The State of Wisconsin released from prison the first of some 3,000 Wisconsin inmates Tuesday. It's part of Gov. Jim E. Doyle's penny wise, dollar foolish governance.
lllinois Gov. Pat Quinn suspended that state's early out program in December after The Associated Press revealed the Illinois Department of Corrections was releasing hundreds of inmates too early. Several of Illinois' parolees were arrested within weeks of their release for various offenses. [Associated Press: 01-06-10]
In the meantime, the State of Wisconsin is thinking about laying off prosecutors? Assistant D.A.'s are already taking unpaid furloughs. Now they're looking at additional time off, at the very least. Dane County's DA shop is already understaffed. Gov. Jim E. Doyle cut the statewide budget for district attorneys by $7.7 million, or 8.1 percent. It's already taking too long to resolve criminal cases. [Wisconsin State Journal: 01-06-10]
Law enforcement is a first thing. We have a government that can own car companies and now wants to run your doctor's clinic but cannot keep the skies or the streets safe.
Backward reels the mind
Remember Stu Levitan's deathless quote? Stu went on Blaska's Blog to attribute crime and the breakdown of social order in Meadowood on "the lack of employment opportunities, affordable health care, and adequate mass transit."
As I wrote for WI Magazine, published by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute:
The gang bangers are sending each other to the emergency room to promote "the public option" in Nancy Pelosi's health care plan? Where is Joe Wilson when you need him?
But Stu is an honest specimen of the liberal thinking process. Lack of a school breakfast program, no midnight basketball, etc. etc. The corollary of the liberal canon is to indict the police. It is the residue of the 1960s' "Kill the Pigs" philosophy as espoused by Bernadine Dohrn and Obama friend Bill Ayers whose antipathy toward authority, if not methods, are still excused by today's Left.
On the Madison Common Council, one could count on Madame Brenda to oppose hiring more police to patrol the streets. At the county level, count on The Kathleen to insist on a revolving door policy that vitiates the success of those extra police by returning lawbreakers to the same streets from which they were apprehended.
That is why an Isthmus writer could ask: "Does our community really believe the best way to confront at-risk kids who are out at night without adult supervision, engaging in no criminal activity, is to put them in the back of a squad car?"
In Meadowood, some nights, the back of a squad car may be the safest place in the 'hood.
That is why, in the worst economy since the Great Depression, that old liberal warhorse, the New York Times, called for a quick infusion of federal greenbacks to spend on social busybody programs.
"The economic crisis," the paper's editorialists wrote, "has clearly created the conditions for more crime and more gangs - among hopeless, jobless young men in the inner cities."
Maybe that is why Ronald Reagan famously said liberals know so many things that aren't true.
Safe streets = economic development
Well, the results are in. Crime is down, big time. Nationally, for the first half of 2009, homicide dropped by 10 percent, violent crime by 4.4 percent, and property crime by 6.1 percent. The drops were biggest in New York City and Los Angeles -- homicides declined by 19 and 17 percent, respectively. No accident that both cities are policed by devotees of the "Broken Window Theory" advanced by criminologists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling.
That drop in crime "has undercut one of the most destructive social theories that came out of the 1960s: the idea that the root cause of crime lies in income inequality and social injustice."
So writes Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute in the Wall Street Journal this week.
As the economy started shedding jobs in 2008, criminologists and pundits predicted that crime would shoot up, since poverty, as the "root causes" theory holds, begets criminals. Instead, the opposite happened. Over seven million lost jobs later, crime has plummeted to its lowest level since the early 1960s. [A Crime Theory Demolished: 01-05-10]
In fact, crime nationally has declined to its lowest level since the 1960s. And the "root causes" social services approach wasn't even correct back then.
The 1960s themselves offered a challenge to the poverty-causes-crime thesis. Homicides rose 43 percent, despite an expanding economy and a surge in government jobs for inner-city residents. The Great Depression also contradicted the idea that need breeds predation, since crime rates dropped during that prolonged crisis.
What does work? The kind of "Broken Windows" policing that William Bratton pioneered in New York and now practices in Los Angeles -- and Noble Wray practices here in Madison.
(That) mentality is the opposite of root causes excuse-making; it holds that policing can and must control crime for the sake of urban economic viability. ... Their success in lowering crime shows that the government can control anti-social behavior and provide public safety through enforcing the rule of law. Moreover, the state has the moral right and obligation to do so, regardless of economic conditions or income inequality.
Here is something else that works, according to Heather MacDonald: incarceration.
... an increase in the number of people incarcerated had a large effect on crime in the last decade and continues to affect crime rates today, however much anti-incarceration activists deny it. The number of state and federal prisoners grew fivefold between 1977 and 2008, from 300,000 to 1.6 million.
As Dane County Sheriff Gary Hamblin used to say: "I've got the bad guys in my place."
And here is something else you have read before in Blaska's Blog: All your bike paths and Overture Centers will grow weeds if people do not feel safe in the public square. In MacDonald's words:
Public safety is the precondition for thriving urban life. In 1990s New York, crime did not drop because the economy improved; rather, the city's economy revived because crime was cut in half.
Fighting crime and maintaining order is the Number One quality of life issue -- every time, everywhere.
Platinum Subscriber bonus material
- One last thought on Babs Lawton's unexplained and sudden withdrawal from the governor's race -- not so mysterious. Think about it, the lady got a call from the White House -- probably from Rahm Emmanuel -- saying his boss had already picked the Democratic nominee because Tom Barrett would not agree to make the race if he had to fight his way out of a primary.
The Capital Times knows that. Heaven help us all if George W. pulled those kind of strings but then, he was never Chicago style.
- Byron Dorgan in North Dakota, Chris Dodd in Connecticut, Gov. Bill Ritter in Colorado, the congressman's party switch in Alabama.
"It's not good news for Democrats," said Roy Temple, a Democratic strategist. [Politico: Top Democrats head for the exits]
Courtesy of the always essential Moonbattery