Live-blogging Midmorning: Getting ‘less tough on crime?’

Faced with rising costs and overcrowded prisons, states and some at the federal level are revisiting get-tough-on crime statutes. In Minnesota, a bill has been filed to cut prison sentences to save money.

Is this the right idea? I’m live-blogging the Midmorning broadcast on the subject. Kerri Miller’s guests are Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Brian Walsh, senior legal research fellow at the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation. He’s the author of a January paper on criminal law reform.

He was featured in an NPR story on the subject last month.

So let’s have an online conversation on the subject. Use the comments section below.

9:09 a.m. - Perusing various newspapers, I see Arizona is kicking this around. One of the proposed cuts is to treatment programs for sex offenders. That sounds a little like the strategy — apparently — in these parts not to fill potholes. Is that really the way to approach this?

9:11 a.m. – Mike Freeman says Minnesota spends the second-lowest amount on the penal system in the country. He also says the incarceration rate is second-lowest.

9:11 a.m. - The big increase in the prison system is drug offenders. Walsh focuses on the federal level and says “a number of people” are incarcerated for relatively small amounts of drugs. But, he says, “the right people are in prison for the right reasons.”

9:13 a.m. – Here’s an interesting chart on prison population. Our crime rate is slightly below the national average, but the incarceration rate and taxpayer cost is much lower than the national rate.

9:14 a.m. – Attorney Freeman says there is a relationship between tougher sentencing and a reduction in crime. He says felony DWIs are down. Mr. Walsh says that’s the way things should be done — data driven. Increasing sentences just because “you’re mad” doesn’t make any sense, he says.

9:17 a.m. -Freeman says the federal system’s mandatory drug minimum sentence is “outrageous,” and that “Congress has gone overboard.” But, he says, that’s not the way we do things in Minnesota. Walsh agrees. He says “it sounds very good to the public” to have tougher sentencing. But he suggests penal philosophy is more often guided by politics. Congress won’t vote against a tougher sentencing bill because they don’t want to be “soft on crime.” Unfortunately, he didn’t provide a breakdown of who is being “overpunished.”

9:19 a.m. – Atty. Freeman, of course, comes from a world of politics, having served in the Minnesota Senate. He says he was “pushed by the other party” when sentencing and crime bills came up. “But that era ran out in the ’90s,” he said. He applauds programs for substance abusers as a way to keep people with low-level drug problems out of prison.

Tangent time: Here’s a 2005 Department of Corrections report on the Minnesota prison population.

9:22 a.m. - A caller says that attitudes toward locking up people with drug problems changed when the meth epidemic started. It’s a white-person drug. When crack cocaine — an African American drug in perception — was the main problem, there were more efforts to send people with drug problems off to prison.

9:25 a.m. – Walsh says most conservatives believe the 100:1 ratio (racial breakdown on drug prosecutions) was out of line. “Those who were calling for very stiff penalties on crack in the ’80s were those who were more closely associated with the left,” he said. “The Black Caucus was very involved in that.”

9:27 a.m. – Caller asks about Obama emphasis on treatment rather than prison. Who should administer it? “We need treatment in home communities for diversion,” Freeman said. He says his office will charge someone with crack, but they’ll encourage them to attend programs before going to prison.” He says even for the sellers who go to prison, there are good programs in prison for cleaning up. “The problem is the Legislature hasn’t appropriated enough money,” he said.

“That’s really unwise,” he said of the discussion at the Legislature for more cuts.

9:30 a.m. – Walsh says the focus needs to be on what works. He highlights the work of a Missouri prison official. Background on that is in this article.

9:38 a.m. – Just talking among ourselves here during the news break, Atty. Freeman just said that one of the most rapidly growing prosecution is domestic strangulation, which is a felony. Here’s a 2007 report on the impact of Minnesota’s domestic strangulation law.

9:40 a.m. – I’m listening to Atty. Freeman and Kerri talk about mandatory sentences for sex offenders who fail to register. Does mandatory minimum sentencing work? This article in TIME says the practice has stalled prison and criminal justice system reform.

9:48 a.m. – There’s a discussion here about the Appleton prison, which is a privately run prison. If I recall correctly, however, Appleton had a hard time getting prisoners. At one point it had to get prisoners from Puerto Rico.

9:51 a.m. – I just read several of the comments below on the air, including the need to concentrate on what happens when people get out of prison. Atty. Freeman says we ought to grant Certificates of Good Conduct to people who have been out and have not committed another offense. He says private employers shy away from people with a criminal past, even if people are simply charged and never convicted.

9:54 a.m. – One thing we haven’t talked about is the actual war that’s taking place in Mexico. That’s spilling over to the U.S. What will be the effect here? I just read an AP story that’s being distributed for the weekend papers:


But the cartels have also brought the fight to us. In 230 U.S. cities, the organizations maintain distribution hubs or supply drugs to local distributors, the federal government reports. Places like Miami and other longtime transportation points along the Southwest border. But also Twin Falls, Idaho. Billings, Mont. Wichita, Kan. St. Louis. Milwaukee.

And Minnesota.

9:58 a.m.Freeman, by the way, says he’s done with statewide politics. He’s run for governor twice.

  • Lawrence

    For me, the incarceration rate has risen because of the ineffectual war on drugs. Although drug use has declined in America from the all time high in 1979 and 1980, the harder addicting cocaine and meth, combined with the excessive access to marijuana has not stopped people from committing more crimes.

  • Lawrence

    The other crime that seems to be increasing in the last 20 years is sexual assault, especially sexual assault to minors. And the people that are being convicted for these crimes, are not your usual pedophile looking people; they are teachers, priests, neighbors, etc.

  • Elizabeth T

    We never got tough on crime. That implies a uniform application of law enforcement. That simply doesn’t happen, for a variety of reasons.

    Our prison sentences are ridiculous, and are not ‘data driven’; they’re driven by grieving, angry people.

  • http://www.goodwilleasterseals.org/site/PageServer?pagename=SC_home Lori Stee
  • Matt Greenstein

    When people discuss the cost of prisons and the need for reform, i think it needs to start on the streets with the way police conduct their business. By continuously profiling minority groups rather than actual criminals prisons have become a tool to disenfranchise the poor and people of color. It is a self fulfilling prophecy because once a person is in the system, they have a harder time finding work, finding housing, become disenfranchised, and then may become an actual criminal. When we look at the severely disproportionate ratio of people of color in prison compared to their percentage of the population it is apparent prisons are a tool to oppress minorities rather than criminals. If we cannot afford this burden any longer we should think about stop putting innocent people in jail and focus on REAL criminals. FYI – Ramona Africa will be speaking at Hamline Law School on Saturday in room 105, about the Philadelphia Police Targeting her group MOVE, their legal battles, the Prison Industrial Complex, Mumia Abu Jamal’s false imprisonment, and prison reform. She is being hosted by the PRISON REFORM PROJECT of Hamline Law School

  • Matt Greenstein

    FYI – Ramona Africa will be speaking at Hamline Law School on Saturday in room 105, about the Philadelphia Police Targeting her group MOVE, their legal battles, the Prison Industrial Complex, Mumia Abu Jamal’s false imprisonment, and prison reform. She is being hosted by the PRISON REFORM PROJECT of Hamline Law School

  • Kate

    I would love to hear discussion about restorative justice (RJ) in terms of rehabilitation and being more effective with reducing recidivism. The MN Department of Corrections has been a leader in RJ over the years. However, there is not a cohesive system for implementing restorative justice — it’s up to individual prosecutors, community groups, precincts, etc.

  • Kate

    Last month, Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia introduced the National Criminal Justice Act of 2009, and argued for RJ among other things. Kay Pranis is a leader of RJ in MN and across the nation, and she purports that RJ is actually tougher on crime than traditional justice system, because it requires the offender to face the victim directly and own up to the crime, instead of diminishing / justifying it in court.

  • dusty

    I like some of the last coments above about (rj)

    justice now is slow and diminished. what happend to chain gangs couldnt we modernize that concept more. look at ancient israels crime law, people had to repay others for their crime usually double what was lost. today if somone robbed me i would have to pay him with my taxes to put him in some nice prison. it so wrong and actually demoralizing for the criminal also. If i commited a crime I would want to be worked hard so that i could have an opritunity to repay individual or society not cost it.

    bring back chain gangs make men not hardend criminals.

  • GregS

    There is an assumption that people in prison for “drug offenses” are not violent people. The truth is: some are, some are not, but please, let’s not confuse the two groups. There are plenty of rapists serving time for the crack found on their possession resulting from their arrest for sexual assault. The sad truth is drugs are easier to prove than rape.

    On another matter, there is a kernel of truth in Matt Greenstein’s mythological assertion that police “continuously profiling minority groups”. They do so because the minorities are the primary victims of minority violence and they continuously put pressure on police to provide protection.

    Lisa brings up a great point.

    Most criminals are young and stupid – a temporary situation. So what happens when they mature? Why treat them as young and criminal all their lives?

    On the other hand, why treat career criminals like they can be something else?

    Why not bind sentences to the personality rather than the severity of the crime?

  • Matt Greenstein

    At, Greg, my statement is not ‘mythological.’ “Minneapolis Police officers stopped Black and Latino drivers at rates significantly higher than

    would be expected based on their proportions of the city’s driving age population, and stopped

    American Indian, Asian, and White drivers at significantly lower than expected rates. Blacks

    account for sixteen percent of the driving age population and forty percent of the stopped drivers

    in the city. Latinos were stopped at a rate sixty percent higher than expected given the driving

    age population.” source: http://irpumn.org/uls/resources/projects/Minneapolis-final.pdf.

    It has been documented by numerous sources including recently retired Minneapolis Judge Alexander who conducted a study on behalf of the Council on Crime and Justice which showed that although minorities were stopped and searched over 8x more than whites, when whites were stopped and searched than were 3x more likely to have committed a crime. This shows minorities are targeted by police, although they are less likely to be committing an offense than whites. Minnesota has a history of racial profiling and one of the largest disparities in inmate populations based on our population at large. Stating police are just profiling because “the minorities are the primary victims of minority violence and they continuously put pressure on police to provide protection.” is ignorant of the fact racism continues in America and Minnesota and is perpetuated by the police and judicial system. It would be nice to pretend police just are “doing their job” and do not have prejudicial aspects of how they police, but this is simply not the case. You should get your facts straight.

    “Compared to other states, Minnesota has the greatest black-to-white disparity in imprisonment rates. In 1997…, the ratio of African Americans to whites in state prisons was 25.09 to 1.”

    “In 1999, African Americans represented 3.5% of Minnesota’s population, but 35% of the adult male prison population.”

    “Minnesota’s Black-to-White imprsonment ratio is the twelfth highest in the nation.”

    *Council on Crime and Justice*

  • Matt Greenstein

    Here is a link to Judge Alexander talking on Midmorning about racial disparities in the policing and judicial process in Minnesota.

    http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/07/10/midmorning1/

  • Bob Collins

    Folks, if you post links, please make them “hot” links (i.e. they work). At the top of the comment form, it tells you how to do this. And then just make the words hot instead of pasting the actual link, which will run off the page and be of no use to anybody.

  • GregS

    There are a lot of reasons why people in high crime neighborhoods are stopped at a greater rate than their counter-parts elsewhere. The first, most obvious reason is “high-crime”

    But then I wouldn’t expect anyone who mentions MOVE or Mumia in a paragraph on crime to be familiar with reason.

  • http://twincities.indymedia.org/2009/apr/prison-reform-project-hosts-ramona-africa-move-hamline-law-school Matt Greenstein

    (Personal insult removed. We don’t do that here -bc)

    i never mentioned high crime, only minority groups. By conflating the two you really show your true colors. Also, if you had any understanding of the constitution and criminal procedure you would know whether any MOVE members committed a crime or not (including Mumia) is irrelevant. The issue is unconstitutional conduct by police and prosecutors which violates individuals rights. Either way, dozens of MOVE members have been killed (including 2 unborn babies & one 3 week year old), even more have been incarcerated based on cases with no incriminating evidence and on warrants executed without probable cause, and all because of what these people “believed” not what conduct they did. Maybe you don’t mind these types of encroachments on our civil liberties when it happens to black people, maybe one day it will happen to you and it will force you to do some self reflection.

    I hope you will come to hear Ramona Africa speak on saturday… the information is posted above.

  • http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/topic_category.aspx?category=528 Lori Stee

    The Pew Center on the States has published 2 significant reports recently that suggest essential policy changes:

    1 in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008

    1 in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections

    I believe you may click on my name for the hotlink. Otherwise go to http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/

    and click on the Topics tab.

    We need more informed, engaged and respectful dialogue to create just and pragmatic policies. One of the Pew recommendations. The Pew Center identifies a two-fold challenge:

    “Americans deserve criminal justice policies that keep them safe. They want serious, violent, and chronic criminals put in prison. At the same time, a majority of Americans support cost-effective strategies for dealing with offenders who pose less risk to the community.

    To meet both of those mandates, we seek to help states advance sound sentencing and corrections policies and practices that protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections spending.”

    Successful outcomes within this framework will require more effort toward finding common ground across differences and less petty bickering.

  • Matt Greenstein

    I am sorry this has begun to get off topic Bob. The point i wanted to make above is simply that in order to decrease prison costs, police should focus on real criminals, not drug users, or minority drivers. As a society we also should be very skeptical of the privatization of prisons. It turns our judicial system into a for profit system which creates a need for more inmates in order to be successful. This causes prisons to lobby our politicians and bribe judges in order to create more jailable offenses and longer prison terms. Look what happened with the judge in Philadelphia who was bribed by a private juvenile jail and then wound up sentencing kids to exponential sentences at the prison for minor school yard offenses…i do not want to see this happening in Minnesota or anywhere else in our country.

  • GregS

    Matt,

    I am sure that the victimhood myth of MOVE and Mumia are essential fundamentals for your faith, just as the seven-day creation myth is an essential article for Christian fundamentalists.

    (Personal attack removed)

    But then there are the fact, the simple verifiable facts, like the fact that most victims of violent crime are minorities and it is minority communities who put the most pressure on police to supress crime in their neighborhoods.

    We need to move past the lazy rhectoric of radical warhorses like Ramona Africa and begin to think in terms of how we can address the toxic subcultures of the inner-cities that traps all too many people in poverty and crime.

  • Matt Greenstein

    The facts are that MOVE was formed to “address the toxic subcultures of the inner-cities that traps all too many people in poverty and crime.” They organized food and clothing drives, spent energy on teaching children in the neighborhood, math and science. Many people look at inner city neighborhoods and think they need “outside help” yet, when community organizations like MOVE form and help themselves and their own community they are viewed as a threat to the power structure of society and are targeted in order to disenfranchise the group. MOVE has never had a fair portrayal in the media and it is no surprise you believe Ramona is “lazy radical war horse”, but ask yourself what you would do with your life, if all your closest friends and family and their children were murdered by police. How this relates to Prison Reform is that when nobody in society questions why people like the MOVE 9 are in jail without any evidence of a crime being committed it allows prisons and our judicial system to be a tool for oppression of the masses. MOVE are political prisoners in jail for their beliefs and their empowerment of their community, not for crimes. When police in Minneapolis stop and search black people, particularly young people, they are taking the first steps towards their disenfranchisement and forcing them to be discredited by society. If you want to address “the toxic subcultures of the inner-cities that traps all too many people in poverty and crime” we should start with the stopping police harassment and using the money the city will save to build more and better schools and community centers to enrich the culture and civic engagement of inner city neighborhoods.

  • GregS

    Matt,

    The MOVE incident occurred over 30 years ago. The incident with Mumia Jammal occurred in 1980.

    Maybe it is about time grow up to come firmly into the last quarter of the prior century, if not advance all the way into the 21st century.

    People move on, cops retire after 30 years and not a single officer active during that era still serves today, but the old radicals just keep at it, like yesterday is always today.

    This is a society that elected Barak Obama president. Let’s start treating it as such. Today’s problems are not racist cops, but the toxic culture of the inner-cities that breeds debilitating fear and stress for everyone who lives and works there.

    The first step in addressing change is to admit the failed rhetoric of past years is out of date and begin looking for new attitudes and new solutions instead of beating the same old war drum.

  • Joe O

    I have to agree with Matt G. on this one.

    GregS…you want to talk about lazy rhetoric? You keep claiming that, “most victims of violent crime are minorities and it is minority communities who put the most pressure on police to supress [sic] crime in their neighborhoods.” That’s great…can you think of a reason for that? Perhaps the fact that a disproportionate amount of minorities end up in prison, and that experience likely taints their worldview once they’re released? Perhaps because our country has a long history of disenfranchising minority populations and ignoring their needs.

    But it’s really hard to tell why something is, GregS, unless you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is and back it up. I don’t know who you are and I don’t care about your opinion on its face…I need to see facts and data and even some explanation for me to believe what you’re saying. For all I know, you’re an 8th grader skipping school and regurgitating everything that your daddy told you at dinner the other day. So, if you’re going to dispute what someone says, then try and bring something more substantive to the table than your bad spelling.

    Additionally, you say that we need to address the toxic situation in the inner cities, yet you perpetuate the ‘myth’ (a word you seem to be very fond of) that minorities are causing these problems, or bringing them down upon themselves. I think that perhaps a better way of fixing this issue would be to not view minorities with the level of distrust that you seem to have, and to ask our police to do the same. I understand that they have a tough job, but if they are unable to operate within the confines of the law, perhaps they should look for a new profession. We hold doctors, lawyers, contractors, and many other professionals to a high level of responsibility and ask for a high level of compliance with the rules, but yet we allow the police to run amok and flagrantly violate the laws they’re supposed to enforce.

    I personally think that we should start by eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses, and releasing all non-violent drug offenders. I also think that the drug laws in this country are insane, and a good hard look at their effectiveness and cost is in order. I also like the idea of providing for rehabilitation; as I stated before, an experience with the penal system can seriously affect a young person’s life, and the last thing we want walking out of our prisons are inmates who are MORE apt to participate in criminal behavior than they were before they were incarcerated (due to inability to get a job, meeting the wrong people in prison, feeling like society has cast them out, etc…)

  • Matt Greenstein

    Greg,

    What has changed in 30 years? A black Democrat, Mayor Goode is who dropped a military grade bomb on the MOVE house in ’85 killing 12 people, half who were children. So because we have a black president now racism does not exist? There is no more police brutality? White people are now confronted by police at the same rates as blacks? If you don’t confront the past how will we change the future?

    You keep wanting to put the focus on the toxic sub culture of the city, I would have to agree with the comment posted above, where does this sub culture come from Greg? Hundreds of years of oppression? A white population that believes the past is irrelevant and looks to blame the victim? When for multiple generations an entire community has been victimized by police, disenfranchised from society, causing 1 out of 3 males to be incarcerated, you can’t say because Obama is president now that everything is OK.

    The inner city culture is created by politicians and organizations that ignore the inner city, deny funds for schools and civic groups making people under educated, under employed and feel as though they have no options in life. Then police target these communities at the highest rate in the state. By blaming the victims of police oppression you are ignoring the bigger problems and the big picture (which includes history) of why things are they way they are.

  • Jenny Olson

    To all,

    It is important to remember that this discussion is essentially about money. We incarcerate more people than many of the totalitarian “rouge” regimes we rage against. Can it be possible that one out of every one hundred people is really a “criminal”? The point I take from Matt G’s comments is that we have a real problem with the people that we are putting in jail and the lack of effectiveness it has on reducing crime. If we were truly putting the right people in jail and if the disproportionate number of minorities in jail is really because as Greg S says that’s where the crime is….. then why isn’t it helping? I think it is clear that there is a real problem with our criminal/judicial system. Probably unlike some in this conversation, I work in North Minneapolis (the typical target when talking about crime in MN) and see everyday the circumstances that you all speak of. Is there a crime problem …. YES, the question is how do we as a society deal with it responsibly, both morally and financially. It is clear to me that we should take the insane amount of money we spend on incarcerating people and put even a portion of that money into the communities and try to improve the conditions that breed crime. The only “myth” being put forward in this conversation is that every one in our country has an equal chance of being caught and incarcerated for their crimes. When someone steals a heater in the dead of winter from my place of employment because they are cold, they are much more likely to go to jail than a friend of mine who steals music or movies off of the internet for entertainment. We need to take a serious look at where our priorities are as a society. There are too many innocent people in jail, too many people who have made mistakes but are not criminals in jail (a woman just got sent to jail for sixty days for sending porn mags to a neighbor), and too many people who are left with too little legitimate options to avoid jail. I would hope that we could all agree that putting money into the before the crime aspects like improving neighborhoods and employment opportunities is much more valuable that putting money into the after the crime aspects like incarceration.

    One last note, I do feel that it is extremely important to pay attention and learn from examples like Ramona Africa of Move. We can debate on the extent to which systemic racism occurs today, but the important part is that as a society we acknowledge that it happened, happens and learn how to avoid it at all costs in the future. Matt G I appreciate the info on her speaking. The true measure of a person and a society is learning from mistakes.

  • GregS

    You keep wanting to put the focus on the toxic sub culture of the city, I would have to agree with the comment posted above, where does this sub culture come from Greg? Hundreds of years of oppression?

    No, the toxic culture of the inner-cities definitely DOES NOT come from a history of oppression, it is the legacy of the left.

    I grew up in the Selby-Dale neighborhood of Saint Paul. Most of my neighbors were poor, but in terms of social capital they were doing better than most white suburban neighborhoods are doing today.

    Then along came the left and the 1970′s/

    The social cost of sex, drugs and rock’n roll (read rap) was catastrophic. For the African-American community, it was a disaster. Just as the brass ring of economic opportunity came within reach, the inner-city imploded.

    This had nothing to do with “white oppression” or “cops”. It had everything to do with family formation and social capital.

    On an earlier point, you suggested we put MORE money into schools. Have you any clue how much money we put into schools?

    Look up the Minneapolis School District budget here

    The MPS budget is $654,453,751. Now divide that by the number of students, 34,570.

    That leaves a budget of a whopping $18,831 per student per year – which is 95% of what it costs to send a student to the three most expensive schools in the state.

    And the drop-out rate is 50%, clearly money does not equate to quality.

    So much for oppression.

  • GregS

    When someone steals a heater in the dead of winter from my place of employment because they are cold, they are much more likely to go to jail than a friend of mine who steals music or movies off of the internet for entertainment. We need to take a serious look at where our priorities are as a society. There are too many innocent people in jail

    Hold up there, Jenny.

    First of all, in Minneapolis, a burglar can be caught coming out your front door with all your earthly possessions and they will spend NO TIME IN JAIL.

    Now, read that again.

    We do not jail people for minor property crimes, even burglary. Burglars are booked and released with a citation, much like a parking ticket.

    Now if it is their 10th offense, they might spend some time.

    The same with drugs. No one goes to the joint for a joint in Minnesota.

    But if you have just raped a child, and you have crack on you, chances are your lawyer will plea it down to a drug offense.

    Let’s get real about what drug offenses really are…..they are the patina that covers a life of crime and violence.

    As for “does spending on crime work?”

    See my previous post.

    We spend $18,341 per year per student in the Minneapolis Schools and for that we get a 50% drop-out rate, is it just as fair to ask “does spending on schools work?”

    The simple fact is, the answer to both crime and school failure rests with individual values and attitudes, not with government.

    We need to change our thinking and start demanding more of people and less of government.

  • http://www.rebuildresources.com Lori Stee

    Too bad this forum has turned into a familiar–and frankly, boring–ideological slug-fest. There are lots of folks out here working hard to bridge gaps and work together. If anyone is interested in solution, I work for an organization that contributes much to the solution and costs NOTHING to taxpayers. Back to work for me…

    Thanks to MPR for contributing to the ongoing discussion!

    Lori Stee

  • Jenny Olson

    Greg,

    I’m very sorry this topic enrages you so much. My point was simply that it is not cost effective to incarcerate people at the current rate. If it was we would not be sitting on an MPR blog arguing about it. I was trying to bring up the point that there are issues that we can agree upon…. REDUCING CRIME. We have clearly tried your method of mass incarceration and it hasn’t worked! So how bout instead of arguing about specific words and sentences, we agree to try a little bit of both methods to reduce crime and help keep our society safe. We all agree that there are people that need to be in jail and what could really be the harm in putting money and energy into our struggling communities to make them more safe and productive. Also, there is a problem with drug offenses, the people who maybe should be in jail plead to drug offenses and people who should not be in jail are charged with drug offenses. So how about instead of railing against the left and talking about drugs, sex, and rock and roll we talk about reforming the drug laws. If you could talk about this issue without all of your anger maybe we would have been able to find some common ground. The problems with our system can be debated as to whose fault they were, but what’s the point? The real topic if this blog is that we are in serious financial times and our appetite for incarceration can no longer be supported. I truly believe that this will be a real opportunity to re examine some of current practices and hopefully lead to reform that is meaningful in real peoples’ lives. Although we disagree, we can’t change anything meaningfully without working with people we disagree with.

  • GregS

    Jenny,

    Mass incarceration is not the answer to anything, it is the consequence of mass criminality which in turn is the consequence of a 20 trillion dollar failure of social spending.

    If we spent less money and time enabling criminality, we might have less of it.

  • GregS

    9:09 a.m. – Perusing various newspapers, I see Arizona is kicking this around. One of the proposed cuts is to treatment programs for sex offenders. That sounds a little like the strategy — apparently — in these parts not to fill potholes. Is that really the way to approach this?

    You assume that sex offender treatment works. Is there anyone in the system who actually believes that?