Americans Worry About Increasing Crime- Bill Clinton Defends Mass Incarceration


 American concern about crime is at record levels (highest in 15 years) while former President Bill Clinton powerfully defends mass incarceration. These two issues capped the most interesting and telling week in criminal justice in quite some time. The result could have meaning for criminal justice reform.

Gallup Poll:

Americans’ level of concern about crime and violence is at its highest point in 15 years, says a new Gallup survey. Fifty-three percent of U.S. adults say they personally worry “a great deal” about crime and violence, an increase of 14 percentage points since 2014. Gallup said the figure is the highest the firm has measured since March 2001.


Growing Concern Over Crime Analysis:

First, American concern about crime is both understandable and irrational at the same time.

Yes, violent crime increased in 2015 (as predicted by this site, see, but that growth came on the heels of over twenty years of almost continuous decreases in crime.

But riots in cities throughout the country regarding race and law enforcement, and vast increases in homicides and violent crime in major cities have Americans on edge. Important policy changes regarding incarceration and other efforts to reform the criminal justice system may be in jeopardy.

Clinton on Mass Incarceration:

Former President Bill Clinton appeared before protestors while campaigning for his wife, Hillary. As president, Clinton supported expanded incarceration policies, and the US federal government supplied funds to encourage the construction and the mass expansion of prisons throughout the country.

“The ones that won’t let you answer are afraid of the truth,” Bill Clinton admonished protesters in Philadelphia at a campaign event for Hillary Clinton. The protesters peppered him with questions about the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which has become wrapped up in this campaign cycle as Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders both build criminal justice promises based on dismantling parts of it, The Atlantic reports. The crime law, a signature accomplishment of his presidency and one to which Hillary has been tied, has been identified as a main culprit behind mass incarceration.”


Clinton’s strong response to protestors and his lecturing tone caught many by surprise. He shouted that mass incarceration brought down crime considerably and, by inference, saved the lives of many of the people that the protestors were supposedly defending. He chastised protestors in the harshest possible terms by inferring that they were protecting the very people that were unleashing havoc on their communities.

Increasing Fear/Bill Clinton’s Remarks Means?

Throughout the monumentally interesting US election cycle in 2016, there seems to be a significant undercurrent of uncertainty and discontent, with Americans expressing confusion as to their place in national and world politics. Disgruntlement with the political status quo by conservatives and liberals might bring us to the cusp of considerable change.

Couple this with record concern about violent crime, and a former president’s emphatic defense of mass incarceration, Americans may go back to basics and support traditional criminal justice policies.

Fundamental change in criminal justice policies, however needed and justified, could and probably will get lost in a retrenchment of values regarding Americans and their personal sense of vulnerability.

While Americans want fairness from law enforcement, and effectiveness in our correctional policies, major change may be delayed until we regain control over increasing violence. More riots, more violence, and more heated political rhetoric will only cause the nation to retrench.






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