It’s tempting to utter a phrase like “the cyclical nature of crime,” as a way to gloss over the more poorly understood aspects of a problem, as this article does. But if you’re familiar with logical fallacies, you have to ask, is there really a cycle, and if so, where does that cycle come from? Fortunately, they hint at an answer on page two.
When the country faced a rise in violence in the early 1990s, federal and local authorities responded with a crackdown that sent thousands to prison.
“Those folks have to come back out, and they donâ€™t have jobs,” Wexler said. “You know what theyâ€™re going to be doing.”
And where did that “rise in violence in the early 1990s” come from? Let’s see, possibly from a prison population explosion (and resulting expulsion) from the 80s’ war-on-drugs arrests (you know, the ones that were actually hard-core enough to warrant real prison terms)? Nah, couldn’t be. And so on.
It’s important to realize that these bubbles–the Baby Boom, the Internet bubble, the Housing bubble–are political and sociological effects. We do these things to ourselves through our short-sighted policies and prejudices. In the case of our exclusively-punitive criminal justice system, the effects are direct, if deferred: a generalized crime crackdown now mean a crime wave in our future.