Photo of the day

Love, love this gallery of photos of nominated for UK Press Guild awards:


Sherburn in Elmet Tyre Fire.Picture: Anthony Chappel-Ross

Why has crime declined

There’s an amazing new report from the folks at the Brennan Center looking to explain the dramatic declines in crime over the last two decades.  Very short version– a whole bunch of stuff and increased incarceration and “broken windows” policing are just a very, very small part of the story.  The whole report is quite readable, but it’s long.  One of the authors has a great summary in the Atlantic.  Here’s what they found in cool pie chart form:

More and better policing is certainly part of the story.  And they admit some role for the reduction in lead, but it is harder to measure than some of the other theories.  Probably the most important conclusion is that increased incarceration is doing nothing any more to actually bring down the crime rate.  Here’s the conclusion from the Atlantic piece:

A Sensible Way Forward

No one factor brought down crime. Today, incarceration has become the default option in the fight against crime. But more incarceration is not a silver bullet. It has, in fact, ceased to be effective in reducing crime—and the country is slowly awakening to that reality. Incarceration can be reduced while crime continues to decline. The research shows this and many states are watching it unfold.

Where do we go from here? As President Obama said it in his State of the Union last month, “Surely we can agree that it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, crime and incarceration have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves all of us.” And indeed, reforming our criminal justice system is emerging as a bipartisan cause. Everyone from Jeb Bush to Hillary Clinton to the Koch Brothers to George Soros has made similar calls.

We should listen to them. There are bold, practical policy solutions starting to gain bipartisan support. Incarceration can be removed as a punishment for many non-violent, non-serious crimes. Violations of technical conditions of parole and probation should not lead to a return trip to prison. Sentence maximum and minimum lengths can be downscaled across the board. There is little reason to jail low-risk defendants who are simply waiting for their trials to begin. And, government funding streams can change to reward reducing incarceration.

Crime is expensive. We do well to fight it. But increasing incarceration is definitely not the answer.

Meanwhile, if you are so inclined, Vox has created what amounts to a tremendous summary of the report that is very well worth reading.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Are liberals just as anti-science as conservatives, just on different issues?  Thanks to motivated reasoning, anybody will be anti-anything they are not disposed to agree with, regardless of what science says.  So, yes.  But degree matters:

However, the negative reaction of conservatives when they read about climate change and evolution was four times greater than that of liberals who read about nuclear power and fracking. Both liberals and conservatives showed evidence of motivated resistance against the facts related to the science topics that challenged their political beliefs.

But again, conservatives reacted more strongly than liberals, probably because the issues were hot buttons for conservatives.

Explain it away all you want (as the article) does, but this difference matters.

2) Great satire of anti-vaxxers– I’m an anti-braker.

3) It really bothers me that in a very wealthy county, many think it is the job of parents, not the state/county, to pay for full-day Kindergarten.

4) Very thoughtful piece from Amanda Hess on the incredibly blurry line of where drunk sex becomes sexual assault.

5)  Fred Hiatt on the anti-science beliefs of believing that GM foods are bad for you.

6) Seth Masket on the long-term strategic (and successful!) campaign of the Federalist Society to turn the federal judiciary substantially more conservative.

7) Regardless of how wrong Brian Williams may have been (and I’m pretty forgiving given what we know of how human memory works), I think Jon Stewart nails it on the media obsession.

8) Cannot say I’m surprised to learn that Wall Street firms secretly pay their employees to work in government.

9) How Louisiana’s refusal to expand Medicaid is leading to very real harm in the form of closed ER’s.

10) North Carolina’s Innocence Commission is awesome.  I really wish more states would do something similar (and I’m grateful that the current powers in Raleigh have not tried to eliminate it).

11) Pretty amazing how bad the vaccination rates are for the kids of America’s most famous Silicon Valley tech companies.

12) Obviously, I’m no expert on foreign affairs, but I found both these pieces really compelling.  They both argue that the solution is not military, but doing what we can to help improve Ukrainian society and government.

What Putin fears most in this whole confrontation isn’t the introduction of some Western tanks or rockets; it’s a thriving, prosperous Ukraine—it’s an example to the rest of the former Soviet republics (and to the people of eastern Ukraine, and for that matter Russia) that a better, richer life can be had under Western styles of governance and economics than under Putin’s dream of a resuscitated USSR…

Ukraine needs a massive infusion of aid and, even more, investment, along with expansive political ties with the West.

13) Is Scott Walker too far right to win the Republican nomination?  I don’t think so, because I think he’s really good at coming across as far less extreme than he actually is.

14) Love this Aaron Carroll piece on the best way to prioritize young lives (more focus on suicide reduction, for example, would be great).  It’s a great argument that we ignore the opportunity costs when we focus on some approaches (for very rare, but scary, causes of death) and ignore other, far more common, causes.

15) Jon Chait on how Democrats have become the child care party.

16) I found this totally fascinating (and I think my wife will too if she makes it this far into quick hits) on how brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are all actually the same plant.  Really!  (Thanks, Vox!)

17) It really is crazy how communities are expected to massively subsidize the sports stadiums that enrich millionaires and billionaires.

%d bloggers like this: