As "defunding the police" continues to pick up steam, I think it may be helpful to appreciate the relatively minor role formal enforcement actually plays, and thus why investing in alternatives makes so much sense.
Start here: ~50% of violence, 65% of prop crime NEVER REPORTED.
Next: of those crimes that do get reported, about 30% to 40% of violent crimes, 15% of property crimes yield an arrest.
So we are at 20% of viol victims see an arrest, 5% of prop crimes see an arrest.
Only a fraction of crimes enter the system at all.
Now, to be clear, clearance rates (like 911 calls) are not a complete picture of police efficacy.
Officers standing at the corner, walking the beat, etc., may prevent all sorts of crimes without needing make an arrest. In fact, that's likely their most effective impact.
Given the 625,000 releases from prison and 10,000,000 releases from jails--and given the trauma ppl experience in prison and jails and our inadequate re-entry policies--it will ALWAYS be possible to find a striking salient case of reoffending to hype up.
This is, ofc, the bread and butter of tough-on-crime politicians, law enforcement officials, and the media who support them (hi, @nypost).
But important to note something about this effort to weaponize the "Willie Horton Effect": we have NO real evidence if it actually matters.
Basically, it’s a lifetime false-positive batting average. If you strictly hold to the 5% level, then in cases where you could make a false positive claim (there is no relationship, but you think there could be), you’ll falsely find an effect ~5% of the time.
It doesn’t say anything about this specific paper you’re reading.
It doesn’t say anything about how often you make false negative errors (when there IS an effect, but you say “nah”).
And that’s before you get to the flagrant corruption that shows how little we get it:
1. Honest question: have any high-profile pundits, policy makers, or (sigh) “influencers” provided a nuanced take on Bevins? Or linked the Bevins coverage to Cuomo’s dismal pardoning practices or the recent PA parole board fiasco?
Because it matters.
2. The public as a whole is profoundly misinformed about prisons.
They think abt 50% of all ppl are in for drugs. It’s 15%.
55% are in for violence. Those serving long terms (where parole/commutations matter most)? Over 95% in for SERIOUS violence.
3. As a result, even liberals are unwilling to rethink how we punish violence.
As the screaming over Bevins, and silence over PA Board of Pardons, makes clear.
We have convinced ourselves we can solve this easily. We cannot.
As banks divest from private prisons (which hold ~8% of all ppl in prison), my understanding is that they seem quite interested in underwriting, say, the bond issue that NYC’s new ~$10B jail plan requires.
Yes, murder jumped by 20%—because it was already so LOW. And it jumped from historic lows to near-historic lows, and is now heading back to… historic lows.
3. Rosen engages in some flagrant obfuscation. He states that targeting violence keeps us safe (debatable, and will come back to this), then attacks DAs who propose categorical denials as making us less safe.
But NONE has proposed categorial declines for violence.