Now that weed is legal, the next great cause of libertarians is something equally pointless. That is prison reform. Rand Paul has been banging the drum for a year now. He is motivated, in part, by political concerns. He wants to inoculate himself against charges of racism so teaming up with a famous black on prison reform is his avenue. I guess he thinks that because blacks dominate the prison scene, this will appeal to blacks. I’m thinking Rand does not know much about liberals or blacks.
The rest of the libertarian cult has been jumping on board as well. The other day Kevin Williamson had a piece up on it. He was basing his article on the NYTimes article singing the blues about the state of New York prisons. I imagine they just went into the archive and fished out some articles from the 60’s and 70’s. Since the beginning, radical politics has been about letting the criminals wreak havoc on society.
Libertarians are always looking for ways to make nice to the Left. It used to be free weed and complaints about the Christians. That was how you could reject Progressivism, without getting in trouble with the Cult. Now that weed is legal and many Republicans are declaring themselves libertarians, the Randians need a new bed to hide under. They seem to have landed on prison reform. Like drug legalization, it appeals to liberals, who fashion themselves as populist, and it is entirely meaningless in the great debates of our age.
That last bit is vital to libertarians. Taking on topics like homosexual marriage, a proxy for cultural dominion, will put you at odds with the Cult. Pushing for the end of public sector unions could ruin your life. Tackling issues that have no practical impact on Americans is a safe way to stand apart from the Left and the Right.
When it comes to prison reform, you’ll note that libertarians are mostly offering up warmed over ideas from the 60’s. The resulting mayhem brought about the end of the New Left in an orgy of violence. From Rand’s bill:
The REDEEM Act proposal would encourage states to raise the age of criminal responsibly to 18 years of age; expunge or seal the records of juveniles who commit non-violent crimes before they turn 15; place limits on the solitary confinement of most juveniles; and establish a system to allow eligible nonviolent criminals to petition a court to ask that their criminal records be sealed. Sealing the records would keep them out of FBI background checks requested by employers and likely make it easier for those former offenders to secure a job.
A massive amount of crime in the ghetto is committed by teenagers. My guess is Rand simply has no idea what happens in the ghetto so this sounds reasonable to him. Like all libertarians, he probably suffers from the belief that all people, regardless of race, will flourish if left to their own devices. Take away the game keepers from the black ghetto and you get Detroit, but you have to live here to know that, I guess.
That may be what’s at work here. Kevin’s piece is mostly a rehashing of the Times article with some complaints about government bureaucrats. He takes it on faith that the reporting is accurate, despite the long history of fabrication by the New York Times. The state abusing innocent citizens is considered the highest crime imaginable by libertarians, so that’s probably what got his attention. Even so, it is a safe topic on which to be outraged, which is what makes it attractive to libertarians in general.
As I pointed out in the comments, the main reason our prisons are so horrible is they are full of criminals. Fill up our prisons with cub scouts and nuns and they will not be so bad. Fill your state legislature with members of the local street gang and see what happens. Our jails are full of very bad people. Most of them will keep committing crimes until they are dead or too feeble.
The sorts of people attracted to daycare work are not the same type attracted to prison work. There’s a reason Mary Poppins was not the chief executioner of the state. Warehousing evil, violent men is dangerous work. It will attract a fair number of sociopaths and sadists. That means prison abuse will always be a part of prisons. As is true in all human endeavors, there are trade-offs. In this case, we put up with some abuse in order to keep the streets safe.
I also pointed out in the comments that the reforms that would make prisons less chaotic and dangerous are simply not permitted. Prisons should be segregated by race and sentence. Putting blacks and whites in the same cage is insane. Putting violent lifers in the same cage as common thieves and drug dealers on short sentences is equally nuts. But, the Cult will never permit such segregation so we are left with human warehouses.
Similarly, the people working in prisons should be segregated by race and sex. Frankly, it may not make any sense to have black prison staff, given that most of the prisoners are black. Too many guards are from the same neighborhoods as the prisoners. Maybe geographic segregation would solve the problem. Again, there’s no way the Cult would permit this sort of reform as they want the mayhem that comes from guards working as go-betweens for the prison gangs.
Having women guard male convicts is probably the craziest thing a society can do. This story from Baltimore is fairly typical. Women and men are different as a matter of biology, evolution, culture and psychology. Men guarding women or women guarding men will have predictably bad results. There should be no women permitted in male prisons and no men at women’s prisons. But, we know that will never be permitted.
There are other reforms that would make out prisons vastly more humane and peaceful. The Cult running our society simply refuses to do them. The reason is the people running the Cult of Modern Liberalism would prefer to fling open the prison doors and send the criminals out to feast on the hated core of society – the white middle-class. Libertarian interest in prison reform is just another way to avoid taking part in the culture war.