I read this post by @DavidAFrench to hear his arguments and heart. That said, this essay suffers from the same problems most analyses on crime and punishment in this country do: 1) a lack of specificity, 2) misplaced sympathies, 3) and an unwillingness to assess tradeoffs.
As is often the case in this area, David never says WHY people in this country are incarcerated. Before I do that, it is helpful to know what the ecosystem of confinement looks like. There are about 630K ppl in local jails.
Some are awaiting trial, some are serving short sentences (< 1 yr), and some are serving the final stretch of a longer prison sentence. There are about 160K ppl in federal prison. About 45% are in for serious drug trafficking and another 40% for Public Order crimes [Table 15].
The largest part of the confinement ecosystem is the state prison system. This is where over 1.2M people are incarcerated. If you let “criminal justice” reformers tell it, you’d think most are there for low-level nonviolent drug crimes. But that is simply untrue.
More than half (55%) of all prisoners are there for violent offenses, including murder, rape, robbery, and assault. About 16% are locked up for property crimes, 12% for public order, and only 14% for drugs. Yes, you read that right. FOURTEEN PERCENT for drug crimes [Table 13].
And lest you think there is some hidden racial disparity that explains this, please note that there is a higher % of whites (16%) in prison for drugs than blacks (13%). The unfortunate fact is that violent offenses are what drive the racial disparity in incarceration.
There are more black people incarcerated for murder alone (70,800) than all drug crimes (52,100) [Table 14]. This is the bookend to another sad reality—the fact that the black homicide victimization rate is about 6x higher than that of whites.
All of the available data (CDC, FBI, local crime statistics) supports this claim. We never hear about it because the people who write about these issues are long on rhetoric about justice and “mass incarceration” but short on actual data.
As is the case in many other areas of American life, the people with the loudest megaphones have NO IDEA what they are talking about. They make arguments based on well-worn talking points, euphemisms, and a desire to look like compassionate, empathetic people.
This inability or unwillingness to deal honestly with the data causes the second problem—misplaced sympathies. You hear it even in how the issues are framed—CRIMINAL justice vs. PUBLIC safety. So French and others think America has an “over incarceration” problem.
But he never says what the appropriate level of incarceration should be. Reformers never do. They note a disparity and assume the main problem is the effect, not the cause. He also notes that prison doesn’t have the rehabilitative effects many citizens desire.
But what people who live FAR from belly of the beast fail to realize is that while it is amazing to see a person turn their life around in prison, the main point of removing ppl from society is to PROTECT the law-abiding and innocent from the law-breaking and guilty.
I highly doubt French would argue that we should rethink prosecuting hate crimes because perpetrators may become even more racist in prison. And I certainly don’t see him writing an article in The Root explaining to black people why such a move would advance the cause of justice.
Lastly, there is the issue of policy trade-offs. If reformers think that theft under $1000 should not be prosecuted, they should be prepared to speak honestly about the effects that decision will have on the victims—whether CVS or the mom-and-pop store—and the community at large.
Same with other offenses, including violent ones. When order declines—often abetted by bad public policy—the slide into chaos is quick and costly. Reformers talk a good game until the first shot pierces their window or until their child is the one who is carjacked at gunpoint.
The truth is, given the right circumstances, we ALL desire vengeance. Prioritizing the guilty over the innocent is not a standard of justice I recognize, whether from the Bible or or any other source.

Source data: bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pd…

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More from @DelanoSquires

12 Sep
I see the conservative rejection of race labels (eg, hyphenated Americans) as a desire to encourage a single national identity as “Americans”. The conservatives cheering for Tamara Mensah-Stock did so because they see her primarily American, not her ethnic identity.
That said, I agree that there are cultural histories and norms specific to groups within the broader culture. I think it’s unwise to act as if that diversity of experience doesn’t exist or matter. HBCUs, Ebony and Jet, the “black church”, etc. all came to be in a specific..
historical context. Those things, as well as the Knights of Columbus, zydeco music, and the tradition of bagpipes in the NYPD all add to the rich tapestry which constitutes American history. The challenge is forging a national identity out of all of that.
Read 6 tweets
10 Sep
Hey @rolandsmartin, It’s bad journalism (and manners) to ask someone a question, not allow them to answer, and insert your own response.

Your problem is you think I’m a partisan like you. I can assure you I’m not. I have certain values that are anchored in a biblical worldview.
That’s why I believe that people are made in the image of God and that their value is inherent—NOT dependent on whether they are wanted by their parents, how they were conceived, or how other people feel about them.
You have guests who compare women who travel cross-state for an abortion to slaves searching for freedom on the Underground Railroad. They see FEWER black kids being born as a form of liberation.
Read 13 tweets
26 Jul
My goal in responding is to be as charitable in my understanding of your positions and gracious in my response as befits two brothers in Christ. You didn’t have to say “all abt racist policies in the past”. What you left out of your assessment of black life says it for you.
@DavidAFrench For example, you tie redlining to wealth disparities btwn groups. No one denies that inheritance passed down through generations contributes to wealth. So does income. Yet you never mention how differences in marriage rates & households impact income & wealth.
So if you don’t believe the issue is racist policy whites must remedy, please share what specific issues you believe black people are responsible for fixing ourselves.
Read 9 tweets
13 May
A few more words on Fault Lines. One thing I appreciate about @VoddieBaucham is that he makes his positions and arguments using clear language. One of the worst parts of the SJ/CRT/Antiracist movements, both in and outside the church, is that it has turned people (esp. men) 1/12
Into mealy-mouthed euphemism machines who constantly change the meaning of words to fit whatever ideology they’re pushing. They are intentionally vague so that they can come back and say “well that’s not what I meant”. Plausible deniability may make for good political drama 2/12
But it only makes productive debate that much more difficult. And debate is actually what we need here. No more “you’re not reading the right scholars” or “they’re trying to please white folks”. If you’re a Christian and you believe “whiteness” is a biblical concept that is 3/12
Read 12 tweets

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