Oregon has a problem: It has too many people in prison and it’s costing a bundle. It also has problems with traffic, parking, crime and ever-more expensive services. A sensible person would conclude that all these problems can be traced to a growing population. An educated person would know that our population is growing almost entirely because of immigration. Put an end to immigration, send the illegals back and most of those problems will be vastly diminished.
But Governor Kitzhaber sees things differently. In his view, a good way to save money is to stabilize the prison population. A good idea if executed properly, but remember, we’re talking about a politician here. According to the Portland Mercury (famous for it’s murky reasoning):
The budget also names reducing the overrepresentation of people of color in prison—non-whites make up 11.4 percent of Oregon’s population, but 27 percent of our inmates.
One needn’t be a genius to realize that any stated goal of reducing the numbers of “people of color” in prison must necessarily involve unleashing criminals onto the streets to prey upon the innocent. When prison authorities are given guidelines to reduce the number of non-white prisoners, and they have a choice of releasing a white pothead or a black burglar, what decision would make the most sense to them if they want to keep their jobs?
The Mercury has a sidebar:
FACES OF MATH Oregon Incarceration by the NumbersPrison population in 1982: 3,120
Prison population in 2012: 14,232
Two-year state public safety budget: $5.1 billion
Inmates reporting mental health needs: 70%
Inmates dealing with substance abuse issues: 72%
Oregonians who identify as African American: 2%
Oregon inmates who identify as African American: 9.3%
In Portland, blacks make up 6.3% of the population and every time I go downtown I see how they behave. The women seem to be okay but a large proportion of the men come across as thuggish. They dress ghetto, they listen to rap, they walk with a simian gait and they speak ebonics. I suppose it’s possible that a person who never leaves his home, or has any interaction with the real world, might believe that such a group is no more crime-prone than the general population. Does this describe Kitzhaber or the editors/writers of the Mercury? From my observations, it’s not at all far-fetched that blacks commit almost 5 times their share of the crime in Oregon.
When somebody is victimized by one of those released black criminals, will he (or his family) be able to hold Kitzhaber responsible? Apparently Sarah Mirk, who wrote the Mercury story in question, thinks Kitzhaber’s plan is a good one. I wonder if she’d ever make the connection when, some day, she or somebody she loves pays the price for this policy. I wouldn’t bet on it.