The Corner


I’m with Ramesh on this one. But I’ll let him fight his own fight. Still, a word or two on rehabilitation. I’m all in favor of it — when it is possible and possible at an affordable price. Surely, spending a billion dollars to turn around one criminal is too much, even if it would work. No one’s proposing spending a billion dollars per prisoner, but the point remains the same. Limited resources factor into the debate. Which is one reason I always take outrage that white collar criminals get softer treatment at so-called country clubs with a grain of salt. White collar criminals are not only less of a danger but they are more rehabilitatable than, say, hardened rapists.

More importantly and speaking of rapists, prison is the bad people place. Bad people go there because they are bad. This isn’t very complicated. The dichotomy of rehabilitation versus punishment leaves out one of the most important benefits of incarceration: the more bad people there are in prison, the fewer bad people there are on the streets. As my old boss, Ben Wattenberg used to say, a thug in prison can’t shoot your sister. Studies support this. We now know that most crime is committed by a small minority of bad people. Their ranks do not refill automatically once emptied, contrary to the logic of many liberals and New York Times reporters. Just as career accountants are people who spend their lives committing accountancy, career criminals are people who spend their lives committing crimes.

In a sense both punishment and rehabilitation are often — but not always — just short of luxuries designed to satisfy the moral expectations of one constituency or another. Some of us like the idea of punishment. Others like rehab. Most of us like a mix of the two — and both approaches have serious public policy benefits for deterring crime. But keeping the bad people away from the good people is often more important than either.

At least that’s my two cents.

Most Popular


Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More
Politics & Policy

On Painting Air Force One

And so it has come to this. Two oil tankers were just attacked in the Gulf of Oman, presumably by Iran. The United States and China are facing off in a confrontation that is about far more than trade. The southern border remains anarchic and uncontrolled. And Congress is asking: “Can I get the icon in ... Read More

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election, and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and ... Read More