Crime, Incarceration, and ‘Reform’ Prosecutors: Debate Continued
Editor’s note from Glenn Greenwald:
We are pleased to present the second part of our debate on crime and prosecutorial policy between Leighton Woodhouse and Ben Spielberg. The first installation — which contained an original statement from Ben, a rebuttal from Leighton, and then a further rebuttal from Ben — was very well-received by our readership here and provoked a spirited, enlightening and substantive debate in the comment section among subscribers: exactly what we believe good journalism should foster. This second installment — which begins with Leighton’s rebuttal, is followed by Ben’s response, and then concludes with Leighton’s response to that — is, in my view, even better, as it further isolates and highlights the divergent underlying assumptions that drive these vital public policy debates about crime and punishment around the country. I hope the readership here finds this exchange at least as nutritious and thought-provoking as the first installment.
(On a personal note: I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude for the outpouring of support, empathy and understanding from readers here in response to my August 16 note about the health crisis our family is enduring and how it is preventing me, for now, from writing here the way I would like to do. My husband remains in ICU and officially in critically condition, but has shown recent stability and even some improvements that give us more hope than ever for his full recovery. I hope and expect to be back shortly. And we will also very soon — this month, perhaps this week — unveil the new project I have been alluding to that I am certain will excite everyone here and dramatically expand the reach and impact of the journalism we do. In the meantime, thank you so much to everyone who reached out by email, in the comment section, and otherwise with such compassion and human decency. It really means a lot. Enjoy the debate.)
By Leighton Woodhouse
I have to admit I’m finding it to be a bit of a challenge to respond to most of the points in your rebuttal, in some cases because the relevance is lost on me and in others because they’re wholly unsupported by the facts.
But let me try to characterize each of your points in turn:
You begin by citing statistics about rates of economic inequality and high housing costs in San Francisco. I’m unclear on the purpose of this laundry list, as your disapproval of these indices is not a point of disagreement between us, nor do they represent anything over which the District Attorney has any control. I agree that San Francisco is an expensive city with a vast wealth gap, and that that’s regrettable. There’s no argument between us here.
You go on to claim that homelessness is the inevitable outcome of these economic conditions, stating blithely that it is not an addiction problem. I don’t understand what you base these claims on.
Judging from the various articles and blog posts you link to, the argument that homelessness is caused by the high cost of housing and not by
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