I should be finishing up the next part of my dissertation on Radley’s book, but for some reason I dropped in on the Crime and Consequences to see what Bill Otis was saying. He was on a rant:
In a speech to the ABA about a month ago, the Attorney General denounced the criminal justice system as “ineffective,” and — pointedly ignoring the well-being of the huge majority of ordinary citizens — concentrated instead on how well (or poorly, in his view) we’re treating the tiny minority who wind up in prison because they want to make a fast buck dealing heroin, meth, cocaine, and other illegal and dangerous drugs.
Of course, they were only dealing those drugs to people who wanted to buy them, which means they weren’t actually harming anyone. Otis was complaining about increasing debts earlier in the piece, but apparently he doesn’t mind wasting money to imprison people for victimless crimes.
But I digress.
Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the push to return to the Sixties’ and Seventies’ disastrous means for dealing with crime takes root in more than just ignorance of the past. It takes root in more than complacency, too. It takes root specifically in lying. Thus, when the Attorney General told us that our current criminal justice system is “ineffective” (his word), he was lying. There’s no other candid way to put it.
I’m not sure that “ineffective” is the word I would use, either. Other words come to mind: Indiscriminate, cruel, callous, disproportionate, arbitrary, elitist, profitable, deadly, harsh, disrespectful, unprincipled… Anyway, here’s the part that got my attention (emphasis mine):
Here’s the truth. In the last generation, the crime rate is down by half. The murder rate is down by more than half. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, we have more than 4,000,000 fewer crimes per year now than we did 20 years ago. Crime is at levels not seen since the Baby Boomers were in grade school. At the same time, protections for criminal defendants have vastly increased, and are now more numerous and refined than at any time in the country’s history.
Now who’s lying? I mean that’s just nonsense. Heck, Crime and Consequences celebrates every time protections are eliminated.
The craziness continues:
The Attorney General’s notion that this state of affairs shows an “ineffective” criminal justice system is absurd. But it’s a needed absurdity — needed as the predicate to help him and like-minded people bring corrosion to one part of our culture that, up to now, anyway, has mostly escaped it: Our still at least partly disciplined system for dealing with crime.
You mean the system that permits no-knock raids, flash-bang grenades, sobriety checkpoints, Terry stops, arrest quotas, pepper-spraying peaceful protesters, and piracy in the form of civil forfeiture? That disciplined system? Spoken like someone who’s used to being the man…
One of the things we have achieved to a remarkable extent is Franklin Roosevelt’s freedom from fear.
Unless, of course, you have some reason to fear the police. Which brings me back to Radley’s book…