Investing in Public Safety
Of late, Police Chief Jerry Dyer seems to write almost as often for the Fresno Bee as any of their regular writers. Today, he reminds us,
Public safety is an investment, not a cost. (Jerry Dyer, “Invest in our public safety” (December 8, 2009) The Fresno Bee, p.B5, below the fold.)
If nothing else, the article shows that Jerry Dyer has mastered The Art of Orwellian Logic.
To be fair to Orwell, we really shouldn’t call this “Orwellian Logic.” If anything, Orwell railed against this sort of “doublethink.” His work aimed to point out the “form of trained, willful intellectual blindness to contradictions in a belief system.” (“Doublethink” (November 17, 2009) Wikipedia (last visited December 8, 2009).)
Not that I’m accusing Dyer of having a shred of the necessary intelligence necessary to be intellectual.
Orwell explains that the Party could not protect its iron power without degrading its people with constant propaganda. Yet, knowledge of this brutal deception, even within the Inner Party itself, could lead to disgusted collapse of the State from within. For this reason, the government uses a complex system of reality control. Though Nineteen Eighty-Four is most famous for the Party’s pervasive surveillance of everyday life, reality control means that the population of Oceania — all of it, including the ruling élite — could be controlled and manipulated merely through the alteration of everyday thought and language. (“Doublethink” (November 17, 2009) Wikipedia (last visited December 8, 2009).)
Thus, Dyer no doubt he actually believes what he says. Otherwise, the burdens of hypocrisy would crush him.
Of late, the use of fear by the ruling élite to stop the rest of us from shaking off the complex system of reality control to see what really needs to be done and to re-direct our energies towards doing it has become commonplace.
Dyer is, at least in my opinion, less artful at that. I hope.
Dyer’s article starts off with a discussion of Maurice Clemmons “ongoing criminal behavior and propensity for violence,” noting that it “should have been sufficient grounds for his continued incarceration.” Maurice Clemmons, for those who don’t already know, is the guy suspected of gunning down four police officers in the State of Washington.
(Clemmons, of course, is now dead. What? You think you can shoot that many cops and get away with mere apprehension and a trial?)
Dyer uses Clemmons to fan the flames of fear.
California prisons are filled with Clemmons types. Many are suffering from mental illness and drug addiction and refuse to be rehabilitated.
Therefore, Dyer says,
The safety of our communities must be our highest priority and the foundation for government. Police officers, prosecutors, jails and prisons cannot be seen as a burden or cost to government. They are investments.
That’s right. Investments.
You probably thought that funding hospitals for mentally ill people and drug rehabilitations programs for drug-addicted individuals was an investment. You might even have thought that making sure to provide solid funding for education — to raise the educational and employability levels of people so they might not have as many problems leading them to commit crimes — was an investment.
Our future is police officers, prosecutors, jails and prisons. Therefore, providing funding for police officers, prosecutors, jails and prisons is an investment. Everything else is a distraction.
Dyer’s argument, though, is the real distraction. Dyer himself segues from fearmongering over “Clemmons types” to an argument that the release of “nonviolent-nonserious” criminals California is working towards will result in more murders. Keeping everyone in prison is the only way to “invest” in our future!
But we aren’t “investing” when we fund ways to lock up more people. We’re certainly not “investing” when the degree to which we fund ways to lock up more people depletes our pocketbooks so we can no longer afford to educate our children. And make no mistake about that: right now, California is shutting down education in favor of continuing to fund police, jails and prisons.
And why is that? Because the alternative is to release some people from the jails and prisons and not have a police officer around to tail their asses until we can lock them up again. Nevermind that California is doing everything possible to ensure that “Clemmons types” do not get released.
Moreover, the majority of people in our prisons are not “Clemmons types.” They’re people who could be helped by medical treatment, education and the other services our government is now busily de-funding so we can maintain our police, jails and prisons.
Locking up more and more people leads only to the need for more police, more jails and more prisons. It does not lead to “public safety.” It more readily leads to public depletion.
This is true because as long as we continue to be mislead by “Dyer types” and fail to fund education and health care, among other things, there will always be more and more “Clemmons types” to lock up.
Public safety is an investment. But the increasing cost of more police, more prisons and more jails is keeping us from investing in it.