Record-Setting Crime

Someone needs to call Guinness. There are criminals out there setting records.

The Los Angeles Times reported that since California instituted a zero-bail policy for lesser offenders during the pandemic, some miscreants have been committing new crimes and getting arrested again just after being released.

Bad guys gotta do bad stuff.

The implication of this reporting was that this is a problem. The police chief was quoted as saying repeat offenders need to be off the streets. But is this really a problem?

If you read the Times story all the way through, you learn that people with multiple arrests account for 5% of all arrests, compared with 4% during the same period last year.

This shocking fact follows a sentence in which we learn that arrests are down by 37%.

Do the math. The multiple-arrest people are probably a lot fewer than they were a year ago, since there are a lot fewer arrests of any kind.

Why is this a news story?

Actually, it should be a news story — but with a slightly different slant, for a number of reasons.

The real news could be that pandemics may be an effective method for reducing crime.

Or maybe releasing people without demanding bail reduces crime.

After all, if you haven’t spent all your money on bail, you don’t need to commit so many crimes.

There are other questions to consider.

Are people arrested repeatedly for minor crimes a danger to society or just incompetent criminals?

If you keep getting caught, how dangerous are you?

Shouldn’t we be worrying about all the released criminals not being arrested? Those are the guys to worry about.

Someone also needs to alert the Guinness World Records people. There’s a ridiculously bad criminal out there who should be recognized for a record-setting arrest achievement.

First Amendment. Speech is everything and everything is speech. Some of it is free and some of it isn’t free.

Usually I bring this sort of thing up when someone claims that taking off clothes or clogging streets is speech. You know, the kind of stuff we want to see in TED talks.

But there are a lot more kinds of free speech that don’t get the attention they deserve. Firing people, for example. Even if you don’t agree that firing someone is speech — though it clearly communicates a message — you can’t argue that talking about firing someone isn’t speech.

That’s the point that lawyers for a credit union made, as described in a recent Texas Court of Appeals ruling. A woman sued the credit union for age discrimination and the credit union lawyers moved to dismiss the suit because it was based on the union’s “exercise of its right of free speech on a matter of public concern.”

The public concern was whether the plaintiff should be fired for leaving a vault door open for a couple of hours. The speech was “discussions among (credit union) employees regarding the vault incident and (the plaintiff’s) behavior.”

Anything you talk about — in other words, anything — is protected by the Constitution.

For some reason, the Texas court didn’t buy this argument. The fight for free speech is far from over.

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