American Elephants


America Doesn’t Have an Incarceration Problem, It Has a Crime Problem by The Elephant's Child

“In New York City the number of annual murders peaked at 2,245 —a rate  of six per day—in 1990, the first year the Democrat David Dinkins was mayor. After Republican Rudolph Giuliani took office in 1994, there were 1,177 murders in 1995 and 770 in 1997. By 2013, however, New Yorkers had only faint memories of walking the streets in constant fear.” That ‘s from William Voegeli’s essay in Commentary magazine from July 1, 2015.  “Democrats.” he said, “are gearing up to reverse decades of successful policing.

Voegeli reviews the history of our views on crime and punishment, as the political football it usually is. Hillary Clinton made crime the subject of her first major policy address of her 2016 presidential campaign. She called for creating new approaches that would “end the era of mass incarceration” as well as “working with communities to prevent crime, rather than measuring success just by the number of arrests or convictions.”

Heather MacDonald is having none of that. She says America doesn’t have an incarceration problem—it has a crime problem.

President Obama made a press saturated visit to a federal penitentiary in Oklahoma in 2015. “The cell blocks that Obama toured had been evacuated in anticipation of his arrival, but after talking to six carefully prescreened inmates, he drew some conclusions about the path to prison. “These are young people who made mistakes that aren’t that different than the mistakes I made and the mistakes that a lot of you guys made,” the president told the waiting reporters.

The New York Times suggested that there is a fine line between a president and a prisoner. Anyone who had smoked marijuana and tried cocaine could end up in federal prison. Heather MacDonald disagreed.

This conceit was preposterous. It takes a lot more than marijuana or cocaine use to end up in federal prison. But the truth didn’t matter. Obama’s prison tour came in the midst of the biggest delegitimation of law enforcement in recent memory. Activists, politicians, and the media have spent the last year broadcasting a daily message that the criminal-justice system is biased against blacks and insanely draconian. The immediate trigger for that movement, known as Black Lives Matter, has been a series of highly publicized deaths of black males at the hands of the police. But the movement also builds on a long-standing discourse from the academic Left about “mass incarceration,” policing, and race.

September 2015, “Black Lives Matter goes to the White House”

The Obama White House rolled out the red carpet this week for leaders of the racist revolutionary Black Lives Matter movement, providing yet more confirmation that the Obama administration supports its members’ increasingly violent activism.

Black Lives Matter is animated not only by anti-white racism but by a hatred of normal American values, including law and order. Its members denounce the U.S. for imagined institutional racism and discrimination against African-Americans. Members idolize convicted, unrepentant cop-killers Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu Jamal, both of whom are black, and have declared “war” on law enforcement. Its members openly call for police officers to be assassinated.

Yesterday, President Obama commuted the sentences of 61 drug offenders. These were not sentences for selling marijuana, but for dealing in hard and dangerous substances—crack, coke and PCP. The recidivism rate for offenders who commit such crimes exceeds 75 percent within five years, and that’s just the ones who are caught. Drug crimes usually go unreported because customers and dealers don’t report them. This ignores the heroin epidemic that is growing across the nation.

The President claims that the most important thing we can do is reduced the demand for drugs. He has asked for an additional $1 billion for treatment, and drug crimes must be treated as a public health problem, not a criminal problem.

One expert, Columbia University neuropsychopharmacologist Carl Hart explicitly made the case that “drug addiction is a health problem that requires treatment” is exactly the wrong way to look at the use of drugs in the United States.

“Politicians today, whether Republican or Democrat, are comfortable with saying that we don’t want to send people to jail for drugs; we will offer them treatment.” Hart said in Austin. But “the vast majority of people don’t need treatment. We need better public education, and more realistic education. And we’re not getting that.”

Why does he say most people don’t need treatment? Because—contrary to widespread perceptions—the vast majority of drug users aren’t addicts. “When I say drug abuse and drug addiction, I’m thinking of people whose psycho-social functioning is disrupted,” he said later in the talk. But for more than three-quarters of drug users (and we’re not just talking about marijuana here, either), that description doesn’t apply.

This overturns the conventional wisdom on drug addiction, but Hart thinks that’s a good thing. We’ve all been fed a diet of panic-inducing misinformation about what drugs actually do to our brains, he says.

I think #Black Lives Matter, the incarceration “problem, ” the commutation of sentences for drug dealers is all just a case of community organizing to get black Americans to the polls to vote to win an election. Too many “coincidences” and red flags go up.


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