As my faithful readers know, it's my habit to run comments here that are delayed or left to wither on TAC's comment threads. This is different. They actually deleted it. I've never seen this before. I assume that only I and whomever moderates comment at TAC can see what I wrote. So why he/she felt the need to expunge my comment is a puzzle. Perhaps it was Gracy's turn to moderate comments?
A day or so ago I wrote a comment to The American Conservative's Gracy Olmstead's prison reform booster piece. It was entitled Building Conservative Prison Reform. She began it with the usual happy talk about how all points of the political compass feel good about getting behind the cause of deinstitutionalizing non-violent offenders, etc. She then lost track of her main theme, focusing on the damage solitary confinement has on inmates psyches. Her case was not well received by the five commenters.
My comment was to the effect that:
1. Her "conservative" allies in this cause were largely stalking horses for the heavily republican private prison industry. I predicted that a large share of deinstitutionalized criminals would find their way into private, for-profit halfway houses and drug treatment centers, etc. managed by these same characters. I mentioned that one might just appear in her neighborhood.
2. Democrats see released inmates as a source of voters and manpower in their minority dominated coalition.
3. She failed to see that the inmate population overlaps the largely minority "Criminal underclass." (my wording)
4. Non-violent offenders include Bernie Madoff and the like, who do massive damage to society. Swindlers wreak real havoc, particularly on the elderly and the trusting.
5. Long term solitary confinement indeed causes mental stress and deterioration. Perhaps all incarceration does. Perhaps solitary confinement is over-used. Still, the inmates placed in solitary are there for acting out against other inmates and staff. There is a certain circularity to Olmstead's argument that it is cruel to remove inmates from social interaction, if the inmates are pathologically anti-social. If their idea of social interaction is to attack people, there are just so many alternatives available.
Finally, I suggested that the Federal Criminal Code and the behavior of Federal prosecutors needed to be reformed. We might not have a bulging federal prison population if it were not possible for federal prosecutors to secure a conviction against any one of us for violating any one of countless laws and reg's, the existence of which most people have no knowledge.
My last government posting before retirement was as the inspector of criminal halfway houses for the entire State of New Jersey. That's Eight years Gracy.