Yesterday we were greeted with the news that, thanks to the all-encompassing Daddy-Statism this country has fallen for, 1 out of every 100 US adults is in prison. We actually lock up a higher percentage of our population than China, and they’re an authoritarian regime! Us beating them at locking up people is like if Lebron James lost a dunk contest to Will Ferrell.
Despite the obvious implications behind this, what do I get greeted with on the front page of the Washington Post’s website (screen-capture below, click the thumbnail)?
I figured that had to be a sarcastic remark, intentionally provocative so that people click on it. They’ve had writers do that before, gotta admit it works. Sadly…no:
More Americans than ever are in prison. We incarcerate a higher percentage of the population than any other country. It’s too bad we have such a high rate of criminality–but given that we do, I’m glad we have been putting more people behind bars over the last generation.
It isn’t an ideal solution. It may be that we need to find other ways to deal with nonviolent offenders. We should surely address the appalling problem of prison rape. Hiring more police officers and putting them on the street might help, too.
But increased rates of imprisonment have helped to bring about falling rates of crime. Given the alternative of the way we treated crime in the 1960s and 1970s, when I see a headline about a record incarceration rate, I’m glad. Aren’t you? (emphasis mine)
That’s none other than Ramesh Ponnuru, kicking off a thread in WaPos message board section by praising this development. Closest he comes to criticism is faux concern for “criminality” among his fellow Americans, and a toss at prison rape (as if that’s the only problem with this).
Common sense would tell someone that if you make rules that are so contradictory and/or nit-picky of personal habits that directly harm no one that much of the population is a suspect, then the problem is the rules, not the people. Ramesh is wrong on this issue in more ways than one can even count…