Why I despair sometimes of improving things.

This is Joseph.

This is German Lopez:

Part of the issue here is that "criminal justice reform" is a huge area, ranging from "defund the police" to using research to improve police effectiveness (e.g., smart version of foot patrol). Painting it all as radical (in the spirit of defund the police) disguises some really sharp critiques. How would the foot patrol reform advocates react to a spike in crime? Hiring more officers and deploying them more efficiently to reduce crime doesn't seem to be an obviously dumb or ineffective answer. 

Do we need reform? Well, the George Floyd killing suggests that there is at least some possibility for improving police performance when dealing with minorities and suspects. When you look at the level of public outrage that it created, it is hard to argue that a status quo that enabled that to happen doesn't have at least some room for reforming police procedure. There were four officers present; the other three could have been trained to intervene in a way that George Floyd survived and was able to have his case heard by a court. 

Or what about more modest reforms? For example, should overtime count as part of one's peak earnings for determining pension benefits? There are a lot of professions (e.g., teachers, professors) where this is not the case and a lot of money could be saved by not having officers in their last few years working massive amounts of overtime. Overtime is (Read more...)