In Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration, Rachel Barkow, vice dean and Segal Family Professor of Regulatory Law and Policy, argues that criminal justice reform guided by data and expertise—rather than by fear-based politics—would both cut mass incarceration and reduce crime.
Her book, which has earned praise in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and Publisher’s Weekly, was the subject of the March 6 Latham & Watkins Forum. Anne Milgram ‘96, professor of practice and distinguished scholar in residence, moderated a conversation between Barkow and Shaun King, columnist for The Intercept and The Appeal and co-founder of the Real Justice Political Action Committee and CEO of The North Star.
Shaun King: “The criminal justice system is so amazingly complicated, and it’s so stacked against people who are incarcerated or brutalized by the system that change would have to be seen from a very different perspective. And that’s what I love about Rachel’s book is it acknowledges that this system is far more complex than we often want to admit it really is. And our solutions to changing it have to be equally as sophisticated as the problem itself.”
Rachel Barkow: “One of the weird perversities of American criminal justice policy-making is we pursue all these policies that people claim are tough, but tough on what? They’re tough on communities. They’re tough on people. They’re not actually tough on crime. They’re terrible; they don’t work to reduce crime. And so we get the worst of all worlds. And so the hope would be to shift to a model where we actually look for the pathways that would get us better outcomes on all those metrics.”
Rachel Barkow: “I don’t see this as left, right—people who want safety versus people who want to sit in a circle and be nice to each other…. There’s a common goal that really should unite people, which is that we are getting the worst of all worlds and we could do better.”
Watch the full video of the discussion (1 h 8 min):
Posted April 16, 2019