To Combat Black Incarceration, Set Criminals Free!
We’ve heard a lot of crying from the left that black people in America are over-represented in the nation’s jails and prisons. This, of course, is not because black people commit more crime. It is because the racist system goes out and arrests black people for doing things that whites get away with. Or it’s because black people are forced into crime because of their poverty. The poverty itself is caused not by a failure on the part of the individual, of course, but because of that systemic racism.
We hear this all the time, but liberals rarely come up with a cohesive solution. That’s really not their area. They prefer to march, cry, and “feel bad” about a situation and leave the solutions for someone else. When they do decide that they need to come up with a solution, it becomes quickly evident why they usually leave that part out of their movement.
No better illustration for that can be found than in a recent Dane County Board hearing in Madison, Wisconsin. County officials are planning to build a new jail, and the residents are revolting. Well, a few of them are. They aren’t angry about their tax dollars being spent wastefully. They are angry because area police are arresting black people in upsetting numbers. A protest group called the Young, Gifted, and Black Coalition thus showed up to the meeting to make some highly unusual demands on the Board.
“I have to say that I’m ignorant about a lot of these things,” says one white liberal woman, “I adopted three African-American kids that I love passionately.” This apparently qualifies her as an expert to speak on whether or not the county needs a new jail. “I either have to move to Sweden or become active.”
“We also demand the immediate release of 350 people black people,” says another “expert” who looks like she got off a three-day Cheetos bender to speak at the meeting, “due to crimes of poverty and structural racism.” Another townsperson gets up to the podium to explain that “crimes of poverty” include homelessness, drugs, and theft.
Instead of spending millions on a new jail, says one protestor, the county should put that money into creating green jobs, retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient, and investments in wind power.
It’s not yet certain whether or not their arguments will persuade Dane County to abandon the new jail, though it’s unlikely that the Board will vote to release 350 random black prisoners. Even judging by liberal standards, that’s a ridiculous demand.
But this kind of thinking, dumb as it is, is not limited to a few protestors in Madison. It is, in many ways, the core argument of the Black Lives Matter movement. Improving relations between police and black communities is not about putting more blacks on the force or passing out candy in the projects. It’s about arresting fewer black criminals. It’s about turning a blind eye to low-level crimes. Instead of working towards getting blacks to renounce criminal activity, they want to get police to stop doing their jobs.
There is room to talk about racial profiling, the wisdom of prosecuting crimes that hurt only the person engaged in them, and systemic causes of poverty. But in pursuing these aims, liberals have gone too far. They have renounced personal responsibility. And without that, things will never really change.