The latest brainstorm from Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is the abolition of prisons.
Citing the case of a black man given ten days for missing jury duty, Ocasio-Cortez said (via the Free Beacon):
"Mass incarceration is our American reality," she said in a tweet. "It is a system whose logic evolved from the same lineage as Jim Crow, American apartheid, & slavery. To end it, we have to change. That means we need to have a real conversation about decarceration & prison abolition in this country."
"A cage is a cage is a cage. And humans don’t belong in them," she added in a follow-up tweet.
This is pure AOC.
She never advocates a sensible remedy to the case cited. Of course, it is unfair to give somebody ten days in jail for missing jury duty. But there are remedies that fall short of abolishing the prison system.
AOC, as usual, demonstrates that she is not a student of history. The prison system didn’t evolve from Jim Crow. Prisons, it is generally conceded, developed in London and the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Benthem (1748-1832) might be dubbed the “father of the modern prison.”
But the major fault is that Ocasio-Cortez seems not to know that, while there are miscarriages of justice, the reason people are put in prisons is that they have done something wrong.
Abolishing prisons would release lawbreakers, many violent, who have not paid their debt to society into society.
In AOC’s view, these are not people who have done something wrong but rather oppressed people.
The Free Beacon observes:
"Prison abolition" is a proposal popular with the international far-left, which calls for "deep, structural reforms to how we handle and even think about crime in our country." In general, abolitionists favor abolishing prisons and other systems of punishment, replacing them with "restorative justice" and social welfare programs meant to target the "root causes" of crime.
It should be noted that in subsequent tweets, Ocasio-Cortez amended her stance, saying her aim is to reduce prison population, not to abolish prisons. She doesn’t believe most people in prison are there fairly:
"First of all, many people in jailed or in prison don’t belong there at all," she wrote. "Whether it’s punitive sentencing for marijuana possession or jailing people for their poverty & letting the rich free through systems like cash bail, we wrongly incarcerate far, far too many people."
The Free Beacon counters:
Less than 4 percent of state-level offenders, and less than 1 percent of federal offenders, are incarcerated for any kind of drug possession, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The share incarcerated for marijuana offenses is unknown, but almost certainly a fraction of this fraction.
In fact, 55 percent of all state-level offenders—who represent 88 percent of all incarcerees—are in prison for violent offenses. Roughly half of federal offenders are incarcerated for drug offenses, but "more than 99 percent" were drug traffickers, according to the BJS.
We always hope that people who go to prison will be able to turn their lives around, but it is a dangerous folly to assume that they are in prison because of society’s ills and not their own actions.