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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 6, 2009 / 16 Menachem-Av 5769

With imprisonment up, crime is down

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in prisons and jails in the United States, roughly 140,000, or 6 percent, are serving life sentences. Of that number, about 41,000 — i.e., 29 percent of the lifers, or 1.8 percent of all inmates — were sentenced to life without parole. Both numbers are at an all-time high.

Should Americans be troubled by this? The Sentencing Project thinks so. In a new report, the liberal advocacy group — which describes itself as a promoter of "alternatives to incarceration" — complains that the growth in life sentences has been costly and unjust. It "challenges the supposition that all life sentences are necessary to keep the public safe." It particularly disapproves of life-without-parole sentences, which, it claims "often represent a misuse of limited correctional resources and discount the capacity for personal growth and rehabilitation that comes with the passage of time."

As a matter of policy, the Sentencing Project supports abolition of both the death penalty and life without parole. In its view, even a vicious mass murderer deserves a chance at parole. That is an eccentric position that most Americans clearly don't share. Nevertheless, the group's new report — "No Exit: The Expanding Use of Life Sentences in America" — has drawn media attention; stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and Agence France-Presse, among other outlets.

But good PR is not a substitute for sound analysis.

The problems with "No Exit" begin with the first paragraph, which asserts that the high incarceration rate in the United States is the result of "three decades of 'tough on crime' policies that have made little impact on crime."

America's prison population has indisputably grown in recent years, as prison sentences have lengthened and more criminals have been locked up. But far from negligible, the "impact on crime" has been dramatic. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Americans experienced 44 million crimes in 1973. By 2007, the number of criminal victimizations had dropped to 23 million. During those "three decades of 'tough on crime' policies," in other words, crime in America was nearly halved — and this even as the population grew by more than 75 million. Since the mid-1990s, the plunge in violent crime has been especially steep: from more than 51 crimes of violence per 1,000 US residents in 1994 to 21 in 2005 — a 59 percent reduction.

Research analyst Ashley Nellis, lead author of the Sentencing Project's new report, concedes that it is "intuitive" to attribute the striking reduction in crime to the fact that many more criminals are behind bars. But some researchers, she told me yesterday, have determined that incarceration rates account for no more than one-fourth of the drop in crime. Among those she mentioned was economist Steven Levitt, who is known for his controversial Freakonomics argument that the legalizing of abortion in the 1970s helps explain the crime reduction of the 1990s.

Yet even Levitt has estimated that for each additional criminal locked up, there is "a reduction of between five and six reported crimes." In a 2004 paper, he identified "increases in the prison population" as more significant than any other factor in explaining the drop in homicide and other violent crimes. The Sentencing Project may insist that incapacitating criminals through more and longer prison sentences has "made little impact on crime," but those prison sentences have spared countless Americans from being assaulted, robbed, raped, and murdered.

Nowhere in "No Exit" is there any breakdown of the crimes that led to the 140,000 life sentences now being served. Yet the report devotes almost obsessive attention — including five statistical tables — to the alleged racial disparity those sentences reflect. About 48 percent of lifers are black, 33 percent are white, and 14 percent are Hispanic. "These figures are consistent with a larger pattern in the criminal justice system," the report notes, "in which African Americans are represented at an increasingly disproportionate rate across the continuum from arrest through incarceration."

Yet the report mentions only in passing another striking disparity: Nearly 97 percent of inmates serving life terms are men. If it is noteworthy that blacks, who account for 12 percent of the general population, make up 48 percent of lifers, shouldn't it be even more significant that men, who comprise less than half the population at large, represent nearly all those sentenced to life?

The explanation, of course, is that men commit the vast majority of serious crime; that hard fact, not sexism, explains the disproportionate male incarceration rate.

Likewise the racial disparity: Though blacks account for just one-eighth of the US population, they are six times more likely than whites to be murdered, and seven times more likely to commit murder. That hard fact, not racism, explains the high proportion of lifers who are black. But such inconvenient facts appear nowhere in the Sentencing Project's report. "No Exit" brims over with information and statistics — but only the ones that reinforce its sponsor's preconceived views.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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