UPDATED THREAD. You're going to hear a lot about how cops need more resources because "crime is surging" in the next few months. It's propaganda, and here's how you can respond:
First, what constitutes a "crime" is determined by people in power who have a lot of money.
Second, cops manipulate crime stats for political reasons. Cops don't even count the *violent and sexual crimes that cops commit,* which would entirely reverse the crime stats in every city and state.
Third, police ignore most "crime." They only look for *some* crimes committed by *some* people in *some* places. A school fight in a poor neighborhood is recorded as a “crime,” but a fight in a wealthy private school is not. Read hundreds of examples here: yalelawjournal.org/forum/the-puni…
Fourth, police have incentives to focus on some “crimes” and not others. They make billions of $ in overtime for low-level arrests. This is one reason cops have ignored 100,000s of untested rape kits while making record drug arrests for decades. ilr.law.uiowa.edu/print/volume-9…
Fifth, police corruption in search of extra cash and weapons affects all of what cops do and what they tell us about what they do. For example, police take more property through civil forfeiture than all “property crimes” combined.
Sixth, only 4% of all cop time goes to what they call "violent crime." And cops are terrible at solving "violent crime." Overwhelming evidence establishes that cops and prisons actually increase future “crime.” So, cops are terrible at preventing harm. nytimes.com/2020/06/19/ups…
Seventh, what cops call “crime” is different from what causes harm. E.g., tobacco kills 480,000 people every year in the U.S, including 41,000 from second-hand smoke. These preventable deaths dwarf police-reported data on deaths from the drugs cops call “crime.”
Eighth, the same is true of water/air pollution and fraudulent home foreclosures, all of which cause huge death rates that kill far more people than what cops call homicides. nytimes.com/2009/09/13/us/…
Ninth, wage theft by employers isn't in crime stats b/c it is almost never investigated by cops, but it costs low-wage workers an estimated $50 billion/year, dwarfing the cost of all cop-reported robberies, burglaries, larcenies, and car thefts combined.
Tenth, did you know that rich banks make about as much in fraudulent “overdraft” fees as all of what police call “property crime” combined in the U.S.? Did you know that none of this makes it into police “property crime” statistics? prospect.org/economy/big-ba…
Eleventh, these are millions of yearly white-collar “crimes” by big corporations and the wealthy people who own them but police don’t put them in their crime stats. Read more here about why cops distort the concepts of "crime" and actual harm. currentaffairs.org/2020/08/why-cr…
Twelfth, people will say: but even if "crime" is politicized and even if "violent crime" is actually down in 2021, "shootings" are up. Well, gun sales are up 40% and we’re in a global pandemic mental health crisis. Murder is a problem but not one related to more cops!
Thirteenth, the initial 2021 trend of more shootings is especially accelerated in places that increased police funding, and almost no city decreased police funding significantly. See a few examples:
Fourteenth, almost all reporting about a “crime surge” uses low base rates so that percentage changes can appear high. An increase of 10 shootings to 12 shootings is reported as a 20% increase!
Fifteenth, media often focuses on month to month or year to year numbers, emphasizing different crimes at different times if one goes up, obscuring larger trends like this: we have among lowest murders in last 50 years, and other countries with fewer cops have way fewer murders.
Sixteenth, cops/media thus cherry-pick data. The result of this manipulation is one of the big scandals of our time: for decades the public has hugely overestimated crime rates: fivethirtyeight.com/features/many-…
Seventeenth, there is no evidence that cops/prisons reduce any "crime," especially that they reduce crime *relative to other alternatives.* Think about what could have been done to help people with the trillions of dollars spent on the War on Drugs:
Eighteenth, people telling you to give more cash to cops b/c of “crime” don’t count the *costs*: millions of arrests; millions of separated kids; millions of lost jobs, homes, medical appointments; tens of millions of police assaults; hundreds of millions of criminal records.
Nineteenth, those calling for more cash for cops don't tell you that the trillions of dollars spent on police/prisons has been used by cops for total surveillance and to infiltrate and crush every single movement for social justice in the past 100 years.
Twentieth, the idea of “soaring” crime after a few dozen more shootings w/o reporting how many people died from unstable housing, lack of access to healthcare, pollution, or malnutrition is how elites keep us focused on solutions of control and profit and not liberation.
Finally, not all human tragedy is preventable, but quite a lot of it is, and accepting copaganda on “crime” and police data about that concept as a proxy for holistic public safety is the original sin of most writing in this topic.
Read more @interruptcrim and fight back against propaganda that wealthy interests and cop unions are feeding to us. interruptingcriminalization.com/cops-dont-stop…
I just did the @CitationsPod podcast with @adamjohnsonNYC and @WideAsleepNima featuring the brilliant @tamaranopper on all of these issues. Take a listen:
I've just added to this thread the most important, most comprehensive meta study ever conducted on the topic, showing that incarceration on balance does not improve (but harms) public safety, even as that term is narrowly defined by police and prosecutors.

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More from @equalityAlec

Jan 18
I wrote about how two Harvard professors accused me of trying to "censor" them when I showed their proposal to add 500,000 cops to arrest 7.8 million more people was riddled with dishonest errors. Then it got weirder. Students sent me the final exam question from Prof. Lewis.
Here is the background in case you missed it yesterday: equalityalec.substack.com/p/a-response-t…
Here is the mandatory exam question from the first-year criminal law class:
Read 12 tweets
Jan 17
Do you remember the two Harvard professors who wrote the article riddled with errors calling for 500,000 more cops? I learned last night that they circulated a PDF to other profs a couple months ago replying to my critique suggesting that I was trying to "censor" them.
Here was my critique. It's remarkable that, at a moment of *actual* censorship of professors in Florida and beyond, my thorough criticism of the dishonesty and poor arguments of two prominent Harvard profs is being framed as an attempt to "censor" them. equalityalec.substack.com/p/a-warning-to…
I'll have a post later today responding to their statement accusing me of censorship.
Read 4 tweets
Jan 16
Thread: Seven years ago, Christy Dawn Varden became the first person since the rise of mass incarceration to win a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. money bail system on equal protection and due process grounds. Her story is tragic, but important.
Like so many women separated from their children because they can't pay money bail, Christy was distraught. Like so many people in U.S. jails, when she was crying uncontrollably, Christy was strapped to a restraint chair and repeatedly Tased until she stopped screaming.
Christy was trapped in jail because she didn't have a few hundred dollars cash. She was accused of shoplifting from Walmart. It was January 15, 2015.
Read 11 tweets
Jan 15
THREAD. An interesting question is how the news media came to adopt the cute term "tear gas" to describe a chemical weapon that is internationally banned in war. Plus, it's not even a gas.
If you are a journalist, you should know that "tear gas" is a term of government propaganda used by U.S. officials to downplay the horror and international law violations associated with U.S. use of banned chemical weapons against Vietnamese people during the U.S. invasion.
As I've discussed before, one way that news media manipulates public thinking is through the choice of words that it uses. The use of "tear gas" obscures how harmful it is for government employees to unleash a chemical munitions agent on human bodies.
Read 6 tweets
Jan 14
The news media often suggests an equivalence between left-wing and right-wing "extremism." People on the far left want things like access to healthcare, housing, clean air, etc. People on the far right want to round up immigrants, kill abortion providers, deny the Holocaust, etc.
Some people in the news media (and in the left itself) may disagree with various tactics, strategies, policies of various people on the left, and those can be debated. But there is no denying among honest people the fundamental differences between left and right.
I could have listed 100 other characteristics of left and right. As you move down the spectrum--the 20% closest to the left and 20% closest to the right--characteristics are striking: a concern for life, love, human and ecological flourishing vs. hate, surveillance, exclusion.
Read 4 tweets
Jan 10
THREAD. Yesterday, I wrote about how the news shapes our thinking by the sheer volume of stories on different issues. But there is surprisingly little public discussion, even among journalists, about the *ways* in which those stories are delivered to us, and how that is changing.
For example, dedicated teams at big media outlets now spend a lot of time and money deciding which of the stories of a given news outlet to promote in various ways, including by marketing them on social media and, increasingly, by sending urgent push notifications to our phones.
Business executives, with their own incentives, fairly homogeneous backgrounds, and a narrow range of political and cultural associations also make editorial decisions about which stories get daily follow up in these ways and more:     Which stories get sent ...
Read 8 tweets

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