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The pipeline to prison


Matt sits down with John Pfaff, professor and author of Locked In, an influential and important 2017 book about mass incarceration in America. The two discuss some common misconceptions about America's prison population, three different meanings of the term "broken windows," and what might be the true cause of the current trending rise in violent crime across the nation.


Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform by John Pfaff (2017; Basic Books)

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Levoy (2015; One World)

"Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach" by Gary S. Becker (Journal of Political Economy v. 76 no. 2, Mar.-Apr. 1968)

Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence by Patrick Sharkey (2019; W.W. Norton)

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs (1961)

"Broken Windows: The police and neighborhood safety" by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson (March 1982; The Atlantic)


John Pfaff (@JohnFPfaff), author; professor, Fordham Law School


Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Slowboring.com


Erikk Geannikis, Editor and Producer

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Support for this. Episode comes from the University of Chicago. Specifically, their capital listened podcast. It's a great offer. People want to dig deeper into how capitalism works and what does it look like when its working? What does it look like when it's definitely not working and what happens when capitalism intersection politics and business? It does not go quietly into the night that is for short, subscribing your favorite podcast app or get information at capital listened dotcom. Support for this episode comes from quick up. If it feels like there aren't enough hours in your work day, it's probably because their art we're losing valuable time to productivity, pitfalls like switching between apps to track down deliverables. Finding do dates in communicating with our teams, get your hours back, and your work on track with quick up quick up is a flexible productivity platform where you can prioritized tasks. Collaborate on docks chap with your team and track goals all in
place. It's completely customizable and it's for you forever, so try click up today. Click up dot com, Slash fox I made yesterday John Bath- is a professor of law. It Fordham Universe, Did he saw the author of a boycott locked in its really one of my favorite books on criminal justice reform, and I think it's really sort of admirable effort too, should make the criminal justice reform Movement in the United States a little bit more. Intellectually honest, I'm a lot of mine, thinking on criminal justice issues was really shaped by this buck. I've been interested to discover over the past couple of years. That John, I think, does not agree with a lot of my takes. A criminal justice is an interesting sort of illustration that you can read a book and come with some very different. Take away from the authors own views on this kind of thing
I believe the conversation. I meant that we had a lot of points of agreement on aspects of mass incarceration. I think continue to maybe agree to disagree about the value of police, staffing and sort of pre emptive patrol as fighting strategy, but you know we got into allotting stopped. He has a lot of important points to make about the progressive prosecutor movement some other things that are in the news, but haven't been covered, all that. Well, I'm! So I think you're gonna, even one alarm signals welcomes another. So debates on the box media Punkahs Network, I met, replaced my guest today, John Faff is Professor LAW Fordham University. He's the author about being passed a buck locked in that came out. a few years ago is actually more recently that I remember it's like a lot is what has happened in the since twenty seven d in, but I get, the main themes of this book are still incredibly relevant. You know things have chain
in the criminal justice situation, where we're going to talk about that, but I think this book is really important. Sort of background contacts to how different people are thinking about the criminal justice questions that that we continue to face today. I'm some really glad to have you aren't, I regret honestly, not haven't done it sooner but thank you thank you for joining us. Thank you so much and looking I'm looking forward to this I'll eat. So you know, I always think it's really good in life to look at. You know how does he was compared to other countries. Ride like what are problems that seem unusually severe here or things are worth were better and obviously I mean I think most people know this, but we have a lot higher share of our population in prison than other wealthy countries, and that continues to be the case, despite some trend towards toward the incarceration
well. Yeah. I mean that does exactly right now that the popular statistic is that now we have about five percent of the world's population and something in the order of twenty to twenty five percent of the world's prisoners on that actually might understate our relative share, because our comparison combines prisons in jail populations in While we only have about three quarters them. People in jail in any given night recyclable, tingling people through our jails. Every year answers is much bigger. over there there are. No countries are close to us Was it come closer like Russia in Kazakhstan places like that? I'm critics to point out that and and North Korea are not to say on the list. I think that's your point, Does this not a weighty argument? Also, you Obviously China's numbers are deflated. They don't count what they're doing inlaid with the wiggers as as partner prison population was. It obviously is again. It is the arguments that you were forth I ran north korean China. That's a pretty bad! Fourth physician recipe,
you're looking at a comparison class of repressive dictatorships. Madam, if you, if you look at I dont know, why are pure countries, Canada, France is, are our combined reads around six or seven hundred four hundred thousand France's around ninety I was an order of magnitude more oppressive and has a presence in France and Germany now that the most incarcerated, what european countries, England, and there it around. hundred verses, our six or seven hundred rights. It is just a whole different category of of of incarceration and shall I need these are facts. I M in the numbers of studying and- and I bet a lot of people- don't know them still to this day, but I do think that in progressive circles This- is something people aware of the freeze. Mass incarceration exists, but a big part of your book is dedicated to arguing against what you call a is a callback that standard view the conventional view I forget
like all the standard story. My book, as are the term I use, which is this idea that has driven by war on drugs and that something serve unique. Lee pernicious about private prisons focus, much more unkind. A sort of legislators as Kai driving this process a yeah I mean there's Egypt, couple different components of it right, but in both cases by the divine drugs thing, if it were true that the reason the United States is such an incredible out wire is that we had like millions of people in jail for smoking pot, you know in their bedroom somewhere. It would be an easy like a really easy fix right, like no. Nobody thinks there should be huge numbers of people locked up for incredibly long, so
says for non violent drug offences like you get, you can just let them out right, and I think that's. Why, and, as I understand exactly why that's kind of where the reform conversation started right, you don't have a guest giant forty year build up in prisons that's unpleasant, they didn't? American history are worldwide and the ways are going back his hey. Let's talk about murder rate, you start by talking about marijuana, any other drugs nets that makes complete sense. The problems we just got, clear. I am not just you stuck there. We got stuck there in a way that makes the bigger issues actually harder to address. So I think you know if you dont know where every knows how many people are imprisoned or they dont really. The only about fourteen percent of them are therefore drug drug cases. Only about one person There are therefore marijuana cases and so it's just not this marijuana story. Yeah Anders I mean I think, there's like this good arguments.
marijuana, legalization separately in the policy conversation and wish. It always makes us if we want to tackle a problem. Like start with the easy part right, you know I like I get it, but it's time you, I think, an important matter. Point trade, when your book is that, if you give, you emphasise easy stuff to the point where people become misinformed, you're, like you're not actually going to make progress on the problem, someone is gonna, pass a bill to relax nonviolent drugs at saying, then you gonna, look back five years, and like nothing will have actually changed, because it's not it's just not that big of a deal is actually even worse than that, because usually the way we reform the drug laws is it as part of a deal right will make these last tough for the non violent offences. Bunny exchange really make these violent crime sanctions even worse and give that over half of all people and prisoner. Therefore, by the crime, rushing scaling
actually punished the smaller per cent. By toughening aware, we punish the bigger percent, so it actually almost be counterpart. given the law as decided, not helpful is actually almost harmful or potentially harmful. I'd go with drugs lies. Wait like give you tell people, ok, like we're, gonna really focus on the violent criminals. It's like fine, but that's already, whose filling the present drain you're talking about an increased incarceration agenda. If that's what you do and any mean it's worth- contextual icing this right, because the the war on drugs gonna go as a construct involves a lot of prosecuting a violent criminal sweaty. You have illegal organisations dedicated to trafficking and selling drugs,
because these are illegal markets. There's violence associated with them so like in some sense swayed. Yet you know, if you hear law enforcement, saying like ok like we're gonna we're gonna go after that after the drugs right like that still means mostly, he arresting people for violent crimes and certainly because the prison sentences are longer right. That's what you get is. Maybe people involved in the drug trade but they're not sort of like feel good kind of stories right and this is where the actual policy post is getting credibly, convoluted young. On one hand, the police will say: look we use drug cases, grafter violence and there is actually turned my truth that and if you look at trends, the data from New York State once noted the trains in people being locked up in New York state prisons for drugs. They have almost no connection in Yorkshire drug laws. There was everything to do with nurse York, city, violence by the people in prison for drug starts, dropping long
for New York. Changes is drug laws and when your does change Drug laws did the client populations, don't change that they maintain their previous trade rounds. For its use is much more that we are using sort drug enforcement as a proxy. I d grafter violence on the flip side, people who Are you will really is the war on drugs? Hey look John you're saying is all these violent crimes with all those violent crimes really are coming from the war on drugs, River Wherefer, prohibition, we wouldn't have these shootings and in that's not This is certainly true, either. No Juliet besides this, but it was a journalist- is a journalist for the early times yet causes great book I'll, get aside shoes embedded a homicide division in the LAPD for for several years, and her argument is the fact that drugs are sufficient cause of violence, but not necessarily know that throughout history, around the world, if you ever the young man with no real upward mobility ready act, as to weapons and the states not doing good job preventing violence which describes allotted for minorities.
His across Amerika. They will turn to violence, and so we take the drug fight added it. Other fights will will take your place. The cause will change. The violence won't change that some as good as the drug WAR did provide. Your drugs is much more symptoms of deeper challenges than than the cause I inside I think at every turn. The worn drugs doesn't really explain why we're here, take it away, and I'm not all that much will change, and I mean I think you know I shall study recently was looking at what what happened when marijuana was legalised. Two people were involved in marijuana trafficking and it wasn't that, like those guys, became legal marijuana, entrepreneurs right instead, like businesspeople, with connections and access to capital and a knowledge of the permitting system like they opened legal marijuana, business and people who been involved in crime were like still faced for barriers they face had whatever willingness to engage in risky behaviour. They had
they saw the went on to other kinds of illegal activity, and I mean that's kind of what what what you're saying right that had psyche that the situation is not like fundamentally changed by tinkering with the drug laws, and if so, how do you know? Police officers have told me that, like didn't like the idea of marijuana legalization, see, basically because they just like enjoy having like pretext all reasons to stop right in their heads. Italy's it's like they know who caught him quote. The criminals are unlike the more stuff, that's illegal like the more they can arrest them, even though it's not like they thought they were going to stamp out marijuana right by keeping it illegal right no, it's do these things are very tight in and out in a weird way. But but your point is that, like the nonviolent drug offender is not the cause of the extreme outlier prison system
China, the United States, exactly an end, is even less of an escalation in the data suggests. Right now. The data suggest about fourteen percent of people, prison Ezra classified as your nonviolent drug offenders for offences in prison, but some fraction, because we have no idea it is because our data so terrible, but there are lots of people who get arrest. forsayd domestic violence and during the arrest they have heroin on them and then to them While the assault charge falls apart, the partner moat testify. They don't want the charge to go forward into the prison. they hammer out? Is you plead guilty to the heroin, but where, the man prison time because of the violence, but you're here, when our data as a non violent, jug offender, which no actually might be, and in some ways the others are we're challenge about. Ending the war on drugs. Is it can certain sanctions. Worse they great. Now you got you salt charge, we don't want all the content, This is of a violent crime, conviction which carries also the actual life long
impediments that a non violent conviction doesn't idea can say: ok, fine I'll job, the violence of charge you for the drugs of jobs under crime. All they have is the violence I am, and perhaps you should change others back in life restrictions on and we should, right, but as long as those are in place like the dynamics, YO, R, r, r, calmly and an tricky and desolate. A rumour unintended consequences too to appear. You also talked about Ivan prisons, which I feel like. I think eventually had a good amount of success in getting people to be less absurd, but this, but only years ago. This would be the thing right there. Like Democrats in particular, while Democrats are more attentive to what criminal justice reformers you know, want to talk about. They also just like generally like to talk about how privatizing things is, is bad, like public sector unions, so people stand up as they are. We can have these like for profit prisons that are that are lacking people up. This is just not like a major factor in it,
right again, as well as things were, not just that it's not a major factor, but actually by focusing on five, is actually causes harm. Because it distracts s important ways from from the public. I know so the numbers that about eight percent of all prisoners in the United States are held in private prisons about ninety two percent are held in the public's. No evidence that private prisons are are any better or worse than public presence? There is some data from the feds should have said. Privates are worse, but the FED with our unique in that there are almost entirely designed to hold foreigners facing deportation posts so the incentive for no reentry zero francs does not perhaps surprising there. So terribly run, but my real concern the private isn't so much that there so minor, but is that the exact same profit incentive? just in the public's end. We miss it right. You know we spend a billion dollars a year on public prisons and something about you,
thirty or more, that is wages and benefits to the professionals that that's a hue financial incentive. I ate an every defect. You points in the private existing public, so people say fine, private said these special contracts to save the beds aren't occupy. You have to pay for the bed anyway, that's an incentive to keep money flowing or New York State has one the largest disdain de cars relations in the country, yet worth littered with Ike MP prisons. up and running right, we're still paying the guard pressure officers, all their salaries to sit in prisons have no one in them that identical to the private prison that contract, but at massively bigger scale weighing in, and you know when and the lobbying dynamic swam in those corrections officers they have their interest groups, they want to be employed, they want their benefits and you have I'm gonna communities in which its a significant enough source of jobs and things that you get him not just the people
rapidly employed in the prison. They wanted its value ball and the sort of ownership status of the facility. You know it's just like not going to be a significant sort of change there ready to eat something. That's it's convenient for democratic party politicians, because they can then say there being you d incarceration, without taking on, like unions that are affiliated with ask me and other groups that they like. Radically. The long forcing unions are democrats- right, I mean, went when Scott Walker gutted public sector unions in Wisconsin. He carved out three crucial up. There's cops environment because those they going Republicans right I once gave a talk at a conference sponsored by the F Elsie I owed. I signal you. I've never had a room. Turning gets me faster than I said you The only way we solve this is go after the public, practical officer, unions and there, like we stay
shoulder to shoulder our union brothers but they're, not your brother's right. There, everything you're pushing for in DC, they pushed against itself. Finally unionization, and so it is an interesting thing where, where no liberals don't want to go after public sector unions- and I get the general instincts right teacher is an attack. Other user darlin attack, but law enforcement unions aren't their friends right there very much committed every other policy in an opposition due to what liberals and Democrats want why envied, but you know- and I do think that there has been some some changes mean once Walker Discovered- that you can just be told
unprincipled. In your legislating around this, if you want that that has made many think a lot of these. Those members were more politically conservative, but perhaps cross pressure right. If republicans we're gonna be super ideological about it and take collective bargaining ran away from every body. Thou be one thing, but there's this kind of new new alignment happening obviously, deadline for Jeez, love trump and vice versa, but this now makes it may be easier, for liberals partitions to see the situation as it exists. Yes, so the obvious problem here is that people- people don't really want to help violent, no sweat. it. It sounds horrifying. It's like we're, comparing our prison stats and you gonna, look like maybe I ran or North Korea is like. Oh, my God, John like we gotta do something, but then it's like ok, but you're. Actually talking about murder at that's just seems like a hearts.
Yeah, but is it it isn't right I mean we have about not in twenty twenty Look at twenty eighteen point, eighteen where we had about, as many murders per year, as we had in the nineteen. Seventy total, not per capita, is total murders. Two hundred billion heard people say number murders but we had as many people in prison. Just homicide in TWAIN genes, as the entire. U S prison population in the nineteen seventies right answer, are our view on. Homicide has changed re, which means it's not something immutable right. We have gone we have viewed homicide as as a less throw away the key. His colleague offence and we remain you know in outlier worldwide and that in that respect, any fly in the face of all the data We know that as a general matter, people aged into and each out of violence, it is actually one reason I resisted usage from violent offender. I because it sir
makes us you make. This is who that person is. This is a violent person. But no I'm less violent. Now than I was when I was twenty. I know my head Levels have shifted, I'm my brain has matured, I'm just older and slower right, our faster. I would have lost that fight. When has twenty at forty five, I'm getting beaten down immediately right. Everything just aches in is another. Kids. They retired I'm just tired, and we know that you know deserve a consistent pattern, actually was pulled draft from boss in the fifties Chicago in the eighties, Canada, in HOLLAND Resources, this age profile, people's engagement of violence, and you can't distinguish witchcraft comes from which place right is it some acumen cons and so what we ve engaged in this is it this incredibly punitive project that doesn't have internal support behind it and was how we ve always treated violence anyway, I am
The way things are bad right now it's. I have some hope that this is a topic were used to shift in if slowly and in painfully only there's a good place to urge it. Take a quick break and then come back and talk about this. This was very long sentences. Do we just sponsored by better help online therapy as we move to the finish line of defence let's not forget, to give ourselves space to process everything that's gone down. Many of us are still feeling off culture and emotionally out of sorts, so we might notice changes in our relationships. This sounds like you, maybe time to talk to somebody. An online therapy can help, but how. is not a crisis line. You know it's not sell. Power is professional therapy done securely and online. All you need to do is got a questionnaire so that better help can assess your needs and match you with your professional licence. There must, then you can start communicating with these Airbus in forty eight hours. Works for you over the phone live chat, or if you can stomach one more video calling you day, that's an option to easily accessible already help there for you, when you needed better help us
We need to make sure you get the care of its right for you. So changing cannabis is easy and free. Give yourself what you mean and get better help today, get ten percent off your first month and better help dot com, slash weeds, it's better hd, LP, dotcom, slash, weeds. Support for this episode comes from quick up if it feels like there aren't enough hours in your work day, it's probably because their art we're losing valuable time to productivity, pitfalls like switching between apps to track down deliverables. Finding do dates in communicating with our teams, get your hours back, and your work on track with quick up click up is a flexible productivity platform where you can prioritized tasks, collaborate on docks chap with your team and track goals, all in place it's completely customizable and it's for you forever. So try click up today at click up dot, com, Flash Fox you don't
when one touchstone for for me and this you're talking about that, the shift that that happened did american law enforcement. Is Gary Becker you know what kind of MR sort of free market guy and he does a few papers. I think I'm gonna economic and- masses of crime, and he services, like you, know it. Some it's really hard to like solve crimes. It takes a lot of person hours to go out there. You may not catch the guy anyway that if you do catch him, you have to prosecute him. That's a whole big pain in the bud. I'm so much simpler way to increase the deterrent impact of the criminal justice system is to just like double or the sentences rather than
to catch a larger share of the offenders? I dont know to what extent people were explicitly following that logic as they they ramp did up, but its. It certainly like one way of thinking about the the system and then I think the other way of thinking you know what we are saying is that prison. Has this incapacitated affect fried somebody's in prison, do not on the streets, they may be committing crimes, but if they are it's that the victims or other prisoners- and maybe citizens don't care about that, but that when you have people coming like twenty or sentences are more you wind up getting its lot of middle aged people and an older people- and you know it's like. I just turned forty and we just like we are. We all get soft
right, like yours, very low chance that people into middle age are going to be committing serious violent crimes and the risks of having them out on the streets are just objectively pretty low and it, but the cost of imprisoning them remain. Very. I mean it their financially high its high its high in humanitarian terms right so that, like skills perfectly ten years versus twenty years, but the whatever crime fighting effect, you think you're gonna have sort of yeah, I mean so Gary Becker is actually the eye the chair, my dissertation committee, and I agree with what the problem of five or six grey. Economists ever and I view that paper on prisons as something that will come to view, as probably one of the worst things he ever wrote, Anchises impact, even though it is cited. Nobel Prize no citation, I mean his argued. Basically, that, like you said, a trade off that from deters give you a hundred
and chairs of one year. Prison is same as a fifty percent chance of two years, are twenty five percent chance of four years right. Did the expected punish me on cases one year and that will deter equally and we now know psychologically speaking that that's just wrong. I it's completely wrong. He made you you have kids, I do yeah, I mean I've got one to a it's like. This is like the total opposite of flight pound. You I'm not to compare my sexual Do us a murderer? Necessarily, you know it's your kids misbehave all the time and they give you advice on how to deal with it and like what they tell you. Is that, like you have to be like? No, don't do that, take the toy away right away, but, like be super harsh. Don't freak out at this, which wafers for a week It has no more of an impact. They now then taken hostage away for tonight. I did there now. at the moment, are having at that that tangible, not able to think like well. If I keep glamour loses
days or four days or seven days by those extra days do nothing. It is what happens in the end. That moment in right now, from a general human constant right, that is, that the threat of being caught matters, a lot more than that it out that further risk I mean crying tends to be committed by young people. Right eighteen early twenties right, Kinshasa, he's got this, for whom car insurance the most pricey sixteen seventeen eighteen year old man right boys right there that insurers the roof because they are impetuous and impulsive and they live in the moment right thinking, cabin down the line. Much less. Fifteen based on the light I, and so it is good that no, we as a general matter, had to focus, it's more on wrapping up severity and we don't essays not one that certainty and that gets things, come fleetly backwards, and yet the weight responds arising. Homicide is not the lock. People up longer doesn't give you two turns and the key people imprisoned long past when they pose.
arrest, spokesman up front things. I can ask you, stop it read than in their in in the moment we know in TWAIN extinguish guy when a budget crisis they cut the street level stuff and jacked up the punishment of the state level. You talk about the incentives facing prosecutor in in your book in, and I think this is driven a fair amount of the sort of political moves to reform here, but you know I thought this is great point of yours which, as you know, I can look at statistics and say: ok, the odds you know that this given person will re offend, are quite low boy, you're talking about a country of millions of people.
Like somebody out of that pool is going to re offend, and then you get the news story right, it's like so, and so let such as such at a jail. And then, two weeks later, you know he does this horrible thing and nobody's gonna write up a new story about like the five hundred other cases, radicals who got out of prison- and I mean some other. Maybe their life turned our great some of them. I don't know they haven't a hard time, but like they're, not killing anybody there ass an I knew in prison but like, but but that's not that's, not new sprayed so that the people attacks are tough. You know, because you knew face this incentive to like avoid the bad story of he let the bad guy out of jail, and then he did something bad right with swords. now that the term used or the crime role is called a bully, Horton effects. So after this Tories add from there HE d presidential campaign. Where this kind of thing happen. No
Massachusetts. Had his furlough program that lead people out of prison to stay connected to the community's, come back you at after the war. And are weak way and at the time of the media campaign, We knew that about ninety nine percent of all people released in Massachusetts returned about incidents because the iron argon, Since I martyr published an entity hate saying it's about overnight, Iverson Success rate bono person, runs off. Willie Horton, he of he runs off to Maryland. He was a brutal commendation. He beats the man, the house he reached the woman he's our serving. Without for all in Maryland and became so The tories leave racist, He be add, lost against Dukakis me running as Bush proposed it as a side note you can walk. the horse, add on Youtube and compared to the running in twenty twenty twenty two and twenty sixteen. You can barely detectors This is actually would not make the top ten racist adds the past five or six years, which is a completely different, far more depressing issued to think about, but the idea that, because this
ads are no making Horton out to be this terrifying, no scary, black man's are threatening voters a cost to caucus election really interesting things unpacked about that. First political side. They had almost no impact on the election whatsoever. Right that you call is actually outperformed what he should have done, given all the other sort of more fundamentals of of eighty eight range. We talk with his heart, in effect, when the case itself that we talk about There's no evidence that it actually matter, since I think they're serve to Horton effects, but one is that our politicians afraid that they make that one mistake in a hot them. Thirdly, I am we're the only country in the world that Alexis prosecutors were the only country in the world that Alexis judges are criminal, legal, Actors are uniquely scared of this. That part is unambiguously true is much less clear that what they are afraid of his action. something to be afraid of right to actual
another example of the woolly Horton effect a years before I, the state release to people on forelock. Has most states have further programmes until the hoard NAD both made murders on four allow, one of them till the police officer, YO the dead unions demanded and a further programmes, prison officials- over the governor said no, they geese furlough programmes these protein. are essential for re entry for rehabilitation, I'm gonna stay and by my furlough programme, and that governor was noted. as your Ronald Reagan, who is clear, destroyed me became you know, President Wahid or your bike Huckabee when he was governor. He we did over. A thousand sentences is one the most extensive commutation of any governor in modern times. Wonderful went up to. To organ and murdered for police officers in coffee shop? Ale Huckabee has not become president, they Reagan did, but I dont think that is what his anger honeybees ambitions right, there's other things have gone Huckabee way more setting.
How could be, but you know we had the sense that if you screw up, I'm gonna pay for that during the debates about Brooklands Gale, She's a couple years ago, Deb Acting J, whose now our occur Jane Eyre Gonzalez got up any debate instead is openly here. I will embrace Beller form, but I need you to Prague. Me that without one guy does one thing wrong. I you won't vote me out the next time. You need us Finally, when these mistakes inevitably happen, they believe this. I just don't know if it's true right this weird thing where we talk and I myself am guilty as we talk about this Willie Horton Effects, without really acknowledging that it might be actually empirically unfounded. Politicians might have a lot more it risks- and I think the best example that actually is- is craswellers relax welcome. You start reelected gap, I think pretty good shot. We not any has his renomination rise. If you look at where he won, he did best, the shootings, where the highest rate of there's anything that should have been organised,
where the places they had a most violence under prisoners term were the place that turned out the most to vote for him. We should that sternly local politicians have a lot of room to take risks. They might not think they can take right now, Only I mean when you, when you're book came out riding in twenty seven tea in the overall level of violence in the United States had fallen a lot in the in the twenty years. Prior to that, and I think that he created an environment in which a lot of people were interested in rethinking of some of the costs some of the criminal justice system and we had a conservative politicians. You know in some cases embracing some of these ideas, Governor Huckabee, definitely and an example of that and you know people willing to say you know. I'm gonna. I've been assured a bet on the mass. He right that in a week- and we can do something- help fall to a very large number of people. We can save a lot of
any there's some risk on the downside, but I do think that part of that was that the overall levels of violence were were decline right and created a sort of an easy. One was an easy. I you know I shouldn't I didn't like him in it. It takes, I think, meaningful political courage to do something different, no matter what the situation is but but crazier who was does returning in Philadelphia he was running in in a different context, right, which is that there has been a very large increase in the number of people being shot over the past year. That comes with people being much more concerned about violence and crime and what dying in their community and you see at least are much less potential for some kind of a backlash against that. I just didn't happen in in Philadelphia, given I think you ve made the point fairly.
Suavely that it's not like these reform DA's suddenly took over every city in America right right that the trend in the violence seems pretty consistent cross Americans. It is right Think that's true and I think the first thing the supporting their about their form. The aid is: not only are they not everywhere? This does the server. System pattern. I seen the city's doubt elect them, which is that their cities don't have so prosecutors are elected by counties not by cities, but the programme the prosecutors, tend to be in cities where the sitting, You are the same thing right, so Philadelphia is both the city and the county. San Francisco City in County Baltimore, Saint Louis, Brooklyn is even smaller right in the places have bigger count. The city is an outsider part of that county, so Chicago burst in Poland, These are places where the city is a huge chunk of the county. I think, are important.
Because what it means is that the people who are experiencing both the crime and the problems of enforcement together had the loudest voice. Where you your cutting out, though the white, suburban knights, who see crimes problems be punished, but dont have the view of the costs of a bad policy. I insisted setting it for the import of Caesar that they need Random nature of where these progressive vs had been elected tells a lot about serve. How the politics of punishment work right. That too often our politics had been driven by the people who, ere the least amount of the cost of mistakes. But yes, it bowing to twenty twenty you see that homicide rose everywhere, re, whether he had ever yea or non progressive yea. It didn't releasing the matter. Your homicide rate went up and went up fairly, much proportionate with
other city in the country where it is this point? Your regret that the county boundaries and suffers is important. Just in case we will miss it right. So in America we have like this three to your government. We have states, we have counties we have city is, then we have a couple exception. So, like New York City encompasses five counties and then a few cities are coextensive. What they did. The city is account rights of Baltimore, Philadelphia. Seven Cisco, I think, are the big examples of that Saint Louis, to say Louis. Ok, then you have the other thing, which is sometimes the city in the county merge. So that's like Jacksonville and Indianapolis, but that's more like you dissolve the city. River thing is the county right, which is to say that a lot of important parts of suburban areas are kind of in there, and then you have the sort of more normal thing which is
the city of Miami, and then my immediate county and the cities and important part, but not the whole thing. Any consorted vary from place to place in terms of like Chicago is the majority of Cook County Buckley When does like a smaller share of clear, how can county So you can have a very african american city. Very I've been working electorate the people there are experiencing the problems of crime, the problems of law enforcement, but they don't have the political voice. Over. Who is the prosecutor, which a lot of those votes are some suburban aids or more insulated front from all these issues? Seek it this sum variation, but it's not it's. I'm really random. In terms of you know who wins said and what happens, but guess a week we ve seen crime shootings really at an end and interpersonal violence rise in in almost every city.
This, like a handful of exceptions, right, I think Baltimore and a couple other, that's a white. What makes like a reform prosecutor in, in your view, If you, if you do that analysis, because it's obviously not a not like us, does not like an official pen that you got no, no, In fact, when I would I posted like my might. My graph of this murderous verses. Progressive autism on on on Twitter was dwelt, pleasant, publishes afar. I do it two different ways with two different definitions, and I give my list they bit. My list is kind of my instinct plus talking other people plus media coverage. Rather, you dont have a clear definite. in some ways, the term is almost coming impossible to use anyone call themselves. A progressive prosecutor, know everyone running in New York, city right now, and men at me now has described himself has been progressive, but there use are radically different right. I mean The bare minimum is the idea that we really shouldn't prosecute low level non violent crimes, outshine
things. Are they Miss Milner CORD, divert more things? striving much smarter and less aggressive on bail, ya, think moving to the more serious categories, the progressive ism you getting things I decriminalizing sex work rightly refused. prosecute cases against. Yes, we want user prostitution and other kinds of sex work. Offences like that, perhaps even changing You punish serious violent snowed to his credit. Crazier is one of the few in in Philadelphia where you started charging homicide case. That would have been first degree murder under his predecessor. There are thirty murder under him right which music life without for all, she was standard minimum with ten years I wish, which doesn't change much policy wise by a wills didn't we change prison populations, no incantatory yours when people are start being released to otherwise otherwise wind I'm. So is it fairly continue, and I think the bare minimum is kind of less aggressive towards drugs while the more diversion and being better but bail? And then you start moving deserve sex work again
and and serious violence, as you saw them more progressive kind of end of things. I managed to get taken other breakin and ask more questions matter. Support for this podcast comes from Verizon business, for business, unlimited plants, unlimited data, no overages and more built right for business. With this Verizon five g give rise. In business. Unlimited plans from his lows: thirty dollars per line, visit, Verizon calm, slash business, slash plants per month with five on business. Unlimited start includes paper free billing without open, select, smartphone agreement, discounts, taxes fees in terms apply five g nationwide available in twenty seven hundred plus cities on most Verizon, five g devices find shelter white band available only in parts of select cities high. I remember you I'm a programme manager, Google right now Lots of people are looking for ways to learn new job skills. That's why we created Google career certificates online training programme for fast growing fields like I t, support project management
Data, analytics user experience, design and more you don't need any power experience in can be Jobbery in about six months. So put you skills to work go to grow don't go faster tickets. So here's what sort of interesting to me about this, because I can see from your your twitter presents. I think you you know align yourself with with these progressive prosecutors, you want to add, defend them against their clinics, etc. But from what I can see, I mean the moves that they are making in practice.
are not exactly locked in doctrine right that did a lot of it. A lot of the progressive prosecutor moves seem to me to deal with the lowest level offences where's. My read your book was look. What we really ought to do is look at the longest prison sentences and, like the tail end years, the longest sentences are almost all pure waste and cruelty, like no matter how agreed just the crime that the guys doing thirty years for cutting that down to twenty five is like just a win right, and it's like it sounds
Crazy, don't like what you have to do is find like the most heinous offenders in the system and go easier on them, but that this is actually like really powerful logic to the that, like the longest sentences are the most wasteful, they do tend to go to people who have been convicted of serious offences, but like none, the less like that is really where the senseless punishment is coming from. but like that's, that's not what professor prosecutors are doing exactly yeah me, I mean and three clear in under no people tend to think of all these people serving incredibly long senses right, even if our maybe for drugs, they think even jug peoples are really long sends his input in the federal system. They do say, federalism is uniquely broken. but the media in time to release for a non violent crime. Jogger property is one year so by
Half of all people and state prisoner I within a year, are in there for non violent crime even for a violent crime the median times release is about four years I law than non violent, but not massive. Massive sentences are almost all murder. I so in view of you, Every ten or more years being I look at health. a while ago, an end date for the weirdest their laws day. She had the fewest number in for murder. Long sentences are converted most dates and for them about if they take moreover, Halford just murder and almost always serious violence they take? Fifty? Twenty years ago. Seventy five eighty percent are in just four homicide. The rest are did murder, armed robbery, rape and so yeah, one you're right, progressive us Here's art and cross was doing some ways willing life it up for all the ten years that real passion ten years most are doing much but they're doing less harm than the initial approaches art are doing, and I think it is bizarre also changing what the political role is right there they are advocating for other approaches right there,
there must be willing to embrace things that can also reduce violence by the has been very much up no change in funny things I safe injection sizing things that make serve no drug use. In an insult abuse disorders easier to manage. That kind of progressive approach to other after, policy will lead to fewer serious violence ran, and so it is not part of their job, isn't just focusing on I'm hobby punished the serious, violent crimes, but also being advocates for that policy. is that serve create a better situation to reduce violence directly. I mean, and I do think that that's that's important, because I mean you can try to read that election you know different ways. Writing in me. What does he want red heat? You? One against a serious challenge there was a lot of money in that raised. There was a lot of attention paid. You know he was It's not really all end, and he he when he wanted
The other is you know, Pennsylvania is, is a swing state right still Del fear is like the most liberal part of that all right. Eight. If you want to continue to have like on some level right like you, you, you want state level policy to move in a in a kind of helpful direction. Our you can, at least and in places where, where its viable, and if you winning tough, raises at Philadelphia like that means, that means you might, you might lose them stay wide and it a minimum like you would be desirable to show that you have like other approaches that that work right, that you know I'm gonna, I'm gonna do acts in and it's gonna, it's gonna help people I had spoken about a year ago, Jennifer Dolly I was on here talking about summer job programmes.
You know it's like the the demographic for doing crimes. You can give those people other things to do right like an opportunity to get jobs and they are just less likely to commit offences. Should they think when I say that, like I think, progress is needed, take the crime, the rise in violence seriously. You know what I mean is not like completely turn back the clock and reforms that we think are good, but actually make sure that we are doing some of the things that are like. Ok, we have other ways to it. Since my spirits like, I think it important to present at a time when the level of violence is rising. I think it's important to make sure like you are actually doing them? you're doing ones that have reasonable prospects of success ray. I think I think those things happen. I may I think, no patent
Turkey, whose now it at present has his book called an uneasy piece about certain crime decline. What caused it his there's a really was rowed the development. These a grass level community groups acquire help rebuild, stabilizing neighborhoods? Are there wasn't flooding the no funny these a pleasing losing the prison that works in a very brute force, unsustainable kind away, was our commitments we did a lot of really hard work said to rebuild their treaties and we just don't give it any attention. arriving, allow the work is there we do it every article I read the rise in homicides date, they say homicides. They did mention the protest, they don't talk back home and then they merely asked the police are. What you think is cause is how should we fix this? Please immediately say well more of us in that we need and dark ahead of ends, and so think, as a tremendous amount of work, actually being done, it's just that he needs It deserves, and I think it no means
It seems, I guess, there's no alternative, thereby for policing. That's because you can give the police had priority access. Fervor bloody fringes. Discussion was we shouldn't. Do I think so I mean I mean what one of the points that you make about it. why is it there's a certain media? Would you call exactly european ugly? It's like well there's an interesting story about progressive prosecutor. Elected San Francisco, Oh- and this also allow more shootings is ever cisco- so let's asked questions about why that is. Whereas I don't know what to you appoint you like vitaliano, I'm gonna be Jacksonville rights, actually huge spoken homicide in no one talks about that. So so nothing interesting happened politically Jacksonville Day of Republican. Ere, I have no idea with prosecutor. Is spanish. Is this the same stuff then relies, and they also have a big, increasing shootings, and I have not seen a national newspaper parachute somebody into Jacksonville too, like ours,
hey, what's up here right, exactly right and an insult concerned becomes a that that framing we address this diesel instinct No reforms have to defend themselves and the awaited the status quo doesn't right that you know you adopt your formulas? You can show that it works when no one says, while they keep funding the police, why don't they show us that there are working in a cost, benefit justifiable? Hideaway right there's a very systematic miss framing that that that takes place here is how it looks again. I'm looking up to twenty two percent increase in in homicides in injectable witches just what I think is actually like historic highs rather gathering is whether highest homicide, raids ever right, yeah and while San Francisco remains at near historic lows rate. To this hand, wringing over San Francisco the had a decent has increased by twenty nine tea was its lowest homicide rate in a recorded, modern times
That is all this annex Jacksonville hits historic highs and we don't talk about them at all, but you wouldn't anyone question about this. Is the relationship to the pandemic right I mean I could tell a story you sort of following Shockey following all Dodge Jake this kind of ideas on Paul Grogan, I learn some others from went when I was in college, but it's like when people words, sort at home in their telling you like, Dunk, aloud and all kinds of places, a business clothes was nothing to do with you, so dont have like normal people like out and about being.
President, and you have this decline in sort of like non police, informal surveillance, right of neighbourhoods, and then you have people who are so selected non rule followers outside doing stuff, getting him fights starting shed getting into cycles of violence, and it makes sense, but in the question is, is like what do we expect to proceed as things normalize, because if we do, then it's like ok, like a lot of weird stuff, have twenty two ready wit weaken right it off, but I'm mostly here from people that thing don't expect to like automatically received with the waning the pandemic and so I wonder what your view that yeah, that I think the challenge we face mean nothing is set in stone, but but but violence and lethal violence in particular. Can I be Self, sustaining rather there is.
In Chicago looking as our social networks and shootings other found that, on average each shooting produced These two to three subjects shootings over the next few years, palliations encounter revelations. Sometimes you can link fifty shootings back to one initial shot, you won T say, something like three hundred subsequent shooting. all kinds spire from one initial bullet. As someone shot someone else in retaliation, just spread and news three hundred, so and people were shot at her shot or next, three or four years, that's right, and so there is is concerned, You can see violence in twenty twenty one and twenty twenty two debts, is in many ways, perhaps pandemic violence right that it is, those in initial spike kind of so working. Way through no very dense, very disrupted social networks and obviously you can prevent that are better and worse ways to intervene by I'd I think that your window, that homicide in violence is another,
nothing thing right when the pandemic goes away. Everything goes back to normal and all that pass violence. Just stops. The cash machine years it is. There is a causal link over time between shootings last year, an inch things this year, because you you, you have the people who survived shootings, you have their friends, you have there, there are still out there and these latter cycles continuing and sustain themselves way. So I mean that's. I think you don't just a big point that I want people to Canada. Take away from that like we can. We get. Our argue about past causes all want, but we probably have to do something to step in and break this, and if we don't want that to be endlessly longer sentences you, you have to sort of come to the table with some kind of ideas. Frayed. There seems to be some hope for these. I'm gonna, like violence,
raptors nicer, like civilian gang intervention, kind of people. I don't, I feel like the evidence, and that is not like super high quality, but is an idea that they could do something getting people. Jobs is probably probably got even if it doesn't impact violent crime. You know people people should have grabbed up, but I I wonder about this tactic of short of using up on enforcement against low level crimes, because that each is, it doesn't seem to me as well, supported by the Evelyn, as some other things, and I can imagine cleaning critic like a very disorderly situation in which people are short of robbing cars for fun, like
It creates a dangerous Saddam survive out in cities, and I feel like it's something I feel like. The idea that we need not prosecute property crimes is an idea that, like is in the neighbourhood of John fast, but like is now Really what your book says. Yeah I mean I don't come now about one where the other unstrap, how she held out starting low level enforcement and end with subsequent. No sir crimes and other there was it. recently looking data from Boston, Pre, pre, reform, Boston visas, are random. Assignment to the days can across your case, for low over cases. I see no, people can get signs energy. Did the prosecutor randomly Casey assigned randomly some DA's took me your car really seriously? Some eighty eight did not take it very seriously, and so yours, your punishment for Misdemeanor cases was around we determined by. Will you just got assigned you and they founded being assigned to the less aggressive jays, had no impact on
your offending, but did reduced. No, you risk a storm other likely billing information. right, suggesting that a lot misdemeanor forest, providing no safety, I would disrupt lives very seriously. I also saw paper at the other day showing that serve random. Please stopping of little beforehand Kimberly didn't need any subsequent increase in crime. There are a fair number paper showing the star that this so called Ferguson effect. I die if you insult the police too much they pull back and they don't do their job now leads to crime. That no there's no cash machine that homicide, there's other stationers darling. No real change in crime and the police are full backing random kind of ways, and I think that day increasingly shows that this kind of low level staff that deserve animated, broken windows, idea. Sort of doesnt really have alive benefit It is also important to realise that broken windows is a term that use me two completely different things I says: broken windows he was described in the initial article, which is not actually how they might be, did it, which is actually is like no covered the graffiti
replacing windows you're, putting brighter lights in that does work right, gaps are making neighbours physically more people. in brighter and safer works broken, those issues are harassing every young person, Mesopotamian blackened incomes past you that the data certainly shows has a best, no effect, and at worst he is mildly, harmful. Jimmy I thought, is almost three different thing so when under the name broken windows were like wine is about the sort of physical appearance of the of the built environment, the site, It was, I think the MIT had an idea for a y, all that, if you did a lot of arrests for trivial offences, that you could capture alot of illegal firearms right the damage that was attacked, because that the nature of
concealed gun is that you can't see it. But if you just like a rest, everybody, then you can search them, and then you find the illegal guns, and then at least the claim is that removing illegal guns from ST is is reduced. Murder is actually that, like arresting me before, jumping the turnstile right reduces martyr, but it's that sort of giving the police x ray that was like the basic come up Wes and then the other is the idea that low level of rests per se have a kind of benefit, and that was what that study of the Sub County prosecutor's office circuits again strike was saying that buckets. It can get really bad for your life to go to prison for even a short space of time. So we should maybe have a higher bar.
for when we can't do that to people. At the same time, I mean it seems a little unsatisfied to say why are you know we have like thousands of extra people being being murdered over the past year and we are really no. We don't really know what to do about it, I don't think it is that we don't know what to do about anyway. So we understand that things like providing them with things to do is get him the streets of their dirt. Engage employment longer school after school activities are things that provide some. sure we know these things can reduce violence by they. Don't do it in this. Ass fine way that putting so when the handcuffs and saying we responded to this does right there, not reactive there, more proactive and again, the pilot proactive is that you still face. Did the ambiguous politics of this sort, in fact right? But we know that Drug treatment plays a big role to state that adopted. Medicate expansion saw huge drops in crime the first year of medicate expansion. I'd because of acts
said to Non Drug court drug treatment? I think our losses are part let there be no provides more stable homes might know, might reduce. I was in relation to a fair but also removes targets from the street right, I the homeless person. Now as they were housing there are not there to be victimized in in the first place. I dare not out there at night whether vulnerable that. I think we know that there are. There are lots of things to do. It is just that We have to encourage people to embrace doing it that way, rather than the conventional approach. and I think you ve seen a shift in the direction you are seeing places more willing to adopt non. Please responses that things are homeless. and mental health by but doing in there The text of sort of a fine reduction perspective, as suggested, are being to appreciate that you know
the lines we dropping come on the one side and social sectors and other our kind of not exactly the right line too. To draw. This is all overlap way, and you know I mean it well. I hope I hope we can. We can come up with things that their work, I mean I'm I'm Schubert interested enormousness eyes as as an issue which you know I mean has a social service component, you know has often become a law enforcement topic, but is not well old there, but which really does just you know it comes back to housing policy right and right. You know making sure we have a system in which at least you know, most people are able to afford a place to live rather than you know. How do we police those who don't read? How do we make shortly Not in that situation in in the first place they actually there maybe go get some another release from examples are how we can think about these things, but don't write, no there's not
that much evidence is very good, big evidence showing that bad economic conditions in general lead to more violent, offending. some imprisoned by rohypnol. I've increasing violence, but there is evidence that you arrive economic uncertainty, can lead to violence right. Desert, enow stairs are durable poverty right. The impact on violence is not so all the level to be higher, but they did. This document change much, but we use only faced unexpected economic uncertainty that created treasure, stress and strain, and naturally the violence especially say domestic violence right. So we could have responded. covered in a much different way right. We were profoundly stingy compared to the some countries around the world and at least no wealthy countries, and that meant that we created environment that was going to breed violence right. We view this as an economic silver. Here over there by
citizens and not right checks in not right checks and not re checks and just make people suffer through unemployment numbers that we'd never seen before. Right. That has a crime causing impact, and we know that has a crime causing impact and there We know this is established. We saw chose to ignore it hasn't then the national politics have it right, but some of the crime followed that we will be with four years from now comes from our inability to take advantage of what we know about economic, uncertain the instability and crimes and pretend wasn't true. As the pandemic sum up ended, nor the entire sort of economic system for millions of people, but I mean I do think right I mean it would be. It would be nice if, if you know those kind of material factors, you know we're like an overwhelming lever. Island said and crime, but I mean we really did see violent crime rates continuing to draw up through the sort of smaller stood as one recession.
the very severe to designate I mean I. I have a lot of concern at that time. That was really bad economic situation at last it for a long time, but fortunately I mean, for whatever reason we sort of had mostly mostly good news in terms of a violence then, and that really actually set the stage for a lot of reform right in a slightly perverse way. Like states were feeling a lot of budgetary pressure, but like violent crime, continue to decline, so I think it became much more sort of except a ball in mainstream political circles to say you know we gotta look at what we can, but we compare back here see what I think is like so important about your book is TAT
to caution people off a certain level of like wishful thinking about this whole problem that, like just like, harmless part smokers and like really sympathetic, defendants are gonna, get the work done of sort of being more humane and I d want people to fall into it different, but I think similar kind of trap of being like well, the economies in get better at the pandemics gonna go away. These these problems are gonna debate, because you know it if we want to have interpersonal safety want to have an environment in which people can take more humanely about what we're doing. We still do have a kind of a big issue on her head. yeah? I think your final play. I think is important was realised that note there isn't, easy solution to this. There is pressure on the political side, but
things also. I think it's really important to appreciate how little since we have about how well policing imprisons actually reduce crime. I doubt that they certainly org may. The appraisal more cheerfully ray, I do think, does is poor magic. Framing some people on the left sometimes use a saying: will please don't reduce crime period right? That's clearly natural rights policing does reduce more cops does generally the less cry but more leave the less prime at in dreams are social cost and antisocial cause you'd, never really measured. Very carefully rain and The question is in no do cops. Reduce crime is due cops, reduce crime enough over the options that we have to make focusing on them the right way to go and having framed outweighed the defensive policeman comes much harder. They have huge, so
Costa and realise that every cost benefit analysis. You ve, seen on policing, compares to crime reductio pleasing to the budgetary costs of pleasing. How much we spend on cops. We Finns, George Floyd's death, doesn't show up in these calls. Benefit analyses, rights, emotional strain, a black parents having the top of their kids at their kids are afraid just to see the cop down the street. Not does it because it's going to kill them, please get at harass them right. Plenty of black man had described. Stop in France. is basically a forest sexual assault where they put together all they tend to grab your grinding grabbing really like humility, kind of way that these are these are real costs that we just don't, Sure I mean that there is in fact a large body of evidence about things like drugged, remain and economic support and an apple we're programming thanks media organisations and even like restricting access to alcohol, making just harder and more expensive to get alcohol by the single biggest drug for crime is alcohol. There are things that we do and that we know we can do, but we still,
Hence it instinctively just asked the police. What should we do and we saw if you the please it's kind of objective discussions, going on in there. Not they are a very powerful political interest. Group does feeling incredibly threatened are going to argue that the solution is more of them and it's not and there are things we can do. We just need to get make this point stronger, so politicians feel more comfortable Morgan, They try to embrace the things I honour on a much bigger scale. I am John fast for me voracity, professor of law. The book is locked in True causes of mass incarceration and how to achieve real reform I really am recommended to people who want to go. sort of grounding in what the two big drivers mass incarceration are with this whole, can a topic is I'm thinking, So much for joining me. I'm thanks are always to our sponsors producer, allergenic us in the region
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Transcript generated on 2021-08-20.