Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Breakdown of Order Has Begun

Why are the jail cells empty? Because the Detroit Police Department just isn't arresting people.

Their "statistics" show a decrease in crime, even though there has been a 24% increase in homicides. "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics." I think that statement applies here.
East-sider Joyce Betty, 56, isn't buying it.

Last February, a young assailant snatched Betty's purse, which contained $300 in cash, while she pumped gas at a Mack Avenue filling station. Surveillance cameras captured the crime on videotape, but police never responded.
Decades of high taxes, tough union rules, have pushed business out of Michigan. While a lot of people love to blame NAFTA, more jobs moved to Texas (and other low-tax states) than moved to Mexico.

It isn't exactly the fault of the Police Department. Hundreds of law enforcement types have left the Detroit force in recent years. They are certainly understaffed. They are probably struggling financially. I have no clue as to the level of support they get from the city on the political front.

So while other areas are trying to figure out how to deal with prison overcrowding, (and wholesale emptying of prisons isn't much different) and clogged courts, Wayne County and Detroit have empty cells.
The seventh floor of the Baird Detention Facility, normally home to 128 newly arrested prisoners, is vacant. So are the ninth floor and half of the 12th floor. Another 128 beds at the Dickerson Detention Facility in Hamtramck are also closed. That adds up to more than 400 empty beds in Wayne County jails that, up to about a year ago, were filled with roughly 2,500 prisoners.

The main explanation is simple, according to the county's top two law enforcement officials: Detroit police are making fewer arrests, a dereliction so obvious it has led some Detroiters to conclude there's no point in even calling the cops.
Whenever I think about the state of things in Detroit - it has been MANY years since I was actually there - I am reminded about Kipling's poem "The Gods of the Copybook Headings," and his take on the idea that you could get something for nothing.
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."
It is worth reading the whole thing.

It isn't particularly optimistic, given where we find ourselves today. Here is how Kipling ended it.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

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