Crime and No Punishment - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Crime and No Punishment

One of every 14 adult males in Oakland, California, is a parolee or a con on probation. An “estimated total of 11,400 parolees and probationers” call Oakland home, reports the Los Angeles Times, making it the “ex-con capital of California.”

As the city teems with dangerous ex-cons, its homicide rate continues to climb. One hundred thirteen homicides occurred last year. So what conclusion does the Los Angeles Times draw from these numbers? “Message From Oakland: How ‘get tough laws’ victimized a fragile city,” read the headline on its piece last Sunday.

That’s right: criminal laws, not criminals, left 113 people dead on the streets of Oakland last year, according to the logic of the Los Angeles Times. Notice the headline says “get tough laws victimized” the city. Law-abiding Oakland residents are under the delusion that criminals victimize them. No, no, it is the criminal code that they should fear.

The “message” from a city crawling with ex-cons killing people is: Don’t release criminals from jail. But the Times tells us the message is: Don’t pick them up in the first place. You see, it is the criminal justice system (“months in prison”), not their character, that makes them killers. Inside jail these friendly felons learn all sorts of nasty tricks. So it is better not to place them there at all. If you see a gang member knifing someone or turning your neighborhood into a crack emporium, don’t call the cops. Find a job for him at Blockbuster. Otherwise, this sweet youngster will get an “education from [his] big-time felon cellmates.” Not that the big-time felon cellmates are to blame either. The system corrupted them too, as evident in its churlish cutbacks on cable television and other instruments of moral uplift for prisoners. Many “prison-based counseling and education programs” have been “gutted,” says the Times, thanks to the state’s crazy notion that a prison’s primary purpose is “punishment.”

The Times has found a magical solution to Oakland’s cycle of crime: Take crimes off the books. That will break it. Criminals suddenly become safe if their conduct is no longer criminal, according to liberal logic, just as underperforming students suddenly become smart if they enter smart schools through quotas.

Reality, however, is not subject to self-delusion. Re-defining reality doesn’t change it. Repealing “get tough” laws will not make Oakland safe anymore than deleting diseases from medical textbooks will make people healthy.

The problem is not “tough laws” but the absence of tougher laws. Why lock up criminals in Oakland? is not the question. The only sentient question is, why release them? Lock habitual criminals up and keep them locked up. “The city is a stark example of how tough laws are putting more seasoned criminals on the streets of California,” says the Times. No, Oakland is an example of how liberals return criminals to society and they terrorize again. A skyrocketing homicide rate is exactly what one would expect in a liberal city that coddles criminals.

Naturally, the Times finds a way to blame this “pathology of pain” on racism. The Times lets Rose Braz, director of some insane advocacy outfit called Critical Resistance, get away with saying: “Racism is at the core of this criminal justice system and anybody who tells you otherwise is lying.”

Shannon Reeves, whom the Times makes sure to label “an officer of the California Republican Party,” says much of the crime in Oakland is black-on-black. He notes that racism didn’t pull the trigger in last year’s 113 homicides. Pointing to bars on windows in Oakland homes, he said to the Times, “The bars aren’t there because you’re afraid of the Klan…You have bars on your windows because you’re afraid other black people might break into your house.”

Rev. Bob Jackson of East Oakland’s Acts Full Gospel Church of God in Christ told the Times: “As black men we have to come together, because it’s our problem. It’s not the white man’s problem. It’s not anybody’s problem but the black man’s.”

This isn’t what the Times wants to hear. Oakland’s problem, it says, is due to a “crackdown,” a “get-tough attitude” that cycles harmless crack users through jails. These innocents don’t learn crime on the streets of Oakland but in whitey’s prisons.

Could a Jesse Jackson culture that is soft on crime and even softer on moral depravity have something to do with it? No, that’s not a permissible thought. California is a grove of enlightenment where liberals solve the problem of low test scores by abolishing tests and combat crime by not fighting it.

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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