Pubdate: Thu, 08 Feb 2001
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company
Contact:  1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071
Author: James Q. Wilson


Vincent Schiraldi mistakenly tries to distance me from my friend and former 
student, John DiIulio. We both predicted rising juvenile crime rates in the 
late 1990s. It was a reasonable guess, considering the increasing number of 
young boys. But we underestimated the effect of high rates of imprisonment 
and the decline in crack abuse.

Mr. Schiraldi, who for many years has argued against punishing any but the 
most serious offenders, should be pleased to learn that the policies Mr. 
DiIulio and I have endorsed helped save the country from more crime than 
the age distribution of the population would have predicted.

Evidence can be found in the soaring rates of crime in nations such as 
England and Sweden, which have followed the advice of the Justice Policy 
Institute to "reduce society's reliance on the use of incarceration." 
Reduce it in favor of what?

But Mr. DiIulio and I agree with Mr. Schiraldi on one matter: We needlessly 
imprison too many people simply on charges of possessing drugs. If he were 
interested in exploring ideas instead of attacking people, Mr. Schiraldi 
might have taken this up with Mr. DiIulio. But for an "activist," an 
ill-tempered essay is better than a search for solutions.

James Q. Wilson, Los Angeles
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