How Financial Pressures Leave Us Under-Policed And Over-Incarcerated
Fascinating! I think this is the first time I've heard of solutions to crime and policing that don't villianize any group or rely on partisan/ideological assumptions. I haven't been this impressed with a wonky policy solution since I learned about Georgism.
As far as how to make it go down politically, anything that would increase numbers of police won't be accepted by wide swaths of liberal voters unless it's paired with some of the other solutions you mention like making it easier to fire bad cops and/or replacing armed police with automation or health care workers in some situations. I wonder if police unions would accept that trade: more membership but decreased power to protect all members and slightly decreased responsibility of police. It'd be hard to frame the reforms in a way that makes it acceptable to both sides of this culture war: admitting that police are harmful sometimes and also helpful sometimes is more nuance than most can handle.
This is incredibly impressive, especially for a guy who isn't focused on this topic. This is an original perspective I've never come across before, and I find it convincing. You lay out your case very well with just the right amount of supporting details and arguments. My compliments to DO for bringing in an outside voice that might differ from him on some opinions.
Some scattered thoughts:
Aside from incapacitating the most dangerous criminals sooner, funding courts would also shorten the time the innocent spend in trial and pre-trial detention. I wanted to add that because I think funding courts is a no-brainer that everyone can get behind for one reason or another.
On crime reporting and clearance: I've done a very deep dive into the FBI's homicide data, downloading and analyzing all 800,000+ murders in their database going all the way back to 1976. You may be interested to know that murder reporting is probably lower than you think, but clearance rates may be higher.
With respect to murder reporting, I compared county level totals, as reported by police agencies, to the numbers of homicide victims reported by coroners to the CDC, and found that they differ by as much as 30% in the some states. Putting that together with some other evidence that would be a little too much to go into here, I estimate that the murder rate in the US is probably about 15-20% higher than usually usually stated, and that the undercounting ranges from possibly 10% in the best states to probably 40% in the worst (Mississippi is the worst in case you're curious).
On clearance, the good news is homicide clearance is probably much higher than found in the data. Professional audits have found examples of individual police department underreporting clearance by as much as 30%. The issue seems to be a simple lack of care for the data that they are reporting to the FBI, and a consequent lack of training and review of that data.
The bad news is the national clearance rate appears to be steadily dropping since 1976, from about 75% to 65%. Whether that's real or an effect of sloppier data standards I can't tell.
But more negatively, clearance rates by demographics are diverging. In the late 70s, the clearance rate for any combination of young adult, male or Black victims was actually higher than was the rate for any combination of older adult, female and non-Black. But since then the clearance rate for the latter 3 descriptors has risen while the clearance rate of the former has fallen drastically.
So for example in the late 70s the murder of a young, Black male had a 80% chance of being reported as cleared, while the murder of an older, not Black female had a 70% chance. Fast forward to the 2010s and the chance that the young Black male's murderer is arrested has fallen 25% to just 55% while the older, not Black female's chance of clearance has risen 20% to 90%!
One last thing: I feel something was left out of the international comparisons on prison populations. Severity of sentence should be compared directly. Comparing the sizes of the prison populations ignores the possibility that more crimes are happening here than in Europe. I've seen it argued that prison sentences for murder in many European countries are actually longer and gun possession charges are much, much longer and more aggressively prosecuted than in the US. Therefore our larger prison population is due to more crime, and not lighter sentencing. I wish I could easily find a source that rigorously compared average sentencing by crime, but I haven't found one yet.
Also I think we are more culturally similar to Lain America than we are to Europe, but most people don't seem to agree with me, lol.