From The Washington Post:
Hillary Clinton hopes to undo the mass incarceration system Bill Clinton helped build
By Philip Bump | April 29, 2015
On Wednesday morning, Hillary Clinton appeared at New York’s Columbia University to discuss crime and criminal justice in one of the first speeches of her 2016 campaign. She advocated putting cameras on police officers and changing mandatory minimum sentences. And she put a fine point on the number of people in our prisons. “It’s time to end the era of mass incarceration,” she said. “We need a true national debate about how to reduce our prison population while keeping our communities safe.”
The “era of mass incarceration” didn’t begin the last time the Clintons were in the White House, but the administration of Bill Clinton was integral to its scale.
The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics tracks the country’s prison population over time. Historic data is maintained by the University of Michigan, and it provides a look at the boom in America’s prison population over the last several decades.
Between 1983 and 2011, the number of people in federal and state prisons sentenced to a year or longer grew from 405,000 to over 1.3 million — a jump of 225 percent during a period that the population only grew by about a third.
We’ve marked the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to offer a contrast that we’ll return to below. We have to note, of course, that the rate of violent crime peaked shortly before Clinton took office, and many of those who went to prison during his first few years in office entered the criminal justice system in the previous administration.
There’s a lot more at the link, but the two tables show just how very, very wrong Mrs Clinton is: as incarceration rates increased, violent crime rates decreased. The obvious reason is that more of the violent criminals were stuck in prison, and not out on the streets and able to commit more crimes.
The former Secretary of State was, naturally, pandering to the left following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. The problem is that she, and the rest of the race-pandering left learned exactly the wrong lesson: if Mr Gray had been in jail, as his rap sheet1 shows he should have been, he wouldn’t have been out on the street, wouldn’t have run from the police, wouldn’t have been arrested — again — and wouldn’t have been in that police van when he was injured; it is almost certain that Mr Gray would be alive today if the state’s attorney and the criminal justice system in Baltimore and Maryland had done their jobs and had him in jail.
Gray had a criminal record, mainly on drug charges and minor crimes.3 Gray had been involved in 20 criminal court cases, five of which were still active at the time of his death, and was due in court on a possession charge on April 24.4 In February 2009, he was sentenced to four years in prison for two counts of drug possession with intent to deliver and was paroled in 2011. In 2012, he was arrested for violating parole but was not sent back to prison. In 2013, he returned to prison for a month before being released again.
Mr Gray should have been in prison until 2013, but a oh-so-sympathetic criminal justice system turned him loose. Even after that, he violated his parole, and should have been sent back to prison to complete his sentence; he wound up in jail for just a month. Just this year, a man who was, in the euphemism, “known to the police,” was arrested four times, including for a violent offense (second-degree assault), and when law enforcement had him in their hands, the criminal justice system, run by the same State’s Attorney who filed charges against six police officers involved in Mr Gray’s death, let him go again.5
It ought to be obvious even to a liberal: a criminal who is in jail cannot commit crimes out on the street. Had Mr Gray been locked up for the full duration of his sentences, many of the offenses with which he was subsequently charged would never have occurred. The documented drop in the violent crime rate after imprisonment rates increased indicates that something caused violent crimes to decrease.6
What the former Secretary of State would like to do, should the votes be so foolish as to give her power, is to stop treating criminals like criminals. Her policies, were she in office to put them into effect, would make our cities more dangerous, not safer, would endanger law-abiding people, and turn the inner-city neighborhoods she says that she wants to help into worse places than they are today.
- Freddie Gray’s rap sheet:
- March 20, 2015: Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance
- March 13, 2015: Malicious destruction of property, second-degree assault
- January 20, 2015: Fourth-degree burglary, trespassing
- January 14, 2015: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute
- December 31, 2014: Possession of narcotics with intent to distribute
- December 14, 2014: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance
- August 31, 2014: Illegal gambling, trespassing
- January 25, 2014: Possession of marijuana
- September 28, 2013: Distribution of narcotics, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, second-degree assault, second-degree escape
- April 13, 2012: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, violation of probation
- July 16, 2008: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession with intent to distribute
- March 28, 2008: Unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance
- March 14, 2008: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to manufacture and distribute
- February 11, 2008: Unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance
- August 29, 2007: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, violation of probation
- August 28, 2007: Possession of marijuana
- August 23, 2007: False statement to a peace officer, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance
- July 16, 2007: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance (2 counts)
- Internal Wikipedia footnotes converted into footnotes in this article. ↩
- Muskal, Michael (April 22, 2015). “The death of Freddie Gray: What we know – and don’t know”. Los Angeles Times (in en-US). ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved April 26, 2015. ↩
- “What we know, don’t know about Freddie Gray’s death”. CNN. April 22, 2015. Retrieved April 29, 2015. ↩
- If Mr Gray was out on bail from his arrests in January, his arrests in March, including an arrest for a violent offense, should have seen his bail revoked. ↩
- It is a post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy to state, with absolute certainty, that the effect of having fewer criminals out on the street was directly responsible for the decrease in violent crime, because something else could have been responsible, but anyone with the slightest amount of common sense would conclude that such was almost certainly the main reason the violent crime rate dropped. ↩