Thursday, September 6, 2007

What to do with Persistent Petty Offenders? Kill them Suggests the SF Chronicle

In one of the most appalling pieces of crime journalism I've seen in some time, this morning's SF Chronicle leads with a story practically celebrating the murder on the streets of Allen Broussard, a drug addicted petty offender who burglarized many cars in the City's hard pressed Hunter's Point neighborhood. The story, by Jaxon Van Derbeken, suggests that the system failed to either "punish" or "rehabilitate" Broussard despite many arrests because of reluctance to send him to state prison (rather than short trips through the county jail). Little disguised is the implication that the most effective way to rid ourselves of the petty criminals in this world is to kill them.

Derbeken's "research" consists primarily of gathering quotes from SF Prosecutors who apparently feel that our judges are too lenient in sending persistent offenders to prison. But with some 180,000 inmates already in a system that has been declared in a state of emergency due to unconstitutional overcrowding and mismanagement, radically increasing the flow of petty offenders can hardly be considered a solution to anything.

Here's another idea. Why don't we end the 40 year long and utterly counter productive war on drugs and replace it with a robustly regulated and taxed legal market. We would still have homeless drop outs like Allen Broussard, but they would have less need to steal and more chance of getting drug treatment.

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