Sunday, September 25, 2016
Why we should lock more people up, and it’s not what you think
The Australian writer below says "We put people in the clink more and more" and "crime is falling". He attempts no inferences from that. Could one be the the consequence of the other? He is similarly insouciant in attributing the good results in Norway to Norwegian lenience. That there might be even better results from a less lenient system seems not to have occurred to him. He can't get beyond his Leftist assumptions
I’VE always thought jail is mostly a bad idea: It takes young people and puts them in constant contact with society’s very worst. They eventually emerge with no skills but a tight-knit network of former criminals.
Under my theory, jail is mostly unhelpful for the people that are in there — we only send people to jail because it is hopefully scary enough to deter people from committing crime.
Australia has a jail addiction though. We put people in the clink more and more.
There are lots of explanations why this might be, including the fact we use private prisons even more than America. (And America is reconsidering whether private prisons are a good idea.)
In 2014, The Catholic Prison Ministry said: “Handing the administration of punishment over to corporations will lead to conflict between the social interests of citizens as stakeholders and financial interests of corporations to maximise profits for shareholders.”
And I thought they were probably right, because crime is falling:
It’s not just murders. Break-ins, robbery and motor vehicle theft all went down in the last five years. Sexual assault and theft rose.
(Taking the really long view, violent crime is at record lows: “Violent deaths of all kinds have declined, from around 500 per 100,000 people per year in pre-state societies to around 50 in the Middle Ages, to around six to eight today worldwide, and fewer than one in most of Europe.” Steven Pinker told the Scientific American in 2011.)
You can see why I was cold on prison. And experts agreed. “Putting more people in prison diverts resources from vital social infrastructure and cost effective initiatives which have been shown to successfully address the underlying causes of crime,” these experts said.
But some new research from Norway is making me weigh up my view. It finds prison is good, and it does so in a very clever way.
There is an obvious problem researching whether prison works. Ex-prisoners tend to commit a lot of crime. Did prison made them like that? Or were they always like that?
The clever thing this research does is comparing groups of prisoners who are otherwise the same, except for the judge they get. Some got a judge who puts away prisoners more than half the time, some got a judge that gives two out of three offenders community service or similar.
This means we can look at how much crime the two groups commit later, and the only likely difference between them is the influence of a prison environment.
This research finds jail is great. The prisoners who go to jail end up getting 10 fewer criminal charges. (The result is not due to simply being unable to commit crime in jail — the reduction starts from when the person is released, over an equivalent period of time.)
The ones that went to jail also have much better employment outcomes — they are more likely to find work.
There is an important point to make. Jail seems to really work for some kinds of people. It strongly improves the chances for people who were not employed. Jail didn’t prove to be either positive or negative for people who previously had jobs. The reason is probably that jail adds a lot of structure and training to their lives.
“Imprisonment causes a 34 percentage point increase in participation in job training programs for the previously non-employed, and within five years, their employment rate increases by 40 percentage points,” according to academics Manudeep Bhuller, Gordon B. Dahl, Katrine V. Loken and Magne Mogstad in their paper,Incarceration, Recidivism and Employment.
It’s worth pointing out this research happened in Norway, where jail can be pretty different (even “luxurious,”) and most prison sentences are under a year.
“In Scandinavian countries like Norway, the prison system focuses on rehabilitation, preparing inmates for life on the outside. This is done in part by investing in education and training programs, but also through extensive use of “open prisons” in which prisoners are housed in low-security surroundings and allowed frequent visits to families while electronically monitored. In comparison, in many other countries, rehabilitation has taken a back seat in favour of prison policies emphasising punishment and incapacitation.”
It seems like jail can be pretty useful for some people — so long as you design it to be useful. Unfortunately, Australia’s prisons are more like America’s than Norway’s.
We could make our prisons like Norway’s. But first we need to decide if we can stomach being “nice” to prisoners in order to actually stop them from committing more crime later. I’d support that. But I suspect for a lot of people, that’s not going to be acceptable — for them, punishment is what matters most.
Boy, four, is snatched off the streets by a multiculturalist as he walked home from school
Police described the suspect as a black man, who was wearing a black baseball cap with blue writing on the side. He was also wearing a long thick gold chain and a blue t-shirt
Police have launched a manhunt after a four-year-old boy was the victim of an attempted kidnapping as he made his way home from school with his mother.
The boy was snatched by a stranger near St Agnes Catholic Primary School in Bow, east London at 3.10pm on Monday.
According to social media reports he was saved by his older brother, who chased the man.
The suspect dropped the boy and fled after bring confronted on Monday afternoon.
The suspect and the boy are not thought to be known to one other.
Police described the suspect as a black man who was wearing a black baseball cap with blue writing on the side. He was also wearing a long thick gold chain and a blue t-shirt.
Extra police patrols have now been deployed around the area and parents are being warned to be vigilant.
Letters sent to parents and later shared across social media claimed the child's older brother chased the man and rescued the child.
Officers have now confirmed they are hunting the kidnapper and are warning parents to be vigilant.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: 'Police are investigating a report that a four-year-old boy in school uniform was the victim of an attempted kidnap near to St Agnes Primary School at 3.10pm on Monday.
'The boy was allegedly picked up by the suspect at the end of a school day. The suspect tried to make off with the boy before being confronted, dropping the child and leaving the scene.
'Safer neighbourhood officers have increased patrols in the area. There was an alleged attempted abduction of a child outside St Agnes Primary School on Monday.
'Police are investigating the incident. Neighbourhood police will now be present outside the school at the beginning and end of the school day.
'Tower Hamlets Council and Police are reminding parents, staff and children to remain vigilant and to report anything they believe to be suspicious to the police by calling 101.'
British anti-terror police cut back on stopping and searching passengers at airports and ports amid fears of racial profiling - despite severe terror threat
The number of passengers being stopped and searched at UK ports and airports has fallen despite heightened fears over terror attacks.
Just over 23,000 people were stopped by counter-terrorism officers while leaving or entering the country in the 12 months until June this year.
That is 23 per cent down on the previous year, despite the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe warning it is now a matter of 'when, not if' an attack takes place in the UK.
It comes after a row over stop and search powers at airports, in which critics claimed 'racial profiling' was being used to discriminate against ethnic minorities.
British officials are not allowed to racially profile passengers, although some, including human rights group Liberty have claimed authorities are stopping people 'based on stereotype rather than genuine suspicion'.
The Home Office has insisted the reduced number of people stopped is not due to racial profiling or fears among anti-terror police of being accused of racism.
They say the drop in numbers is due to other techniques being used rather than randomly stopping passengers, The Times reported this morning.
Earlier this year, security expert Philip Baum praised Israel's El Al airline, which trains its workers in psychological observations techniques, which are then used as part of the security process.
Mr Baum said: 'All the money is being thrown at the screening and check process, but I believe it's vital we implement proper profiling and use behavioural analysis for security.'
He added: 'For me profiling is not about racial profiling, and should not be seen as politically incorrect.'
Terrorists set off bombs in Istanbul Airport earlier this summer, leaving 45 people dead, including 19 foreigners.
I won't let Labour's racist bullies defeat me: Jewish MP reveals the terrifying anti-Semitism that's now the norm in her Party's hard left
'One of the things that makes me most angry about this whole thing is that I've ended up as 'the Jewish MP'. And worse, a victim and a target. I should be the MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, a hard-working, lifelong member of the Labour Party.'
She describes herself as 'a Labour, socialist, Jewish, woman' in that order.
'Actually, British first: British, Labour, socialist, Jewish, woman.'
Smeeth, 37, is the MP who walked out of the launch of the Chakrabarti report, an inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, after being harassed by a member of Momentum, the activist group behind Jeremy Corbyn.
Since then she has been called a 'yid c***' (among other racial slurs), a 'CIA/ MI5/Mossad informant', a 'dyke', and a 'f***ing traitor'. In all, she's experienced more than 25,000 incidents of abuse, much of it racial.
As a result, two people are being investigated by counter-terrorism police — one of whom penned a 1,000-word essay on how he would kill her.
'I initially assumed [the author] was from the Far Right,' she says. 'And then someone rang to inform me it was a Corbynista.'
Chakrabarti's report (and the subsequent abuse it generated) is to be debated by Labour's National Executive Committee. It states: 'A political home, like a domestic one, should be a place where you feel comfortable and safe, even and especially when things are more difficult on the outside.'
And yet because of threats from her own party, Smeeth now has 'security' organised by the parliamentary authority and police. She can't give details but says she won't be going to Labour Conference alone on Sunday.
'I am still going — I can't let the intimidators win. Do I think it will be pleasant? No. Do I think there will be a lot of anger? Probably. But I'm sensible about what I'm doing, how I'll be and what I'll do, and I won't be by myself.'
We meet at her office in Stoke-on-Trent, decorated with photographs of former Labour prime ministers and campaign posters.
Smeeth is tall with a big laugh. She might wear a gold Star of David under the neckline of her dress, 'but I don't talk about Israel or Palestine. This [abuse] is not about anything I've said on Middle East politics. I don't participate.'
She describes herself as 'culturally Jewish' . Her husband is Irish Catholic.Her political concerns reflect her immediate constituency, one of the poorest in the country. If anything, the furore over her religion distracts from more pressing issues.
There were rare flashes of anti-Semitism under Ed Miliband, who is Jewish, 'but not like this. I've never seen anti-Semitism in Labour on this scale. There were one or two incidents before, and the reason why they were so shocking is that there were only one or two. Now the sheer volume has made it normal.'
She lists MPs — not necessarily Jewish — who have received abuse generally, from Angela Eagle to Mary Creagh, who had a brick thrown through her Wakefield constituency office last week.
'Neil Coyle had death threats when his wife was eight months pregnant. Ian Murray had threats shouted outside his office when he was in Parliament but his staff were there. Stella Creasy has had tons, as has Jess Phillips.
'There are so many it's becoming normal. And that's difficult. I've just named half a dozen MPs without trying. It's the opposite of what we promised after Jo Cox was murdered.'
Could she imagine this happening to Conservatives?
'The Tories care more about power than ideology,' she says, 'so they would squish it really quickly. They wouldn't let it get in the way of them running the country.'
Smeeth has raised the issue of racism with Jeremy Corbyn 'privately' on 'numerous occasions' from December 2015. 'Each time the same answer: 'I am anti racist, therefore it's not a problem.'
She rolls her eyes. 'It wasn't even acknowledged. Until it was a rolling news story after Ken [Livingstone made comments about Hitler supporting Zionism], he ignored it.'
Her verbal evidence was taken by Chakrabarti 'and I am cited in the report. Not by name, but there are very few female Jewish MPs: Louise Ellman, Luciana Berger and me.' And because of this, she was invited to the inquiry launch.
It took place on June 30, a fortnight after Jo Cox's murder, a week after Brexit and 'the same week we had passed a vote of no confidence in Jeremy and I had resigned'.
'The atmosphere was strange. At least half the room didn't know why they were there, just that it was 'a Jeremy event'.
'Leaflets were distributed attacking the report as 'unfounded' and 'unnecessary'. 'I said to a friend: 'This feels horrible.' It was moody. It shouldn't have been.'
Mark Wadsworth, a Momentum activist, began handing out 'press releases' calling for de-selection of certain MPs (including Smeeth). 'I asked for one. He refused. Someone said: 'It's a Jewish event, she's a Jewish MP, give her a copy.'
'He went: 'What's her name?' I said: 'Darlin', my name's Ruth Smeeth.' ' He wrote it down.
Three journalists offered her their copies, and she took the closest, from Kate McCann of the Daily Telegraph. McCann then tweeted that Labour MPs at a Labour event were getting abuse from Momentum.
'In the Q&A, Jeremy said again that he didn't believe in abuse of any form. And then Shami allowed Wadsworth to speak.
'He said: 'Ruth Smeeth is working hand-in-hand with the Right-wing media to attack Jeremy.'
'So I shouted: 'How dare you?' The audience started shouting at me — at the launch of an inquiry into how we treat Jews in the Labour Party! Jeremy said nothing. So I walked out.
'If one of my councillors was being shouted at I would have stopped it. You get involved, especially if, like Jeremy, you are standing next to a sign which says 'Standing up and not standing by' at an anti-Semitism event.'
While the incident looped on the news, Smeeth waited for a call —'from Corbyn, from his office, from the front bench, from someone, anyone.' There was silence.
So she issued a statement saying Labour was no longer 'a safe space for British Jews'.
Corbyn's office manager called and said Jeremy would be in touch that evening. 'But it never came.'
In fact he wasn't in touch for ten days, and only called 45 minutes before giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee.
When his office did finally arrange a meeting, at 9am one Wednesday in London, Ruth says: 'I was there. Jeremy wasn't.
'His team said: 'Jeremy understood that the meeting hadn't been confirmed', so he didn't turn up.'
Mostly she puts Corbyn's behaviour down to shambolic lack of organisation rather than anything sinister. 'I've spent a lot of time with Jeremy,' she says. 'The disconnect between the Jeremy I know and the Jeremy who his supporters think he is — and what they are prepared to do in his name or for him because they think that is what he wants — is huge.
'My biggest issue is that Jeremy knows it's happening and that it's still happening. His words about unity are fine until his surrogates go out and say things like 'People will get what's coming to them', or 'De-selections are acceptable'.
'If he has surrogates attacking parts of Labour that have supported the party for decades and decades, then he's got a problem and we've all got a problem.'
She says many of the surrogates are 'clear and upfront' about who they are. Others stay anonymous.
'It's rarely your own constituents — they are disgusted and appalled by such behaviour' — she's been sent flowers, pottery and letters of support. 'They are also getting fed up with me being called the Jewish MP.'
What should Corbyn do?
'If Jeremy highlighted three or four really offensive comments done in his name and said: 'This is the sort of thing I believe is beyond the pale', that would be good. Name and shame. Make it clear they don't speak for him.'
Many have concerns about the virulent militancy within Momentum, set up following Corbyn's election as leader to harness the enthusiasm of his grassroots supporters.
Smeeth says there are some 'good people' but that she's 'wary of the long-term aspirations of some of their leadership', including those 'who have yet to vote Labour in a general election'.
The problem is that 'they've been abysmal about racism. And this talk of de-selection is attacking colleagues instead of Tories. I'd like an alternative government. Momentum is a hindrance to that. It's disgraceful.'
Are they a cult around Corbyn?
'It's something weird. There was a 'Jeremy for leader' phone bank here on the same day as a local by-election. They were calling Labour members rather than helping get the vote out. Their priority is not the Labour Party. It's not fighting the Tories. Their priorities are skewed.'
Smeeth was born in Edinburgh, the daughter of an East London Jewish girl and a rugged Scottish trade unionist. An only child, her father left when she was three. 'And when he left, he left. But my mum is my heroine.'
Her maternal family arrived in London having escaped Tsarist pogroms in the 1890s. One of her grandfathers set up a Jewish trade union branch for carpentry.
'My grandmother was literate and wrote complaint letters for all the old dears on the council estate. It was a version of councillor surgeries.
'My favourite story was when Sainsbury's changed the cap colour of semi-skimmed milk and all the old dears were very angry. My grandmother coordinated a joint letter to say 'they've all bought the wrong milk and it's cost them a fortune'.'
They moved to Bristol, where her mother worked as deputy general secretary of the union Amicus. 'I used to earn my pocket money delivering leaflets for Labour. I door-knocked for the first time in the 1992 election. I'd have been 12.'
Today, many of her constituents are not Corbyn fans. 'They don't think he can represent the country. They don't like his past relationship with the IRA.'
She says they find it 'offensive' when Jeremy — with his middle-class upbringing — says he doesn't consider himself wealthy.
'He earns £130,000 a year. My constituents are doing well if they earn 10 per cent of that,' she says. 'Perhaps it's easy to be an ideological purist if you can afford to live under the Tories. My constituents can't.'
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.