A new look at existing data by LSU researchers refutes the Trump administration's claims.
- The United States Department of Defense gifts surplus military equipment and clothing to local police departments.
- The militarization of police coincides with a significant loss of trust in law enforcement from the American public.
- Militarized police departments are more likely to interact violently with their communities.
A wide lack of support<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk0NTA5MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MTgxMjQ3MX0.MkHMggYd2V-JEEGobDPR51QSNgycPFCUFXGMMPCS2cc/img.jpg?width=980" id="e4754" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="523ef043784b62c3fba76f42668de0a4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="912" />
Credit: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images<p>It's no wonder that more than half of the American public <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/12/us/gallup-poll-police.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">no longer trusts the police</a>. It's hard not to get the impression that for many police departments, the mission has changed from one of support for its communities to an attempt to intimidate and dominate its members.</p><p>Studies back this up. Police whose departments use military equipment are <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2053168017712885" target="_blank">more often violent</a> with community members and are more likely to kill them. Neither is this a small problem at the margins of policing: <a href="https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/nationaltrends" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Over 1,000 people</a> are killed by police annually.</p><p>In spite of the Trump administration's faith in the soundness of the 1033 program, others from across the political spectrum disagree. On the right, the Charles Koch Foundation <a href="https://www.charleskochinstitute.org/issue-areas/criminal-justice-policing-reform/militarization-of-police/" target="_blank">asserts</a>, "This erosion of public confidence in law enforcement and low support for militarization impedes law enforcement's ability to effectively secure public safety." From the left, the American Civil Liberties Union <a href="https://www.aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police/police-militarization" target="_blank">says</a>, "We advocate for a return to a less dangerous, more collaborative style of policing. We should not be able to mistake our officers for soldiers."</p>
Sketchy records<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk0NTA5NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMTE1Nzk5MX0.KuoUq6a7B-1Pc01yH9bMziQE6rTg-aGvN00SgSCBUVA/img.jpg?width=980" id="7f861" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="602430081af21aa3ec2c66b79042a96a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="1033" />
Credit: JeremyAdobe Stock<p>Gunderson explains to <a href="https://www.lsu.edu/mediacenter/news/2020/12/07polisci_gunderson_nature.php" target="_blank">LSU Media Center</a> that, "scholars rely on accurate data to track and analyze the true effect of police militarization on crime. Policymakers also need accurate data to base their decisions upon. However, to-date, we do not have reliable data on SME transfers to local police and sheriffs through the federal government."</p><p>The research cited by the Trump administration was a study done by the American Economic Association based on SME data collected through a 2014 Freedom of Information Act request. Having a look at that data themselves, along with other FOIA 2014 data released by National Public Radio and newer data from 2018, the LSU researchers found that things didn't quite line up. Where FOIA suggests certain counties received SME, NPR's data showed no such transfer. Similarly, NPR reported departments receiving items such as weapons, grants that were not reflected in the 2018 data as expected.</p><p>"When we looked at the data and ran the replications, nothing looked like the results being cited by the Trump Administration," Gunderson recalls. "We spent a year trying to diagnose the problem."</p>
Instead<p>The LSU researchers' conclusion was the the previously released SME data from the DOD was too inconsistent to produce reliable insights. They conducted their own analysis, aligning newer data with country-level LEA data, to derive a cohesive, accurate picture that allowed them to more definitively assess who got SME transfers and who didn't, and what effect it had on local crime statistics.</p><p>They found no indication that SME transfers led to a reduction in crime. The study concludes, "we find no evidence that federal distributions of SME to local LEAs across the United States reduce crime rates, neither violent nor nonviolent crime rates, in the jurisdictions that receive it."</p><p>Gunderson adds:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This is a cautionary tale about the importance of oversight. The most important thing for policymakers and the public to know is that you can't justify giving surplus military equipment to police departments on the grounds it will lead to a reduction in crime. There is no evidence for that. You can't claim this program is important because it reduces crime."</p><p>What's more says, the report, "because of serious data problems and debatable methodological choices in prior studies, the empirical foundations on which social scientists, along with policymakers and the public, stand when making causal claims about the effects of the transfers of SME may be no firmer than quicksand."</p>
An elephant at the Bronx Zoo has become a cause célèbre for animal rights activists.
- A 47-year-old Asian elephant's final years are at issue in legal proceedings.
- The larger question is whether or not animals are entitled to habeas corpus rights.
- Several judges have gone on record stating that courts need to face the issue of legal rights for animals such as Happy.
The work of the NhRP<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc4ODc4MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MDkyMzYxNn0.02IMVvzctNmg69YidVXXEpX2npRLKqP_jDVcpeIiQ-A/img.jpg?width=980" id="26683" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1311c1cdd2ba7db3c4ff6c7c7c1872b3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="960" />
A captive Asian elephant in Germany
Credit: Cloudtail the Snow Leopard/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0<p>We've written previously about the NhRP and its legal work aimed at securing personhood rights for non-humans, including two chimpanzees named <a href="https://bigthink.com/robby-berman/court-ruling-denies-appeal-for-tommy-and-kiko-but-not-their-rights" target="_self">Tommy and Kiko</a>. The premise of the chimps' case was that they deserved protection from unlawful detention or imprisonment afforded under the legal concept of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habeas_corpus" target="_blank"><em>habeas corpus</em></a>.</p><p>In law, there are only two things an entity can be: It can be either a thing or a person. It's obvious that intelligent, feeling creatures—and we're learning that more and more animals are exactly this—are not just things. However, getting courts to recognize them as persons is a heavy lift. As NhRP attorney Steven M. Wise tells Big Think, "the word 'person' came loaded with emotional baggage," with people mistaking the legal term "person" as being synonymous with the common use of the word "human."</p><p>In the end, the NhRP wasn't able to secure the release of Tommy and Kiko to a chimp sanctuary, but nonetheless managed to move animal rights forward with a remarkable opinion by associate Eugene M. Fahey of the New York Court of Appeals. While ruling against the NhRP over legal technicalities, Fahey delivered a groundbreaking dissent about which Wise says, "I think in the years to come, that Judge Fahey's concurrence [with NhRP] is going to be seen as the breakthrough in the United States towards gaining legal rights for non-human animals."</p><p>"While it may be arguable that a chimpanzee is not a 'person,'" Fahey wrote, "there is no doubt that it is not merely a thing." He added, "The reliance on a paradigm that determines entitlement to a court decision based on whether the party is considered a 'person' or relegated to the category of a 'thing' amounts to a refusal to confront a manifest injustice."</p>
An easier case to make<p>Fahey did disagree with the NhRP on one point—aside from the legal issue on which the court ruled against them—and Wise says that after thinking about Fahey's perspective for the last few years, he now agrees. The NhRP is pursuing a very different approach for Happy than they did for Tommy and Kiko.</p><p>Fahey noted that with laws already on the books such as New York State's <a href="https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ny-trusts-chapter-17-b-consolidated-laws" target="_blank">pet trust statute</a> that make Happy a beneficiary of legal protections, she already <em>has</em> rights. Following logically from that is that if she has rights, the judge pointed out, she is not a thing and therefore qualifies as a legal person entitled to <em>habeas corpus</em> protection.</p><p>In the past, the NhRP argued that Tommy and Kiko qualified as legal persons who would then deserve rights. Fahey's insight has given the NhRP a far easier case to make. It no longer requires a court to invent some new status that's neither thing nor person to deliver justice to animals.</p>
Happy's case moves forward<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc4ODc5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NzIwMDE1NX0.QYFzqzt3qdqGZQTDwTtqnFVa4aV_hnHMay9adba1n7A/img.jpg?width=980" id="d8238" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="88568365f58808b624dc7a535ebf778e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="960" />
Asian elephant in the wild
Credit: Deanna DeShea/Unsplash<p>The proceedings on Happy's behalf have been going on since October 2018. The case began in New York's Orleans County, some 300 miles northwest of the Bronx Zoo. It was a district identified by the NhRP as perhaps holding a sympathetic view of personhood based on a case in which it granted a used-car dealership that status as a victim of a break-in. Wise recalls a sentence in the judgement that caught NhRP's attention: "It's common knowledge that personhood can and sometimes does attach to non-human entities like corporations or animals."</p><p>So far, it's been a long series of push-and-pull maneuvers between the NhRP and WCS. While WCS has generally been winning judgements, often on proceeding-related grounds, NhRP has scored some landmark victories.</p><p>In December 2018, the New York Supreme Court, Orleans County heard oral arguments regarding elephants' rights to <em>habeas corpus</em> based on Fahey's guidance. This was the <a href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/happy-habeas-hearing-albion/" target="_blank">first-ever such hearing</a> on behalf of an elephant, and only the second for animals altogether. (The first was for two of the NhRP's early clients, chimps <a href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/celebrating-two-years-of-sanctuary-for-hercules-and-leo/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hercules and Leo</a>.) The hearing resulted in the case being transferred to the Bronx as per the WCS's wishes.</p><p>In Bronx Supreme Court Justice Alison Y. Tuitt, the NhRP found a sympathetic judge who heard an extraordinary 13 hours of arguments during which the NhRP presented testimony supporting their case from five elephant experts. Wise notes that the WCS, which employs many of its own elephant experts, curiously chose not to present any testimony from them supporting the position that Happy should remain where she is.</p><p>After hearing arguments, Tuitt described Happy, the first elephant ever to have passed the <a href="https://www.livescience.com/4272-elephant-awareness-mirrors-humans.html" target="_blank">mirror self-awareness test</a>, as "an extraordinary animal with complex cognitive abilities, an intelligent being with advanced analytical abilities akin to human beings." She also concluded that Happy "is more than just a legal thing, or property. She is an intelligent, autonomous being who should be treated with respect and dignity, and who may be entitled to liberty."</p><p>While WCS presented detailed descriptions of Happy's current care, health, and status, Tuitt notes in her opinion that "none of the Bronx Zoo's affiants present any evidence that they have studied any wild elephant, or know about any elephant's basic social, emotional, behavioral, liberty, and autonomy needs, whether captive or wild."</p><p>Tuitt rejected WCS position that Happy's current living situation at the Bronx Zoo is the best option available for the elephant, stating that "the arguments advanced by the NhRP are extremely persuasive for transferring Happy from her solitary, lonely one-acre exhibit at the Bronx Zoo to an elephant sanctuary."</p><p>Expressing regret, Tuitt felt bound by appellate court decisions regarding NhRP's chimp cases and ruled against releasing Happy. Fahey has written elsewhere that he now believes those earlier cases in which he participated were wrongly decided.</p><p>The NhRP is appealing on November 19 to the First Judicial Department, which Wise says is not bound, as are other courts, by previous rulings. He feels optimistic that with Tuitt's supportive decision in hand, he won't need to spend so much precious court time relitigating the basics of the NhRP's case. He also notes that should the WCS once again prevail, the next stop would be the Court of Appeals, where Fahey is one of seven justices who will hear Happy's case.</p>
What do we want to do with convicted criminals? Penology has several philosophies waiting to answer that question.
- What is the purpose of punishing a convicted criminal supposed to be? It depends on which philosophy you prescribe to.
- None of these ideas are without their detractors, or qualifying evidence.
- As the United States grapples with criminal justice reform, the arguments each philosophy has behind it will have to be considered.
Retributive justice<p> Perhaps the most straightforward idea about <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/punishment/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">punishment</a> there is; if someone does something very wrong, they cause themselves to be worthy of <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/justice-retributive/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">punish</a><a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/justice-retributive/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ment</a>. This punishment is good by itself, even if there are no side effects. Most theorists in favor of this system also posit that the punishment should be proportional to the crime and that it should only affect those duly convicted. </p><p>Most people have a strong intuition about this. A famous thought experiment with many variations asks people to imagine that murderers enjoy long tropical island getaways where they can't hurt anyone after conviction but appear to be suffering in jail for TV cameras every now and again, to deter other potential murderers. Even if the deterrent works, you might feel that something is off here. Something that can only be corrected by inflicting some kind of punishment on the murderer. </p><p>University of Chicago Professor Albert W. Alschuler argues that retributive justice can have positive consequences in addition to any inherent justice it <a href="https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1893&context=journal_articles" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">offers</a>. </p><p>He puts forward the idea of a neighborhood where no one parks correctly, with drivers frequently boxing in others and parking too close to stop signs and fire hydrants. The laws against this are unenforced in that neighborhood. Because there is no consequence for inconsiderate parking, there is no reason to be considerate yourself; your neighbors will continue to act like this in any case. It ends up being the case that everyone acts this way to avoid being a sucker. He points out that this situation could be resolved by punishing the lawbreakers, as it would drive people back to a state of fair play. He summarizes the concept by saying, "Withholding punishment is inappropriate when doing so would encourage people to conclude, 'Everyone else is looking out for themselves, and I'll be a fool unless I become a little bit like them.'"<br> <br> </p><p>Arguments against retributive justice often focus on the difficulties of justifying harsh treatments (rather than just punitive damages or restitution) against the convicted in a way that aligns with broader principals of justice. Many theories that attempt to do so have been deemed unsatisfactory by other <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/justice-retributive/#QuesJust" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">philosophers</a>. Others point out that retributive systems only look backward on what has been committed and not forwards, to what situation we'd like to be in after matters are settled. </p>
Deterrence<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/G21L5bvxARM" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Deterrence theory is the idea that punishments for crime should exist primarily to discourage others from committing a similar crime or to assure the punished individual won't do it again. For example, making the potential costs of committing a crime too high to justify doing it in the first place. </p><p><a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bentham/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Jeremy Bentham,</a> the <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/most-eccentric-philosophers-history" target="_self">eccentric</a> founder of Utilitarianism, took a consequentialist approach to punishment. Seeing punishments as "always evil," he nevertheless hoped that the use of them could deter crime by others, increasing the total happiness of society overall and reducing the number of criminals in the future. He combined this support for deterrence with elements from other <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bentham/#PenLawPun" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theories</a>. </p><p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesare_Beccaria" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">C</a><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesare_Beccaria" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">easre Baccaria</a>, a jurist in Milan during the Enlightenment, argued that crimes strained the social contract and that punishments should be used to assure that people continued to stick to it. Rather than a retributive scheme, this called for a deterrence system to ensure that neither those punished nor those aware of the punishments would desire to commit such crimes in the future. </p><p>Of course, there are objections to this idea as well. The most common revolves around the theory's assumption that most people who break the law weigh costs and benefits before doing so. A point many would contest. The previously mentioned thought experiment (with the murderer on the island) also points to another objection to pure deterrence theories. Deterrence can be produced without actually punishing the convicted, a situation that strikes many as unsatisfactory. </p>
Rehabilitation<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/q_hAE95LriQ" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Rehabilitative theories of punishment are diverse in their foundations. In general, they look at what causes a person to turn to crime and try to remedy the situation.<strong></strong></p><p><strong> </strong>Many proponents of rehabilitative theories argue that the decision to engage in criminal behavior is not as clear cut as other theories suggest. Factors of economic opportunity, addiction, mental illness, social issues, and circumstance can make it more or less likely that a person will be driven to crime. With that in mind, they suggest that the penal system should focus on resolving or mitigating those issues. </p><p>Others are more utilitarian in perspective. They argue that a person who went into jail with a criminal tendency is likely to come out the same way unless some action is taken. What that looks like, be it job training, education, counseling, or something else, depends on the situation. Making it less likely someone will return to crime by providing these services, they argue, benefits society as a whole. </p><p>This comparatively holistic and often humane approach doesn't mean there isn't a potential dark side to rehabilitation. The theory is very dependent on our understandings of psychology, sociology, and criminology being accurate. Mistakes can have horrible results. The modern practice of solitary confinement, a practice now deemed <a href="https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25633&LangID=E" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">torture</a> by the United Nations when used for more than two weeks, goes back to recommendations by the Quakers that leaving criminals alone and slightly sensory deprived would allow for <a href="http://learning.law.harvard.edu/frontiertorts/topics/solitary-confinement/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">repentance</a> and reformation. They were extremely <a href="https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/10/solitary" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrong</a>. </p><p>Even when it works, there are concerns about its implications. In his pro-retribution <a href="https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1893&context=journal_articles" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">essay</a> on criminal justice, Professor Alschuler cites Francis A. Allen's argument that a dedication to rehabilitation can make it challenging to limit the scope of state involvement, as "one immediate consequence of a rehabilitative regime is a drastic enlargement of state concerns. The state's interests now embrace not only the offender's conduct, but ... his motives, his history, his social environment." </p><p>The concerns of libertarians and others interested in a limited state are easy to comprehend. </p>
Enough of this abstract philosophy, what does the data say?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/buCU6eP9iVA" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Empirical data does exist in a wide variety of areas related to the criminal justice system. Here, we can use it to see if the above conceptions of justice can do what they set out to do. </p><p>Retributive justice benefits from only seeking to deal punishment out to those convicted of crimes, which it often manages to do. It isn't easy to empirically measure such a thing, but its various side effects can be measured.</p><p>Studies show that those close to a convicted individual can share the effects of punishment despite them not having committed a crime <a href="https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/6148/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">themselves</a>. Similarly, a criminal record's impact can follow people long after they have "paid their debt to society," suggesting that it is more difficult to assure "proportionality" in sentencing than might be <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/134712/wounds-incarceration-never-heal" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">supposed</a>. In the United States, unequal sentencing is a known and well-documented <a href="https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/un-report-on-racial-disparities/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">problem</a>, suggesting more difficulties in reaching the ideals of retributive justice in reality. </p><p>Deterrence theory has a fair amount of empirical evidence against it. Studies suggest that many crimes are committed under the rationality reducing influence of <a href="https://www.sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Deterrence-in-Criminal-Justice.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">alcohol</a>, that few people can tell you what the punishments for a given crime <a href="https://www.sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Deterrence-in-Criminal-Justice.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">are</a>, and that many people don't consider the possibility of being caught when planning a crime. </p><p>Longer sentences are associated with slightly higher recidivism <a href="https://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/gendreau.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rates</a>, the opposite of what a proponent of deterrence theory would expect from people with first-hand knowledge of the prison system. Likewise, programs like "scared straight" don't seem to do much. </p><p>However, Professor Daniel Nagin has argued for the existence of a general deterrent <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20161005063450/http://faculty.washington.edu/matsueda/courses/587/readings/Nagin%201998.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">effect</a> while also suggesting it is difficult to use this to make any new policy. Dr. Valerie Wright suggests that a deterrent effect does <a href="https://www.sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Deterrence-in-Criminal-Justice.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">exist</a>, but adds that it is tied to how certain a person is that they will be caught and given a specific punishment rather than how terrible their punishment might be. </p><p>Rehabilitation has shown promise in achieving its goals. Efforts at providing <a href="https://static.prisonpolicy.org/scans/ny_ged.shtml" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">education</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/research/action/aftercare" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">addiction treatment</a> in the American prison system lead to reductions in recidivism. The Norwegian prison system, based on rehabilitation and renowned for its <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/feb/25/norwegian-prison-inmates-treated-like-people" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">humanity</a>, boasts one of the lowest recidivism rates in the <a href="https://www.salve.edu/sites/default/files/filesfield/documents/Incarceration_and_Recidivism.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">world</a>.<br> </p><p>Despite this, American efforts have yet to match the Norwegian system's effectiveness levels, and some studies also suggest that modern treatment programs have little effect on individuals with <a href="https://www.gwern.net/docs/algernon/2006-harris.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">psychopathy</a>, who are disproportionately incarcerated and have a high rate of <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/can-you-call-a-9-year-old-a-psychopath.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recidivism</a> to begin with. <br></p><p>What this data means is going to be influenced by which of the above arguments appeal to you. Do the side effects of retributive policies or the problems we have in assuring equal punishments for similar crimes outweigh the moral intuition towards punishing criminals? Do failures in rehabilitative practices make the concept worthless? Can deterrence be of use even if we know a disproportionate number of criminals aren't acting along the lines of its assumptions? </p><p>The raw numbers can't answer these questions by themselves. Philosophy has to step in and provide the tools for value judgments, answer questions of justice, and help determine where the line between theory and practice has to be drawn. </p><p>We'll probably never be rid of the need to do something with people who harm or violate the rights of others. What we do with them is another question. No definitive answer exists for what models of justice and punishment are best. Still, by considering the philosophy and raw data around each model, we might find something that works for our society. While many people would support a system that uses elements of all three of these considered philosophies, alongside others, how much of each to use remains the subject of continual debate. </p>
The Labour Economics study suggests two potential reasons for the increase: corruption and increased capacity.
Cool hand rebuke<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyMTIyNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjY1NTYyOH0.0MCPKN3If94mYCNf3mMNrnTvJXjXN_bKLhgk9203EXk/img.jpg?width=917&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C0&height=453" id="1627b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6d76421ba1ea0de4b09956b97e80c384" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="917" data-height="453" />
A chart showing prison population rates (per 100,000 people) in 2018. The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.
Who profits with for-profit prisons?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="97ac37e6c7f6f22ec130ea2d56871701"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/dB78NV2WpWc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The Labour Economics study suggests that privately-run prisons do convicts a few favors at the moment of sentencing. However, proponents of private prisons often point to other benefits when making their case. Specifically, they argue that private prisons reduce operating costs, stimulate innovation in the correctional system, and reduce recidivism—the rate at which released prisoners are rearrested and return to prison.</p><p>In regard to recidivism, the research is mixed. <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0011128799045001002" target="_blank">One study</a> compared roughly 400 former prisoners from Florida, 200 released from private prisons and 200 from state-run facilities. It found the private-prison cohort maintained lower rates of recidivism. However, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1745-9133.2005.00006.x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">another Florida study</a> found no significant rate differences. And two other studies—one from <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0011128799045001002" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Oklahoma</a> and another out of <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0734016813478823" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Minnesota</a>, both comparing much larger cohorts than the first Florida study— found that prisoners leaving private prisons had a greater risk of recidivism.</p><p>The research is also inconclusive regarding cost savings. <a href="https://www.hamiltonproject.org/assets/files/economics_of_private_prisons.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A Hamilton Project analysis</a> noted that such comparisons are difficult because private prisons, like all private companies, are not required to release operational details. In comparing what studies were available, the authors estimate the costs to be comparable and that "in practice the primary mechanism for cost saving in private prisons is lower salaries for correctional officers"—about $7,000 less than their public peers. They add that competition-driven innovation is lacking as the three largest firms control nearly the entire market.</p><p>"We aren't saying private prisons are bad," Galinato said. "But states need to be careful with them. If your state has previous and regular issues with corruption, I wouldn't be surprised to see laws being more skewed to give longer sentences, for example. If the goal is to reduce the number of incarcerated individuals, increasing the number of private prisons may not be the way to go."</p>
Researchers are using technology to make visual the complex concepts of racism, as well as its political and social consequences.
- Often thought of first as gaming tech, virtual reality has been increasingly used in research as a tool for mimicking real-life scenarios and experiences in a safe and controlled environment.
- Focusing on issues of oppression and the ripple affect it has throughout America's political, educational, and social systems, Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn of Columbia University School of Social Work and her team developed a VR experience that gives users the opportunity to "walk a mile" in the shoes of a black man as he faces racism at three stages in his life: as a child, during adolescence, and as an adult.
- Cogburn says that the goal is to show how these "interwoven oppressions" continue to shape the world beyond our individual experiences. "I think the most important and powerful human superpower is critical consciousness," she says. "And that is the ability to think, be aware and think critically about the world and people around you...it's not so much about the interpersonal 'Do I feel bad, do I like you?'—it's more 'Do I see the world as it is? Am I thinking critically about it and engaging it?'"