Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

2015 saw no ‘war on cops’ and no ‘national crime wave’ but private-prison exec says good times are ahead

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First, Radley Balko has a good article in the Washington Post on how crime rates have fallen and how policing has never been safer for law-enforcement officials. For example:

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 11.33.15 AM

And, later in his article:

So what about the overall crime rate? Here’s an excerpt from a press release sent out yesterday from the group Law Enforcement Leaders:

Amid misleading reports on increasing crime, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration—a group of 150 of the country’s most prominent current and former police chiefs, sheriffs, district and state’s attorneys, U.S. Attorneys, attorneys general, and other law enforcement leaders—has issued the following statement. Members of the group include the leaders of the New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Houston police departments . . .

“Crime in the U.S. is at an all-time low across the country, and we expect it to stay that way,” said Ronal Serpas, Chairman of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration and the former New Orleans Police Superintendent. “Despite some misleading reports about a surge in crime rates, the data show just the opposite. In fact, as recent studies show, the overall crime rate will be lower this year than it was last year, and half of what it was in 1990. Some cities have seen a rise in murder, but these are isolated incidents—not a new crime wave—which local leaders are taking steps to address.

“At this moment of rare national consensus that incarceration levels in this country have reached a crisis point, we cannot let sensational headlines slow the momentum to reduce unnecessary incarceration. As public officials charged with keeping all Americans safe, we’re counting on real reform to help us focus our resources most effectively and continue to keep crime at its historic lows across the country.”

Here’s the most thorough of those studies, from the Brennan Center. Even the New York Times, which last summer helped drive fears about an alleged national crime wave with a (much criticized) front-page article about urban crime, is backing off. From an editorial last month: . . .

Read the whole thing.

But despite the good news, private prisons see a bright future. Lee Fang reports in The Intercept:

A senior executive with the second-largest for-profit prison company in America assured investment bankers last summer that despite talk of drug policy and criminal justice reform, the country will continue to “attract crime,” generating new “correctional needs.”

“The reality is, we are a very affluent country, we have loose borders, and we have a bad education system,” said Shayn March, the vice president and treasurer of the Geo Group. “And all that adds up to a significant amount of correctional needs, which, thankfully, we’ve been able to help the country out with and states with by providing a lower cost solution.”

The previously unreported remarks were made during a presentation at the Barclays High Yield Bond & Syndicated Loan conference in June.

While students and activists have protested private prison corporations, scoring a recent victory last week with the decision by the University of California system to divest from firms like Geo Group and Corrections Corporation of America, the firms have largely avoided the spotlight.

Private prison companies are a controversial player in America’s criminal justice system. In the 1990s, private prison firms pushed for tougher sentencing laws at the state level and have been tied to efforts in recent years to compel local law enforcement officers to enforce immigration laws. Geo Group has also been faulted for multiple incidents of abuse, ranging from inmates who have died in their facilities to employees charged with sexual assault.

March told attendees at the conference that he was getting questions about drug offenses and sentencing guidelines, an issue he noted had been raised by Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. “I got to be honest with you, there’s very few people I know, if anybody, who’s in prison for smoking marijuana. It doesn’t exist, guys. That’s not why people are in prison,” March said.

Rather than reducing incarceration rates, March told his audience that drug reform could have the “opposite effect” by increasing prison terms. Most drug-related sentences, he asserted, are the result of plea deals stemming from violent crimes, so if there isn’t an alternative plea arrangement, the only outcome defendants face is for the violent crime, which carries longer sentences. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2015 at 11:38 am

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