Part #4: The myth of ‘institutional racism’
What does a progressive jail look like? Dane County is about to find out.
A progressive jail would treat mental illness, avoid solitary confinement, train and educate as much as incarcerate. Fair enough.
But here are the maddening part. The reconfigured jail would accommodate fewer inmates, even though Dane County is the fastest-growing county (by total numbers) in the state: 91 fewer after the first phase — a 9% reduction.
As consultants Mead & Hunt reported: “No new beds should be added to the system, as recommended by the County Board.”
Even more maddening, some of Madison’s most disreputable protestors and scofflaws and some of the university’s most radical sociologists played a major role in setting guidelines for the jail — to the exclusion of any neighborhood safety group, business interest, or service club. Not a single moderate/conservative was included in its planning stages.
No wonder the board’s Public Protection & Judiciary Committee PP&J “further recommends that overall reform of the criminal justice system being undertaken by the Criminal Justice Council and others proceeds as rapidly as possible to divert individuals from the criminal justice system.”
Under the banner of “Housing Not Handcuffs, Healthcare Not Jail Cells,” various socialist and BLM groups will rally against the jail one hour before the scheduled 7 p.m. public hearing in board chambers at the City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
The County Board’s own “Racial Disparities” study of two years ago blamed the justice system — not crime — for society’s ills.
Blame the game, not the players
At issue is $76 million in next year’s budget to:
- Add 4½ floors to the existing Public Safety Building downtown
- Close the 6th and 7th-floor antiquated jail cells in the City County Building.
- Add various housing units, including medical and mental health, as well as program / activities areas.
- Consolidate the decrepit Ferris work-release center into the new jail.
- Reduce capacity by 91 beds, a 9% reduction.
Remarkably, the “Derail the Jail” crowd blames police and the legal system for crime. Monica Adams of Freedom Inc. explains how perpetrators are really victims:
Previous attempts in the 1990s to round up Black criminals simply resulted in gross mass incarceration, from which our communities have never recovered. In Madison, we still see the effects in arrest and jail racial disparities. … Gang violence is brought on by fighting because you don’t have enough. If you want to stop that violence, you’ve gotta stop people from not having enough.
Gangs do their bangin’ because “they don’t have enough”!!! No advice on studying in school, refraining from drugs, eating right, respecting women, taking a part-time job. Just blame someone else.
In “What Criminologists Don’t Say, and Why,” its two authors, university academics, debunk the Race Card.
“In the eyes of many criminologists, racism has to be the cause of these disparities because recognizing the truth about the huge racial imbalance in crime is politically intolerable.”
The theory is that “incarceration took minority men out of their neighborhoods, stripped them of voting rights, destabilized families, and sapped already-paltry economic resources from struggling communities.” Writing for the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, they explode that theory for the canard that it is:
Such claims could seem plausible only if one believes — contrary to evidence and common sense — that career criminals contribute positively to their neighborhoods, enjoy stable and functional families, vote, and work. What they did, in reality, was to prey on their neighbors.
One could posit that had Tony Terrell Robinson Jr. been incarcerated for his felonious armed robbery, he might have received the treatment for his chronic drug abuse and anger issues and that he would be alive today.
The mice played while the cat was away
The betting line is that the Dane County Board will approve the $76 million for next year’s capital budget. But the new and better jail was shaped as much by Progressive Dane and Black Lives Matter thinking as by modern penology.
The taproot can be found in the Dane County Board’s big bad racism in law enforcement study of September 2015. Listen to the echoes of the Ferguson myth in this excerpt:
Decades of jail growth have produced collateral consequences — in lost wages, worsening physical and mental health, loss of jobs, loss of housing, and overall destabilization of individuals and families. As we review the disproportionality of those admitted to jail, the consequences for people of color, and marginalized communities, is dire.
(“Admitted to jail”? Is that like being admitted to Northwestern?)
The study bought into the “racial disparities” and “implicit bias” nostrums. The report recommends:
[Using] a racial equity lens to review policies and practices at the front end of the justice continuum in all law enforcement agencies in Dane County to reduce arrests and therefore the number of people coming into the justice system, especially when applying crime intervention strategies.
In other words, don’t judge the deed, judge the race. If such reverse-racist prattle sounds like Black Lives Matter, it should. Look the names chosen for the study team: people like:
- A scofflaw named Eric Upchurch of Young, Gifted and Black, the local Black Lives Matter franchise
- former Supv. Leland Pan, who opened the courthouse to occupiers during Act 10 (the police report here) and this report.
- campus free speech opponent Savion Castro (“Wisconsin has its own history of siding with white supremacy”)
- liberal churchwoman Linda Ketchum
- Progressive Dane’s Dorothy Krause
- UW sociologist Pamela Oliver — who counts the number of minorities jailed but not the number of offenses committed.
Not one police officer or prosecutor.
The study groups listened to Young, Gifted and Black, Justified Anger, the anti-incarceration group MOSES (Madison Organizing for Strength, Equality and Solidarity). If they heard from a neighborhood watch group, a police department, a retail business, an employer, or a conservative/moderate organization, it went unrecorded.
Blaska’s Bottom Line — What should a good conservative do? Frankly, this train is probably too far down the track. I support the treatment aspect but I am damning the lack of capacity. Contact your county supervisor and/or show for the 7 p.m. public hearing Wednesday, October 18, at the CCB.