Sunday, January 06, 2008

We catch too many criminals...

I have an idea forming in my head...

A catch and release system is, I submit, even worse than one in which we don't catch. Think about it, there are 50 burglars in town. We arrest one and he goes to prison for five real years. Now there are 49 burglars. Some thinking about it don't start. Some go merrily on. Some are deterred and quit. Let's say only two. So where there were 50 burglars yesterday, there are 47 today.

But here's a secret- no one really knows how many burglars there are, not even the burglars. But everybody knows that every one we catch goes away.

Now, let's catch 20 of those burglars. Ten plead guilty and get suspended sentences. Ten go to trial. Five are acquitted. Four are convicted and get suspended sentences. One is convicted and gets five years. Let's say two decide to quit.

We still have 47 burglars on the job, which is bad.

We've spent a lot more money and trouble, which is worse.

Even worse is a lesson we've taught the burglars and the public, especially the potential burglar. We have taught them that even if caught, a burglar is unlikely to be locked up. We have shown directly that we're only going to lock up 5% of them.

And the worst lesson is that whether one is locked up or not is, in the minds of the public and the burglars, a completely random event! Hell, why NOT break into houses, if one has no internal governor to prevent it.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

So what you are really saying is the system fails us. Too many felons being given a free pass, especially the first offenders. The solution, I gather, is not to arrest fewer, but to incarcerate many. Which would require more prisons. Which would rally the hue and cry Not in My Backyard!