Friday, August 4, 2017

Crime And Punishment

Sturm und Drang abounds over the "Murder-by-Text" trial (and as of yesterday the sentencing) of Michelle Carter.

The Hill, David Shapiro:

With the news in that a Massachusetts judge sentenced homicide-by-text defendant Michelle Carter to fifteen months in prison and six years on probation, many are outraged at the perceived leniency of the sentence.

They may have a point, but only because brutally harsh sentences have become the norm in American criminal justice, and with devastating effects. The past decades have witnessed massive “sentencing inflation” as periods of incarceration have become longer and longer.
In the past 40 years, the incarceration rate in the United States skyrocketed by 500 percent. The United States now locks up more of its people than Russia and China — some 2.2 million of us. According to the Sentencing Project, “Changes in law and policy, not changes in crime rates, explain most of this increase.” 

If Carter’s sentence seems short, it is because we are weighing it on a broken scale.
Increasing rates of incarceration at best has a minimal effect on crime, and may have no effect at all. In other words, mass incarceration is all about politics, not public safety.

We've been through a long and damaging period of "Law-n-Order" that's done little but make real the grotesque Dickensian villainy of the Prison Entrepreneur, and a Coin-Operated Justice System.

Maybe we're seeing something of a backlash now.

But we still have to contend with certain Daddy Staters, per Charlie Pierce:

Were you wondering if Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was still the prickly authoritarian yahoo that he's always been, now that he has gotten on the bad side of the president*? Wonder no longer, says The Washington Post.

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