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Better Economic Prospects, Not Incarceration, Behind US Crime Decline

in Criminal Justice, Economic Liberty, Economics, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Taxes by Alice Salles Comments are off

Better Economic Prospects, Not Incarceration, Behind US Crime Decline

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

For the past two decades, crime in the United States has declined considerably. Compared to the crime rate of the early 1990s, US crime rates have fallen about half while violent crime has fallen by 51 percent. Between 1991 and now, property crime has fallen by 43 percent.

Sign But while many understand that better economic prospects tend to help keep the crime rate low, many tend to attribute the considerable reduction to a series of factors that, when closely reviewed, have little to do with safety.

Some of the most common arguments brought up by experts include the expansion of enforcement agencies, “tough on crime” policies, and increasing incarceration rates. Some have even gone as far as claiming that legalized abortions had helped to boost safety, ignoring the fact that abortion rates have declined over the past decades.

But according to research on the subject by New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice, socio-economic factors, not mass incarceration, has helped reduce the crime rates across the country.

According to the paper, increasing incarceration has had no effect on the drop in crime rates since 2000. When it comes to violent crime, the rate is also close to zero. States like Texas, California, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York have all seen a drop in crime as incarceration rates have also dropped.

Between 2000 and 2013, the study concludes, growth in income and decreased alcohol consumption have been the top factors responsible for the drop in crime, along with a boost in consumer confidence. Between 1990 and 1999, factors that helped to push crime rates down included decreased unemployment, growth in income, decreased alcohol consumption, and increased incarceration and police numbers.

But as the number of police officers increases, the number of low-level offenders behind bars shoots up. According to Brennan Center for Justice, the fact we have more low-level offenders in jail now than before impacts the crime reduction effect.

From the study:

“The incarceration rate jumped by more than 60 percent from 1990 to 1999, while the rate of violent crime dropped by 28 percent. In the next decade, the rate of incarceration increased by just 1 percent, while the violent crime rate fell by 27 percent.”

During a recent justice reform event organized by the grassroots organization FreedomWorks, Molly M. Gill, a former prosecutor who’s now the Director of Federal Legislative Affairs for Families Against Mandatory Minimums Foundation (FAMM), pointed out that “very few violent offenders end up in federal prisons.” Instead of violent criminals, federal prisons hold a great number of non-violent drug offenders, who account for more than 25 percent of the federal budget every year. Instead of rehabilitating them once they are inside the system, U.S. Justice Action Network Deputy Director Jenna Moll told attendees, prisons are often seen as the easy way out. During the FreedomWorks event, Moll also talked to attendees. She pointed out that a “national survey found prisoners prefer one year in prison versus five years probation,” adding that “if even prisoners know” prison is “the easy way out,” it proves that the system is not working.

In a 2000 article for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), economics professor Bruce Benson explained that, while few studies on the matter have been carried out, “Private security employment has accelerated since 1970,” leading him to believe that the “private security market … the second fastest growing industry in the United States” may have something to do with the drop in crime rates. To the economist, private-sector responses to crime should be studied as a major factor behind crime decline.

They Said It… Glenn Greenwald, Jimmy Fallon And More!

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 25 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

THANKS: “Gas Prices: From $3.68 to $2.53 per gallon in 6 months, Thank You Big Oil, Price Manipulators and Greedy Speculators!” — tweet from economist Mark J. Perry, Dec. 15, 2014.

WE HAVE A WINNER: “The undisputed winner in this year’s ‘Worst Idea at the Wrong Time’ category is the poor suburb of Ferguson, Missouri … in order to close a municipal budget gap — and keep in mind the prevailing poverty in the region has been widely attributed as one of the reasons for the escalating violence on either side of the law — Ferguson plans to boost revenue from public-safety fines… This means that local cops will now have an even bigger, and more aggressive quota of miscellaneous, petty offenses to fill, in order to collect money from an already impoverished population, and in the process antagonize said population even further, more than likely leading to the same if not worse outcomes that caused the riots in the first place.” — Tyler Durden, “And The Winner In The ‘Worst Idea at the Wrong Time’ Category Is…” Zero Hedge, Dec. 13, 2014.

LESS LAWS = LESS POLICE HARASSMENT: “We have criminalized so many behaviors (in the Staten Island case, selling packs of cigarettes!) that we have given the police enormous pressure to perform — and gigantic latitude to act on prejudice, bigotry, and simple anger. The police, in their defense, have an impossible job. They have come to see almost everyone around them, every day, as a lawbreaker and a danger to society. … The answer is not better police or more enlightened officials. The answer is fewer laws. Decriminalize normal nonviolent daily activity, and the police will have fewer excuses to harass people they don’t like — people who often can’t fight back.” — “Michael Munger, “The System Protects the System,” Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Dec. 10, 2014.

Glenn GreenwaldSILENCING THE VICTIMS: “Ever since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture, not even the ones recognized by the U.S. government itself as innocent, not even the family members of the ones they tortured to death. Whether by design (most likely) or effect, this inexcusable omission radically distorts coverage. … If you don’t hear from the human beings who are tortured, it’s easy to pretend nothing truly terrible happened. That’s how the War on Terror generally has been ‘reported’ for 13 years and counting: by completely silencing those whose lives are destroyed or ended by U.S. crimes.”— journalist Glenn Greenwald, ” U.S. TV Provides Ample Platform for American Torturers, But None to Their Victims,” The Intercept, Dec. 16, 2014.

THEY’RE WATCHING:
Jimmy Fallon“Over the weekend the co-chair of Sony Entertainment broke her silence about the recent hacking scandal to apologize for some offensive emails she sent about President Obama. In response, Obama said, ‘Don’t worry. I secretly read those emails months ago.’” — Jimmy Fallon, the Tonight Show, Dec. 15, 2015.

Liberty in This Season of Giving

in Liberator Online by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Powerpoint section in Volume 19, No. 25 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Want to give your family and friends a gift they’ll treasure?

Want to shower them with values beyond measure?

Freely email them three or four of the most thought-provoking libertarian essays that you’ve read in the last six months. From the Liberator Online, LewRockwell.com, FEE, Reason, the Libertarian Party, or other sources you like and trust.

Freely email them links to the best SHORT (4-8 minutes) persuasive libertarian videos posted on YouTube.

Buy and give them copies of a personal, practical, and principled libertarian book. Christmas giftsChoose one that’s appropriate for where they are in their interest in liberty. Some suggestions: Libertarianism in One Lesson, David Bergland’s acclaimed short introduction to libertarianism. Healing Our World, Mary Ruwart’s warm-hearted and well-documented look at libertarianism, or Short Answers to the Tough Questions: Expanded Edition, her essential resource for libertarian activists.  Jim Cox’s entertaining and enlightening book of economic haiku, The Haiku EconomistSecrets of Libertarian Persuasion and Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion, my two books on the best ways to persuade others to embrace libertarianism. These and many more are offered at the Advocates for Self-Government online store.

Give the gift of liberty to those you love.

It’s the gift they will cherish year after year.

Cosmic Bowling, Gutterballs and Liberty

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online, One Minute Liberty Tip by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A couple of weeks ago I found myself giving bowling lessons — of a sort — to a Sharon Harris - Bowlinggroup of bright young libertarians.

More specifically, I demonstrated to them the fine art of… throwing gutterballs. Over and over. Right and left. How embarrassing!

Thankfully, I wasn’t there to teach these young libertarians bowling. The bowling event — “Cosmic Bowling” — was just a fun extracurricular evening activity at the Foundation for Economic Education’s “Communicating Liberty 2014: Advanced Training” seminar in Atlanta. This great event brought libertarian communication ideas to some of the brightest young minds in the liberty movement.

Forty outstanding student alumni of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) summer programs attended the invitation-only event. Without exception, the students I met and talked with were smart, articulate, and enthusiastic proponents of the ideas of liberty. What a joy it was to meet them!

Communication Training - AtlantaI had the pleasure of giving a libertarian communication workshop — sharing the very best tools, techniques and tips on communicating the ideas of liberty. The students were eager to learn and practice the libertarian communication essentials I presented.

FEE brought together a truly outstanding combination of student leaders and libertarian communicators. Speakers included Bob Ewing of the Mercatus Center, Anna Ridge of the Charles Koch Institute, and of course Lawrence Reed, president of FEE and one of the finest spokesmen for liberty of our time.

I left the event humbled by my bowling abilities — but excited about the future of liberty in America. With such gifted and enthusiastic young people gearing up to be the liberty leaders of the next generation, the future looks bright indeed!

FEE is doing outstanding work with its outreach to young people, and I was proud to be a part of this great program. FEE is the oldest libertarian think tank in America — it is impossible to imagine today’s libertarian movement without its pioneering work — and it continues to do cutting-edge essential work in educating the public and reaching out to rising young libertarian leaders to prepare them to be ambassadors for liberty.

I strongly recommend that Liberator Online readers learn more about the great things FEE is doing.

To learn more about Advocates libertarian communication workshops, visit here.