When New York Emptied ‘Excess’ Jail Cells

For some time, many libertarians have joined reformers on the left in pushing various decarceration measures, out of conviction that too many people are behind bars in America and that this is both unjust and excessively expensive. In the last five years or so, this cause has led to changed policies in major jurisdictions, including New York State. A combination of pandemic-related releases and legislated shifts in procedures has appreciably held down the count in the state’s prisons and jails. Correspondingly, rates of many street crimes have begun to take off. Conservatives who have mostly resisted these changes see a direct connection, and Republican candidates are blaming majority Democrats for bringing on a wave of victimization. The Manhattan Institute think tank has long hewed to a law-and-order line and could be expected to back this criticism. But it should be said that its fellow Charles Fain Lehman has taken a careful and measured approach to the issue, as shown in this new paper on the parole system’s part in the recent policy drama. His co-authored analysis of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s “Less Is More” revisions (a perfect titling of the reformist spirit) cannot hope directly to link legislation to crime, except anecdotally, but it does pose rather clear circumstantial evidence. Supporters of individual rights against state lockup powers cannot ignore the potential, and probably real, consequences of helping the many–that it has released the relative few to wreak havoc on us all. Lehman suggests changes to reach a better result.

Published by timwferguson

Longtime writer-editor, focusing on topics of business and policy, global and local.

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