Currently viewing the tag: "criminal justice"
  • bwi2ygrlc4ycuehzeek2Oh, here are some things I have written lately, like “Advocating For the Next War Means Forgetting History” for Antiwar. Also, my VICE piece — most successful ever, yes I watch the shiny clicks happens — on cops shooting people holding (non-firearm) weapons. Also, my new VICE piece — not nearly so successful — on the idea of feds fixing local cops. 
  • Hey, Dad‘s Dogging Steinbeck was reviewed in The Daily Caller! Best of all, reviewed by a creative nonfiction writer who uncomfortably concluded that Dad had a point with his Steinbeck annoyance. (Thanks, Jordan Bloom, for finding a worthy reviewer!)
  • Allah Pundit linked to me, other less important people, while musing on Rand Paul’s interventionism levels.
  • And hey, I ranted about the police on Saturday Night Cigar Lounge over at Vigilant Liberty Radio. (My segment starts at 33’45).
  • Here’s Pat Buchanan on ISIS, the why and the what to do
  • Headlines from the start of World War II (no offense, Manchuria).
  • Matt Welch gives Rand Paul credit on criminal justice reform — something he deserves, no matter what else happens.
  • Reminder that Jeff Mizanskey is serving life in prison without parole for marijuana-related crimes. This, unclever liberals and conservatives who say libertarians are just Republicans who want to smoke pot, is why we hate you when you say that.
  • Policy Mic writer confused that the decreasing threat of new gun regulations has lead to fewer sales of “assault” rifles. How is that surprising?
  • WTF, DHS
  • Oldie, but goodie: Cathy Young is reasonable and non-panicked in respect to the issue of online harassment. Violent threats are disturbing and should not be excused as just trolling, HOWEVER, if you read Jezebel, similar, you will see unqualified statements about the life of being a woman online being one of endless harassment. Knock on wood, but that has not ever been the case for me. Nor are these handful of disturbing stories acceptable proof that this problem is as widepsread as people are making it out to be. Again, people being told they will be raped and murder, not okay. Thankfully, it might be rarer than it seems.
  • This piece mentions the word “taxi” once — “What happens when the local taxi companies are destroyed[?]” Well, people in Pittsburgh might be able to get a ride somewhere, for one. Critique Uber all you like, but if you want me to take you remotely seriously, don’t use “hyper-capitalism” and try to have the slightest idea what you’re talking about in terms of transportation regulations. 
  • Also today in nope: Nope, Melissa Harris-Perry. Rand Paul deserves more criminal justice points than Obama. Sorry.
  • Nope, Taylor Swift is not obligated to do anything, or sing about anything. The world is always going to shit, which is exactly the reason some people like stupid songs about “haters.”
  • And nope, the ice bucket challenge isn’t bad because…uh…people in other countries are suffering. I don’t even know.
  • Here is a Guardian sentence: “If you see yourself as a left-leaning progressive parent, you might want to exercise some of that oppressive parental control and limit your kids exposure to the “freedom” expressed in YA dystopian fiction.” I see you reaching feebly for self-awareness, but it’s too late. Yes, stop the children from reading The Hunger Games. Katnis is such a horrible model for children, with her self-sacrifice, bravery, and desire to live without government oppressing her. Damn those books for suggesting that war is horrible — even wars of liberation — and may leave you with PTSD and a worse, or equally bad government. Ugh. I might need to write more on this topic, for the troll is strong.
  • I find Jerry Springer singing about Cincinnati sort of entrancing, yet disturbing. (H/T: Jesse Walker)
  • Empire Records is not a very good movie, and yet 1) I read this entire piece, 2) When my sister’s friend from Canada was visiting, the two of them watched the movie 2.75 times, and I watched it three times, and each time I was totally too young to know what was going on. 3) At least it’s not Reality Bites, because God damn that movie is the worst.
  • These are the vaccines you’re looking for.
  • Why Doctor Who gets us right in the gut.

Videos of the day:

John Doe and the Sadies cover Johnny Cash

Sam Quinn, whose music is so good, and so not very available to share with the people, does a version of “Peggy-O.” I wish I could share his live version of the Juicy Fruit jingle. It is truly inspired.

We should take his guitar so we can be REALLY tough on crime!

We should take his guitar so we can be REALLY tough on crime!

Below is a guest post by Cory Massimino, a blogger for Students for Liberty. Prison abolitionism is an intriguing idea, one that interests me but I have yet to explore in depth. Unafraid, Massimino goes there and argues that prisons — even for the violent individuals who may “deserve it” — have no place in the ideal libertarian society.

Let us know how you feel in the comments.

The prison system as we know it is commonly regarded as disgusting, brutal, unethical, and the antithesis to anything and everything libertarians stand for. America’s prisons are funded with money expropriated from tax payers, awarded to politically connected prison contractors, to cage human beings largely charged with only harming themselves. Every step of the way, the modern prison system is structured in such a way that benefits politicians, police unions, and prison contractors, at the expense of tax payers, minorities, harmless drug users, and others guilty of the state-created fairy tale known as “victimless crimes.”

What would an ideal prison system look like? Libertarians and others with a yearning for justice suspect it would be a much smaller institution, in place only to put away those in society that are truly guilty of wrong doing, such as murders, thieves, and rapists. They don’t want it to be abused by politicians, unions, and crony capitalists. They want it to be a truly blind system, that doesn’t disproportionately put away minorities and provides true justice. While I share these admirable goals, I believe the prison system should not only be shrunken, but abolished all together on both ethical and pragmatic grounds.

Libertarians are dedicated to the idea of non-aggression. We believe the initiation of force is wrong, and the only time aggression is justified is in self-defense. While this is the core of libertarian ethics, it is not the whole story.

Suppose I just don’t like your face and decide to step on your toe. I have aggressed against you and violated your rights. Since you are now justified in retaliating, would it be ethically allowed for you to shoot me? You are allowed to retaliate, but that doesn’t mean any and all actions you take are justified. While you would not exactly be initiating force against me, your act of retaliation (shooting me) is not proportional to my use of force (stepping on your toe), and is, therefore, not ethically allowed. While we must refrain from initiating force, we must also refrain from using a disproportionate amount of retaliatory force. If you shot me for stepping on your toe, you would be acting disproportionately, and that counts as aggression.

It follows then, that libertarians are dedicated to a strict use of the term “self-defense.” We can act aggressive insofar as that aggression is needed to defend ourselves or make ourselves whole. For example, if you stole my cell phone, I can capture you and force you to give my cell phone back. If you had lost or destroyed my cell phone before I captured you, you would be ethically required to make me whole to the best of your ability; to pay restitution. Depending on certain cultural and legal norms, you would have to buy me a new cell phone, or give me the monetary equivalent of my cell phone, or any other similar actions.

This has certain implications for the use of punishment in society. In fact, it means coercion for the sake of punishment is morally unjustified, since punishing someone for the sake of punishment goes beyond acting out of mere self-defense. While we may have inclinations to act out of revenge or payback, we can’t justify coercion in the name of solely inflicting suffering because that would be a disproportionate use of force. The only justification for the continuous restraining of people, like a prison does, would be in the case of people who just won’t stop committing crimes; repeat offenders. A society based on restitution and making the victim whole, rather than punishment is the realization of non-aggression and proportionality.

What do we make of the pragmatic objections to a restitution-based, prison-free justice system? The most common objection is what do we do with criminals? We must acknowledge that in a free society, the amount of “criminals” would be dramatically less than it is now. The prison system cages millions of non-violent drug offenders that would be free to do what they wish to their own body in a free society.

Okay, but what about the current prisoners who did commit a real crime, such as murder, rape or theft? What do we do with them? No doubt, people who commit these crimes, under most circumstances, are despicable, wretched individuals. But we must acknowledge that many crimes are done in the heat of the moment to people the perpetrator personally knows. Committing a single crime is not, in itself, a sign that you will commit another one or that you are an ongoing threat. Simple restitution seems appropriate in the cases where people are not expected to be repeat offenders.

Alright, what, then, do we do with true criminals — the murderers, the rapists, the thieves, that are repeat offenders? I strongly suspect that private companies, instead of spending money to build large buildings to house this small number of repeat offenders, would find it profitable to use a system similar to that of house arrest. It would be more efficient to use technology and guards on call to restrain people to their homes than to transport them all to a single, large location.

Furthermore, restitution would act as a deterrent for committing criminal acts and some kind of insurance scheme described by economist Robert Murphy in Chaos Theory, which would be used to determine and know people’s criminal history, could create incentives to remain peaceful through charging higher or lower premiums.

Libertarians ought not only object to the modern, crony infested prison system that commits heinous crimes on a daily basis, but also support the abolition of prisons all together. Taken to its logical conclusions, the non-aggression principle and the principle of proportionality require the end to all prisons and pragmatic considerations only reinforce our case against them. Prisons have no place in a free society.

Who will build the prisons in Libertopia? No one.

Cory Massimino studies economics at Seminole State University and blogs for Students For Liberty. He spends his time ranting about the government and educating people on basic economics. Follow him on Twitter

After over 1,600 days in office, one rhetorical but unreal end to the war on drugs, and scores of state-law-violating, promise-breaking medical-marijuana raids, the Obama administration did something useful yesterday. In a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco, Attorney General Eric Holder said he would direct the Justice Department to no longer seek mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent, low-level drug offenders. There’s a lot more that needs to happen to address the systemic inequalities perpetuated by the drug war—and a ton of work needs to be done at the state and local levels—but this is a hell of a step in the right direction.

Mandatory minimums are laws that require judges to hand out brutally long sentences to defendants convicted of a variety of crimes. They originated in the 50s as part of aggressive anti-marijuana legislation, and while those laws were repealed in the 70s, the idea of mandatory minimums came back with a hysterical vengeance during the Reagan years. Juries are generally not informed of mandatory minimums when they are deciding court cases, and judges have no way to lessen sentences either; it’s a method of punishment both draconian and robotic. The most bizarre, tragic stories about mandatory minimums feature judges who want to send a drug offender away for some lesser sentence, but are unable to do so.

The rest here.

Sen. Rand Paul’s speech at the historically black college Howard University earlier in the week provoked liberal scorn from some, including the frustrating-cause-he-almost-knows-better MSNBC stable Chris Hayes. The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf wrote a blog post in response to Hayes and company’s easy critique of Paul as the stammering, Southern, pandering white Republican who doesn’t care about the black community and it contains some deliciously damning bits.

To much of the left, Republicans are by default Mitt Romney asking a group of black kids “who let the dogs out?” They’re racist and when they try not be, they’re an out of touch joke, not interested in changing any of society’s racist institutions. This is too-often a fair critique of the right, to be sure. But it also give the left, at least the Democrat left, an absurd amount of completely undeserved credit, and neglects to damn them for their equal sins in this arena.

Friederdorf’s subhed alone — “What’s most racially “cringe-worthy,” Rand Paul’s speech at Howard, Stop and Frisk, or indefinite detention?” — sums it all up brilliantly. Read the whole thing here, but read the takeaway below.

(Friedersdorf is rapidly joining the ranks of journalists that I am mad about not being.)

[Rand] Paul believes minorities are disproportionately affected by failing schools, draconian sentences for non-violent crimes, and drug laws. He believes reforming those policy areas is required for racial progress, and also worth doing because people of all races would benefit. More broadly, he believes that protecting civil liberties is particularly crucial to protecting minority rights. Agree or disagree with his policy stances. But don’t say, as Hayes does, that he believes achieving racial progress is just a matter of having the right conversations.

That is verifiably false.

The irony is that Hayes’ segment and most coverage of race in the establishment media treats conversation about race — it’s earnestness, tone, and sophistication — as a proxy far more important than hard fought policy changes. Awkward moments during a speech at Howard can get you labeled as hilariously backward about race in America in analysis that totally ignores your policy efforts.

Whereas Mayor Bloomberg, who has presided over Stop and Frisk and spying on innocent Muslim Americans, would never be labeled “worse than Braid Paisley on civil rights.” And Barack Obama, who gave a superb speech about race in America, is judged, by virtue of his rhetorical sophistication, to be the epitome of enlightenment on the subject. Hayes is truly a vital voice, in part because (unlike many others on MSNBC) he consistently and admirably criticizes the Obama Administration for its transgressions against civil liberties. Insofar as there’s any chance of stopping indefensible drone strikes or inane drug policies, it’s because of people like Hayes, and I really can’t overstate how much I appreciate that about his work. Yet he would not do a mocking, glib segment that portrayed Obama’s outreach to blacks and Muslims as laughable and “cringe-inducing,” no matter how badly Obama’s policies transgressed against justice. That’s because in America we cringe at awkward moments more than indefinite detention. Paul’s rhetoric on race is thought to be more “unsophisticated” than Stop and Frisk.

Even people who criticize establishment abominations can’t quite bring themselves to mock and ridicule them.

Ridicule is for folks outside the tribe.

The rest of the Paul-mocking media wouldn’t criticize a Bloomberg or Obama on civil rights or racial policy at all, not because Bloomberg and Obama have more enlightened racial policies — they’re presiding over the ugliest of what we’ve got at the local and national levels — but because Bloomberg and Obama know how to talk about race in the way it is done at liberal arts colleges. They’d be far better than Paul at being sensitivity trainers or diversity outreach coordinators.