Law-and-order conservatives are so bent on using the state to punish perceived criminals that they’re contributing to the very problems they claim to want to solve.
On last Thursday’s edition of 980 Live, a talk radio show on KMBZ, host Darla Jaye spoke at length on how to punish those responsible for gun violence. A caller made the point that current laws aren’t tough enough, and the host agreed, saying that violent offenders are too easily paroled. What went entirely unmentioned was why violent offenders tend to be released so early, which is often to make room for all of the non-violent, e.g., drug offenders.
It’s not that the laws aren’t tough enough, it’s that the laws are too tough! Because of mandatory sentencing, an idea supported most heartily by law-and-order conservatives, there are thousands of people spending the rest of their lives in cages for selling drugs. Meanwhile, actual criminals are being set free to accommodate these mandatory sentences.
Repealing these terrible laws and ending the drug war would be a great first step in ensuring hardened criminals face some kind of justice. What that actually entails is something for another post, but I’ll at least mention that I’m not convinced caging people is the best way to deal with crime, and a system focussed on restitution seems preferable.
Besides just throwing people in the clink, another suggestion from the audience was there ought to be a better way to ensure mentally unstable people don’t get their hands on guns. This of course opened the discussion to the idea that more people should be institutionalized, and that states should find it easier to involuntarily commit the mentally insane.
Anthony Gregory wrote about this recently, and argued that such a despotic system was once prevalent, and should never be revisited. He also made a more general point, which is certainly important to consider. Essentially, he argued, there is no perfect solution to this problem and there isn’t one way to go about fixing it. This much is true: granting government more power and making tougher laws will only do more harm than good; no good ever came from giving up more of your freedom.