To say Chicago has a crime problem would be an understatement. It has a HUGE problem with VIOLENT crime.
Efforts to address the crime problem are diverse and all are, for some reason, controversial. Criminologists, for example, want to let as many criminals out of prison as possible so they generally will not advocate for increasing penalties associate with crime--even if it means reducing crime.
Some minority groups and their advocates, can you say BLM, argue that anti-crime efforts will disproportionately affect minorities.....who are involved in crime......and that would be bad...especially for minorities involved in crime.
And of course we cannot engage in or advocate for proven methods that reduce crime and violence, like targeted deterrence and stop-n-frisk because they, too, get tied up in racial ideology.
So what happens? Nothing. Horrible levels of violence remain, the cops do what they can and sometimes do nothing, and the politicians argue.
It is striking that today we cannot even agree that removing violent criminals from the street is not only necessary but just. It is striking how far the rhetoric of “mass incarceration” has reached and the influence it now has on even the most fundamental of criminal justice goals: responding to and effectively managing violent offending.
Recent stories coming out of Chicago capture the competing intellectual arguments about how best to manage violent crime.
Take a look at this story: _ and this story _ as examples.
Violent felons, who are often on probation, are not allowed to posses firearms. Sort of makes sense, right?
Of course, they are criminal so following the rules is not their forte. When caught with a weapon, however, their sentence is anything but deterrent. And let me add that many of these guys get caught for other crimes....and that is how the cops find the weapon. In turn, the weapon charges are usually plead down or away. Again, no real penalty.
I spent the entirety of last summer walking the streets of Cincinnati’s ghettos. I interviewed many, many men. The majority of them had weapons on them or had weapons stashed close by---under a car hood, inside a tree trunk, under a picnic table, or inside a mailbox. Many others flaunted their guns....making no effort to conceal them. Virtually all were on probation, had charges pending, or were under supervision.
To me this is a no brainer. You can protect the rights of responsible gun owners, not pass draconian gun laws or draconian sentencing reforms, and still target those who are violent, those who use weapons in their crimes, and those who have weapons on them when forbidden.
If you care about the people who live in those communities, you will cut through the silliness, the politics, and the rhetoric and you will put violent men in prison and you will keep them for as long as is legally possible and as long as is ethical.
Of course, given the agendas involved, maybe even this is asking too much.
John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi
Professors of Crime and Criminology