The left has been on an “abolish private prisons” kick for a while now, and some of them even make some decent points. There is, after all, a potential conflict-of-interest at play when a company’s bottom line depends on actually being able to fill their prison to capacity. Does this conflict result in kickbacks to judges and prosecutors? We don’t doubt that this veers us into conspiracy theory territory for the most part, but you can at least understand where someone is coming from when they take up the cause of getting rid of private prisons. It may or may not be a good idea, but it’s not an INSANE one.
Leave it to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to take us to that step.
“Mass incarceration is our American reality. It is a system whose logic evolved from the same lineage as Jim Crow, American apartheid, & slavery,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted this weekend. “To end it, we have to change. That means we need to have a real conversation about decarceration & prison abolition in this country.”
In a subsequent tweet, she wrote: “A cage is a cage is a cage. And humans don’t belong in them.”
Well, we’d say there are many criminals for whom a cage is actually too good, and there are others for whom it is just right. No, a human being living their life and not committing crimes and not victimizing others does not belong in a cage, but who argues otherwise? Did Charles Manson really not belong in a cage? Is that not an appropriate setting for Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?
But Ocasio-Cortez is never wrong about anything, so she was back later in the day to defend her radical proposal.
“I know the term ‘prison abolition’ is breaking some people’s brains. The right is already freaking out,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Yet the US incarcerates more than anywhere in the world. We have more than enough room to close many of our prisons and explore just alternatives to incarceration.”
Closing some prisons is not an argument for prison abolition. The fact that the U.S. incarcerates more than any other country is irrelevant to the topic.
“First of all, many people in jailed or in prison don’t belong there at all,” she continued. “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.”
None of these arguments are relevant to the point.
“Secondly, our prison & jail system is so large bc we use them as de facto mental hospitals, homeless shelters, & detox centers instead of *actually* investing in mental health, housing, edu, & rehab. If we invested meaningfully, what do you think would happen to crime?” she wrote.
Still somewhat off-topic.
“Lastly, people tend to say ‘what do you do with all the violent people?’ as a defense for incarcerating millions. Our lawmaking process means we come to solutions together, & either way we should work to an end where our prison system is dramatically smaller than it is today,” she concluded.
Only in this last remark does she come anywhere close to defending her actual remark, which is that human beings don’t belong in cages and that we should abolish prisons. Her answer: “We come to solutions together.” Which is another way of saying, Yeah, I dunno, you figure it out.
Please, good people of New York’s 14th congressional district, don’t do this to us again.