Why are so many Americans in prison?

Excerpt from Loury's article (this part I agree with):
This new system of punitive ideas is aided by a new relationship between the media, the politicians, and the public. A handful of cases—in which a predator does an awful thing to an innocent—get excessive media attention and engender public outrage. This attention typically bears no relation to the frequency of the particular type of crime, and yet laws—such as three-strikes laws that give mandatory life sentences to nonviolent drug offenders—and political careers are made on the basis of the public’s reaction to the media coverage of such crimes.
I disagree with the latter parts of the article where the author shows naive humanitarianist tendencies. This part is particularly silly:
If we take these questions as seriously as we should, then we would, I expect, reject a pure ethic of personal responsibility as the basis for distributing punishment.
The ethic of personal responsibility is the only basis on which to distribute anything. Any corrosion of this principle, such as by the introduction of a welfare state, or such as by being lenient to a certain "disadvantaged" class of criminals, perverts society and rots it from the inside out.

I do believe that the American system of criminal "justice" is severely counter-productive, but it must be fixed in a way that is fair and race-neutral, not in a way that favors a certain class of criminals because they are supposedly "disadvantaged" and thus not entirely responsible for their own actions, such as murder, robbery and rape.

Like Supreme Court Justice Roberts wrote, the way to stop discrimination is not to discriminate.


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