Saturday, June 10, 2017

Gov. Abbott mistakes incarceration smell for "freedom"

Governor Greg Abbott made a speech in Bell County recently declaring that, as one drove north out of Austin, one could notice a different smell, which he declared was the smell of "freedom."

Let's interrogate this for a moment: In 2014, Bell County had 30.3 prison admissions per 10,000 residents, compared to 21.1 in Travis County. (Source.) One county north, McLennan County had a incarceration rate of 48.1 prison admissions per 10,000 that year, more than double Travis County's rate. Going one county further north up IH-35 to Hill County, we get to an incarceration rate of 71.2 per 10,000 people.

So seemingly there's less freedom - in terms of higher percentages of the public being incarcerated - not more, as one heads north from the Austin metro area.

Unless we're defining "freedom" in essentially Orwellian terms to mean the opposite of the dictionary definition (which includes "the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved"), what Gov. Abbott was smelling clearly wasn't "freedom."

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Those stats are somewhat surprising since Bell County only accepts "win" cases and looks to dismiss all other cases where the cases are not clear cut and obvious wins to add to their 99% conviction rate. Crime in Bell County is high for several reasons with Ft Hood being a magnet and the DAs inaction or refusals on lower level crimes which over time escalates into violent crimes. Basically 40yrs of the same DA's mentality of seeking a generally easy win over all else to preserve his prestigious conviction percentage.

Anonymous said...

A free society doesn't happen when individuals do whatever they want, it happens when everyone does what is right.

Anonymous said...

Freedom in a democratic society carries with it many responsibilities--not the least of which is necessity that we abide by certain societal limits and mores that we necessarily place upon ourselves. Freedom does not give you the ability to help yourself to what is mine, or to act in such a way as to place me or my family in danger. For that reason, your effort to correlate an incarceration rate to freedom is not well founded.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 8:30. Please let us have the benefit of your thoughts about what Gov. Abbott meant by freedom, and why the "smell" of freedom is not as pronounced in Travis County as it is in the counties to the north.

And while you are at it, let us know what we should correlate to freedom if not an incarceration rate.

Thank you.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

So, 8:30, you're saying people in Bell, McLennan and Hill Counties are less responsible than Austinites? Huh. So they're more free but also more irresponsible and crime prone? Interesting.

Anonymous said...

Our Judicial System is NOT what our forefathers had intended. Where is the Jury of our peers? Does the Jury know their Rights?

Anonymous said...

After 28 years in Adult Probation most defendants chose not to have a jury of their peer, because that jury expects those who break the law to be locked up. Even when there is a jury trial, very seldom does the defense attorney allow his client to let the jury sentence him. The general public, not those who respond to polls, think that if you break the law you go to jail.

Anonymous said...

You can be any where in public and the whispers are always
"YOU shouldn't have" no matter what it is. The public presumes guilt before the facts are even know. That is why you see LE with a free reign on how they conduct themselves.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"The general public, not those who respond to polls" ... Except, 4:26, it's the general public that responds to polls. To pretend otherwise is anti-intellectual garbage. Feel free to express your own views, but don't pretend you know better what the public thinks than pollsters who've actually asked them, by the hundreds.


wolf sittler said...

Right on Crime did a poll several years ago that clearly showed the majority of Texans favor alternatives to incarceration. Unfortunately, elected officials, once again responded to such evidence with the usual incremental change. That guarantees more victims, more wasted lices and higher costs for taxpayers. What we need freedom from is antiquated and failed ways to deal with lawbreakers. We can, and are obligated to do better. It is clear that hew approaches and cost effective ways to deal with crime and criminals will not emanate from the folks at the capitol. It's time for Texas to more closely accomplish the mission of TDCJ....." to provide public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, reintegrate offenders into society and assist victims of crime". Anything that does not contribute to that objective needs re-visiting.

Rachel Crutcher said...

Who determines right from wrong? Because imo jailing children who were born in some war torn country, or born into poverty is WRONG but our good old Gov. has no problem with it.

Anonymous said...

Oh yea, I forgot how well the pollsters have done telling the general public who they are going to elect to office. Polls always reflect correct information.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@6:26 - Who gets into office is decided by a margin of a few percentage points - often within the margin of error. But polls showing general views on policies can give a better sense of what the public thinks compared to anonymous blog commenters pretending to speak for the silent majority. The pollsters actually call other people and ask them what they think. You're just bloviating.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind there are many different "sub-states" or "mini-states" in Texas.
Do these polls take a true random sampling from all over the state of Texas? Or do they capture public expectations in say Harris county (over 25 percent of states population) and one or two more lager jurisdictions in order to say "this is what the majority of people in Texas want?
This is relevant because public expectations can be extremely different from one district or county to another. If a prosecutor and or judge is elected in a jurisdiction where prison is the desired outcome for criminal acts we should not be surprised to see higher incarceration rates. It very well may be a better approach to work on changing offender behavior but there are many jurisdictions where the public doesn't give a damn and if you intended to get elected you listen to your constituents, whether their approach is the better alternative or not.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No, 9:11, no pollster takes data from Harris and two other countiesand calls it a statewide poll. That's either a lie or an example of profound ignorance. You just don't want to believe data that contradicts your preconceptions.

Anonymous said...

While prosecutorial approach/judicial mandates are significant, there are so many other factors that can affect the percentages. For instance, Travis county is below the state average in the areas of both unemployment and poverty. Bell has a higher than average unemployment rate for the last 5 years and is at the state poverty average. While McLennan is just below the state for average in unemployment, it is 4 full points above the state poverty average. Hill county has a higher than average unemployment rate and a poverty average 2 points higher than the state. Just are just examples of some of the underlying issues....

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The other underlying issue, 2:32, is measurably less freedom for residents of Bell, McLennan, and Hill Counties. IMO most of the differences relate to prosecutorial discretion more than the issues you cite - certainly that's what explains the difference between Bell and McLennan, e.g.. But at least now we're debating the topic of the post instead of denying reality!

Mark M. said...

FYI for anon who apparently just realized that polls must be conducted properly if they are to be valid and reliable. Political scientists are required to study and learn about proper pollling practices in obtaining a degree. It's one of the most important functions of the profession. The absolute requirement for a true random sample is a bedrock foundation. More importantly, they learn that the results of a valid and reliable poll is generally repeatable; in other words, a poll likewise conducted according to the best practices of the profession should should generate a similar result if conducted In neartime proximity to the prior poll.

Anonymous said...

I've seen some of the Right on Crime poll questions. As far as I'm concerned, their polling is Exhibit A on how you can manipulate polling results by the language you use in the questions. How this liberal/libertarian outfit obtained any level of credibility at the lege is beyond me.