The other day I wrote a bit about drug and crime policy ideas that the new administration could adopt. Mark Kleiman, a legitimate expert on the subject, has his own informative take up. Crime’s been gone as a political issue for years now, but substantively it still counts as something we ought to worry about. As he says, this is a big deal:
The U.S. has twice the homicide rate and five times the incarceration rate of Canada or Western Europe. We keep 2.3 million people in cells, and criminal violence sent 1.8 million people to the emergency room last year. Crime shapes where people live and work. It perpetuates concentrated poverty. African-Americans are about six times as likely as others to be murdered, and to be incarcerated. Alcohol and tobacco are the two largest public-health problems as measured by morbidity and mortality; the illicit drug trade creates violence and enforcement against that trade accounts for more than a fifth of all incarceration, again with an especially heavy toll among young poor black men.
Meanwhile, we appear to be looking at—optimistically—a period of several years before we can return to full employment. That will almost certainly mean more crime and more prisoners unless we find some smarter policies.