Home » Featured » Recent Articles:

We’ve Got To Be Smart On Crime, Not Hard Or Soft

September 25, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on We’ve Got To Be Smart On Crime, Not Hard Or Soft

The phrase “soft on crime” has a long history of being used to encourage the public to support the “lock them up and throw away the key” view of criminal justice…more accurately injustice.

The 1990s panic over youth and gang violence had us characterizing juvenile offenders as “superpredators” who were beyond redemption. The popular slogan “adult time for adult crime” echoed a “get-tough” approach for punishing kids. Recently, however, the U.S. Supreme Court abolished mandatory life sentences for minors. And policy makers have recommitted to the original philosophy of juvenile justice, prioritizing the needs of young offenders rather than what punishment is deserved.

The 1990s also saw the rapid spread of a penal policy patterned after a well-known baseball refrain — “three strikes and you’re out.” This metaphorical approach to sentencing felons helped nearly bankrupt many states, especially California where “three strikes” was most enthusiastically adopted.

Thousands upon thousands of Americans were taken prisoner in the “War on Drugs” declared in the early 1970s when crime rates soared. Having surrendered this misguided campaign, the nation is now looking more toward treatment for addicts than punishment, and releasing nonviolent drug offenders from prison. (USA Today)

Fearing being labeled as “soft on crime” conservative Democrats, aka neoliberals, fully embraced tough on crime policies. This allowed them to work with Republicans to pass bipartisan legislation.

Cover of ‘Time’ magazine, February 7, 1994

This led to innocent men, mostly African-Americans, being incarcerated. Mass incarceration is now a major problem. Families were torn apart. Persons who served their time returned home to find they couldn’t get a job or housing. Recidivism was inevitable.

We screwed up…for decades.

St. Louis is a Democratic city, but mostly of old school neoliberal conservative Democrats. So the fact a majority of respondents to the non-scientific Sunday Poll think think our first black prosecutors has led to a sudden spike in violent crime shouldn’t surprise me.

Q: Agree or disagree: Violent crime is increasing in St. Louis City & County because our new prosecutors are soft on crime.

  • Strongly agree: 14 [48.28%]
  • Agree: 4 [13.79%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [6.9%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Disagree: 5 [17.24%]
  • Strongly disagree: 4 [13.79%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Long-standing policies, not new prosecutors, are responsible for our violence. Smart solutions don’t look like the old, but now problematic, one. St. Louisans must learn to embrace change if we’re ever going to make progress in addressing our problems.

— Steve Patterson

 

Climate Change May Mean A Bleak Future For Today’s St. Louis Kids

September 23, 2019 Environment, Featured Comments Off on Climate Change May Mean A Bleak Future For Today’s St. Louis Kids

On Friday some in St. Louis took part in the global climate strike:

Hundreds of people took to the streets of downtown St. Louis to protest the failure of politicians and special interests to act despite mounting evidence of climate change’s accelerating and potentially devastating effect on life on the planet.    

The St. Louis demonstration, which started at City Hall, was part of the “Global Climate Strike,” a coordinated effort that drew hundreds of thousands to the streets of major cities worldwide. (Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis Climate Strike demonstrators heading east on Market. Photo by ill Horton Lenhard.

Globally, the day was large.

Millions of young people raised their voices at protests around the world Friday in a massive display meant to demand urgent action on climate change. Scores of students missed school to take part, some joined by teachers and parents.

Some of the first rallies began in Australia, and then spread from Pacific islands to India and Turkey and across Europe, as students kicked off what organizers were calling a Global Climate Strike.

In the U.S., where more than 800 marches were planned, thousands of young people are absent from classrooms so they can carry signs, march and shout slogans calling for a new approach to energy and emissions. (NPR)

This was to call attention to the climate crisis and the UN’s Climate Action Summit, concluding today.

In July I shared my pessimism  — we won’t take action on climate change in time. It’s already happening, but as the 21st century continues conditions will only get worse.

The following is from a recent article looking at how climate change will impact Houston, San Francisco, and St.  Louis over the decades remaining in this century. Below are the paragraphs specific only to St. Louis, Missouri, and Southern Illinois:

2020

This decade, St. Louis is expected to be more than two degrees Fahrenheit warmerthan it was, on average, during the latter half of the 20th century. While locals have endured more sweltering summer days, they have felt the change the most during the cold months. Missouri winters are warming fasterthan summers, springs, and falls.

Warmer air holds more water, which can lead to more severe rainfall. In recent years, rainstorms have pummeled the Midwest and led to widespread flooding across the region. In 2019 in St. Louis, rivers reached near-historic levels, and floodwaters inundated the areaaround the city’s iconic Gateway Arch.

This storm wasn’t a blip on the radar, but rather a sign of what’s to come. As the planet heats up, St. Louis can expect more extreme rainstorms— and more orders to evacuate low-lying neighborhoods.

2030

By 2030, temperatures are expected to have warmed around three degrees Fahrenheit in St. Louis. The kind of rainstorm that currently strikes the Midwest around once every five years will hit around once every three yearsthis decade.

“We’ve seen these record-breaking, devastating floods in the Midwest,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University. “It’s not like they’ve never had floods before, but the floods are just getting a lot worse and a lot more frequent.”

This could mean trouble for local infrastructure. Rivers swell after heavy rains, and the rush of water can weaken bridgesby carrying away sediment from around their foundations. This could be a big problem in Missouri, which is home to hundreds of agingbridges, many of which have been deemed deficient. Climate change could mean even more heavy repair costsfor taxpayers.

2040

In 2040, St. Louis is expected to be four degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it was at the end of the last century. While that may sound like a small number, it means big problems for the city. A small uptick in the average temperature could lead to milder winters, stifling summers and changing rainfall.

St. Louis will tend to see wetter springs and drier summers. That means the region will withstand heavier downpours, but it will also endure long stretches without a drop of rain. Despite the growing peril of major flooding, extended dry spells and rising temperatures will dry out the land. Drought will set in in Missouri, endangering farms.

And just remember — it will never be this cool again.

2050

St. Louis is expected to have heated up by more than five degrees Fahrenheit on average by the middle of the century. Hot weather will dry out soil. Past 2050, the Central Plains, including much of Missouri, can look forward to decades-long drought.

This drought will be especially disastrous for Missouri farmers. Growers will have to take more water out of underground aquifers to feed their crops, drawing down a limited supply of groundwater, often at great cost. This, in turn, could drive up the price of food.

2060

St. Louis is expected hit a six-degrees-Fahrenheit increase in its average temperature this decade. While this might be bad news for humans, it’s good for many insects, who love warm weather. Rising temperatures will bring disease-carrying mosquitoesto St. Louis’s doorstep. Missourians will have to be more vigilant about their health as the bugs could spread tropical viruses like Zika, dengue, and yellow feveraround the warming Midwest.

Climate change will also bring more deer ticks to St. Louis. Because warmer air can hold more water, as temperatures rise, so does humidity — and deer ticks thrive in humid weather. While ticks are little seen in Missouri today, later this century they will fan out across the state, potentially spreading Lyme disease. Those afflicted will endure fever, headache, and fatigue. They may see their joints swell or feel their face droop.

2070

In 2070, St. Louis is projected to be more than seven degrees Fahrenheit hotter than it was at the end of the last century. Before the decade is through, the city is expected to see eight degrees Fahrenheit of warming. Rising temperatures will have utterly transformed the weather in Missouri, making it virtually unrecognizable to current residents. The city will see around 20 fewer daysof frost each year than it does today, as well as around 20 extra dayswith temperatures over 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat will be felt most acutely in neighborhoods short on trees and parks.

Outside the city, severe heat will cripple the growth of corn and soybeans at nearby farms. So will drought, which experts say will be worse than at any time in living memory. The state will endure more consecutive days without rain. When it does rain, however, it will pour. Warmer temperatures will produce more extreme rainfall.

2080

St. Louis is expected to be nearly nine degrees Fahrenheit warmer by 2080. The temperature will have changed so drastically that St. Louis no longer feels like the same city.

Around 2080, St. Louis will start to feellike Prosper, Texas, does today. This new St. Louis will be hotter and drier. Summer weather will go from balmy to sweltering, and the city will see much less rain during the warm months.

It’s not just that St. Louis will feel more like Prosper. It might start to look like it too. Animals that currently live around Prosper could head northward as the climate changes, searching for a new home that feels like their old one. At the same time, the shrubs and grasslands that stretch across north Texas could start to edge their way toward Missouri.

2090

St. Louis is expected to have warmed by almost 10 degrees Fahrenheit, a transformational change in the climate of the city. Rising temperatures could provoke a spike in violent crime— when people are hot, research shows, they tend to feel more aggressive.

By the end of the century, St. Louis will endure around 80 days per year where the heat index is above 100 degrees — compared to just 11 days at the end of the 20th century, according to Kristy Dahl, a climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“It’s really striking because historically those off-the-charts conditions have only occurred in the Sonoran desert region of the U.S., the California-Arizona border,” Dahl said.

In addition to extreme heat, the city will also endure severe drought, punctuated by the occasional supercharged rainstorm. The kind of downpour that currently strikes the Midwest around once every five years will hit around once every year or two. The most severe storms — the kind that currently show up once every 20 years — now arrive once every six or seven years.

Heavy rainfall will lead to flooding, and floodwaters will mix with raw sewage, helping to spread bacteria. Rains will also swamp homes and businesses, offering a place for mold to grow.

2100

By the end of this century, St. Louis is expected to have warmed by roughly 11 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter will scarcely look like winter. Summers will have gone from hot to unbearable.

During the hottest months, it will be so scorching that it will be dangerous to go outside for much of the day. People will depend more on air conditioners to stay cool, leading to bigger electric bills. Elderly people, particularly those who can’t afford to run an air conditioner, will face the risk of heat stroke and death.

The intense heat will take an immense toll on the local economy. Farms in Missouri and southern Illinois could see yields cut in half, ruining livelihoods.

In St. Louis itself, experts project that heat will stifle productivity by making it too hot to work. This could help cut the city’s economic output by around 8%.

No wonder so many teens are vowing to not have children until action is taken to slow/stop climate change. I’m glad to see them in the streets trying to get the attention of us adults. Sadly, too many of us are worried about profits, 401ks, etc to actually do anything.

I won’t live to see the worst of it, but some of them will.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Are We Too Soft On Crime?

September 22, 2019 Crime, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Are We Too Soft On Crime?
Please vote below

Last week Missouri Governor Mike Parsons was back in St. Louis, announcing the state’s new commitment to help reduce violence in the St. Louis region.

Starting Oct. 1, 25 Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers will be deployed in a variety of roles throughout the city.

Six of them, along with a cyber analyst, will be assigned to various task forces that focus on violent and gun crimes. Two investigators will join a federal-state partnership in which assistant attorneys general are deputized as federal prosecutors.

Other troopers will be deployed along the four interstates in what the governor is calling “surges.”

“We will work closely with [St. Louis] Chief John Hayden to determine the best operational periods for us to work in the city, but we’re going to keep that very diverse and look for these opportunities,” said Col. Eric Olsen, the commander of the highway patrol. (St  louis Public Radio)

Today’s Sunday Poll question is about violent crime in our region.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. Wednesday I’ll share my thoughts on the causes & solutions to violence in our region, along with the results of this non-scientific poll.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 15 of 2019-2020 Session

September 20, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 15 of 2019-2020 Session

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 15th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 14.

Today’s agenda includes five (5) new bills.

  • B.B. #108 – Middlebrook – An ordinance recommended by the Board of Public Service to vacate public surface rights for vehicle, equestrian and pedestrian travel in Fordey St. from Antelope St. to Thatcher Ave. and the easternmost 150 feet of the 20 foot wide east/west alley in City Block 4233 as bounded by Antelope, Fordey, Thatcher and East Railroad in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, as hereinafter described, in accordance with Charter authority, and in conformity with Section l4 of Article XXI of the Charter and imposing certain conditions on such vacation.
  • B.B. #109 – Martin – An ordinance recommended by the Board of Public Service to conditionally vacate above surface, surface and sub-surface rights for vehicle, equestrian and pedestrian travel in Van Buren St. from Primm St. to Tesson St. in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, as hereinafter described, in accordance with Charter authority, and in conformity with Section l4 of Article XXI of the Charter and imposing certain conditions on such vacation.
  • B.B. #110 – Middlebrook – An ordinance recommended by the Board of Public Service to conditionally vacate above surface, surface and sub-surface rights for vehicle, equestrian and pedes- trian travel in the westernmost 170.44′ ± 0.80′ of the 20 foot wide east/west alley in City Block 4233 as bounded by Fordey, Thatcher, East Railroad and Antelope in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, as hereinafter described, in accordance with Charter authority, and in conformity with Section l4 of Article XXI of the Charter and imposing certain conditions on such vacation.
  • B.B. #111 – Roddy – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for the 4545-4559 Laclede Ave. Area
  • B.B. #112 – Vollmer – An ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment making a supplemental appropriation to the Annual Budget Ordinance 70963 for Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2020, amounting to the sum of Nine Million Three Hundred and Sixty Thousand and Four Hundred Sixty Dollars ($9,360,460.00), and containing an Emergency Clause.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers Either Neutral or Feel Less Safe Around Open Carry

September 18, 2019 Featured Comments Off on Readers Either Neutral or Feel Less Safe Around Open Carry
Grand Theft Auto’s gun store Ammu-Nation

To many people the presence of a firearm makes them feel less safe.  Some research indicates it isn’t just a feeling — they’re less safe!

Does carrying a gun make you safer? Does it make other people safer? Millions of Americans who pack heat think so, and 33 states with “right to carry” laws permit them to tote a gun. But a long-range study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that these states would have had less violent crime had they restricted gun-carrying. John J. Donohue, a Stanford law professor and economist, is a lead author of the analysis, which used more than 30 years of crime statistics and a novel algorithm: Researchers identified states whose crime rates paralleled those of states like Texas before it passed a “right to carry” law, and came up with models — called synthetic states — to look at before-and-after violent crime in right-to-carry states and non-right-to-carry “synthetic” states. It’s comparing apples and virtual apples, and Donohue – who’s also an expert witness in a right-to-carry lawsuit against the state of California — concluded that gun-toting indeed makes a difference in violent crime: it can increase it, by as much as 15%. (Los Angeles Times op-ed)

The NBER research report can be found here.

From the conclusion:

The extensive array of panel data and synthetic control estimates of the impact of RTC laws that we present uniformly undermine the “More Guns, Less Crime” hypothesis. There is not even the slightest hint in the data that RTC laws reduce violent crime. Indeed, the weight of the evidence from the panel data estimates as well as the synthetic control analysis best supports the view that the adoption of RTC laws substantially raises overall violent crime in the ten years after adoption.

Many who participated in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll likely concur with this conclusion.

Q: Agree or disagree: I feel safer patronizing retail stores/restaurants that allow open carry of firearms.

  • Strongly agree: 10 [17.24%]
  • Agree: 4  [6.9%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [1.72%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 12 [20.69%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [3.45%]
  • Disagree: 12 [20.69%]
  • Strongly disagree: 17 [29.31%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

A minority of people feel safer around guns. Here’s an interesting  article by a person explaining why he and his wife carry a gun, though not open carry.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

Unable to display Facebook posts.
Show error

Error: (#10) To use 'Page Public Content Access', your use of this endpoint must be reviewed and approved by Facebook. To submit this 'Page Public Content Access' feature for review please read our documentation on reviewable features: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/apps/review.
Type: OAuthException
Code: 10
Please refer to our Error Message Reference.

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe