RE: politically insane

From: Jonathan Davis (
Date: Tue 09 Sep 2003 - 12:53:06 GMT

  • Next message: Douglas Brooker: "Re: politically insane"

    Hi John,

    -----Original Message----- From: John Croft [] Sent: 08 September 2003 16:50 To: Subject: politically insane

    [Jonathan 1]I also note the Michael Mooresque moan about incarceration rates and black Americans. The simple and horrible truth is that the incarceration rates reflect the offending rates perfectly. You does the crime , you does the time.

    The Americans have enjoyed an enormous drop in crime over the last The recent peaceful blackout in New York is an excellent example of how much things have improved. Simply contrast the riots in 1977 with last months peaceful and relatively crime free blackout.
      That great society is defeating crime, we ought to imitating their success.

    [John 1] Interesting that during this time the number of people incarcerated rose from 200,000 in the 1970's to 2.3 million people today, with a further 1.8 million out on early release schemes and parole. You surely cannot be arguing for fifteen fold increase in the crime rates since 1970?

    [Jonathan 2] No, I am not arguing about crime rates here - I don't know the facts. I do know that US crime has dropped significantly and part of the reason is attributed to higher incarceration rates.

    [John 1] The chief reasons for the increase in crime rates seem to have been due to the privatisation of the industry and a powerful lobby in politics to "get tough on crime" even when crime figures were improving.

    [Jonathan 2] Whilst I accept that the security lobby (and that includes the police) have an interest in exaggerating crime, I do not see how the increase in crime rates can be attributed to privatisation of the industry and a powerful lobby in politics getting tough on crime. Am I right in thinking you are saying that "tough on crime" measures aggravate crime rates?

    [John 1] Regarding the figures for black imprisonment, it is true that the figures are disproportionate. It is interesting that most states now spend more on incarcerating their black male youth than educating them.

    [Jonathan 2] That African-Americans are a deeply troubled group is obvious. Regarding education versus crime fighting budgets, it is possible, given the scale of Afro-American criminality and the crisis in education of Afro-American males, that they overlap. I do not think this significant, just a sad indication of the state of that community.

    [John 1] It is also interesting that figures show that fewer blacks than whites are represented by top lawyers,

    [Jonathan 2] This is simple economics. You get what you pay for. African-Americans are poorer than other groups therefore it is not surprising they buy fewer top lawyers. That said, it does not even begin to explain why so many crimes are committed by African Americans. The most interesting statistics are those based on victim reports. These figures are not corrupted by any possible unfairness in the justice system but simply tell us some basic facts about offenders in various classes. You will find that there is a strong correlation between conviction rates and offending rates as signalled by such reports. The FBI keeps detailed statistics on this if you are interested in checking up on this.

    [John 1] ...more [African-Americans] are encouraged to plead guilty on promises of leniency.

    [Jonathan 2] They are the majority in the justice system. Urban African-Americans males under 25 make up "well over half (and nearly three quarters) of violent offenders"
    ( - citing Miethe & McCorkle 1998). A common complaint is that the war of drugs unfairly targets blacks and this accounts for the figures. As these statistics on violent crime show, that hypothesis is not sound.

    [John 1] The rate of offending black versus white is not the same rate as the rate of incarceration.

    [Jonathan 2] Correct. But as I have mentioned above, by virtually any measure African-Americans are massively over-represented in criminality indices. The rate of incarceration reflects this.

    [John 1] Blacks tend to attract more custodial sentencies, for longer periods than whites found guilty of the same crime.

    [Jonathan 2] So what? This implies that the system is unfair to blacks, but there is no evidence of this. Firstly, some group has to have slightly longer averages. Absolute parity would be impossible. Secondly, the explanations for this discrepancy are manifold. For example, the longer sentences may because of aggravating circumstances or prior criminal records. A criminal before the courts for his third felony will attract a longer sentence than someone who has never been convicted before.

    [John 1]We have similar circumstances facing our Australian Aboriginal populations in Australia.

    [Jonathan 2] Like America you probably have an underclass that is deteriorating. Given 30 years of social engineering has failed, maybe the retributive method ought to be tried? It is working in America, even if the social costs to some communities is very high. Perhaps some form of operant conditioning will occur at a macro-level?

    [John 1] Hope this helps explain the situation better.

    [Jonathan 2] Certainly made me think, so thank John!



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