivers of all the counterproductive policies we have out there today. Even drug scares are powerful in large part because of our fear of the violence embedded in them, as this ND article shows.

Rather than cower about how acknowledging violent crime increase will lead to worse laws, why not be proactive and aggressive for once and turn the increase back on those who kept telling us that tougher and tougher would stop those violent crimes? Why not point out that the resources devoted to putting tokers in prison could be put into cops on the street, a policy that the most recent research has linked specifically to reduced crime and for which past research has shown a higher payoff in crime prevention overall? Why not put ourselves conspicuously on the side of victims by promising to pursue solid programs demonstrated to stop victimization BEFORE it happens rather than waiting until it has before we do anything? Instead, just like the wishy-wussy Dem leadership [sic] who have so egregiously failed on the proper framing of practically every vital issue facing this nation today, Talk Left tells us oh-so-rationally “don’t be fooled.” I’m sorry, but that’s worked so well so far, hasn’t it? That’ll stop the rush to more cost- and victim-ineffective laws she’s concerned about dead in its tracks, just like it always has.

And another golden opportunity is wasted.

[Grits for Breakfast makes the same point, and probably more cogently and less testosteroned, with some really nice analysis of some pot arrest stats that show how much law enforcement is pulled from the street by increasing those arrest numbers, enforcement that could be, you know, preventing crime. I especially like his deduction that clearance rates for violent crimes have been dropping for the same reason, fewer cops available to do the investigations and get the witnesses’ testimony. You gotta know that an idea is absolutely correct when both Grits and I have it.]

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