Originally Posted by stephanie
Adam tried to bring up Kleiman-esque CJ ideas and the drug war, and was dismissed -- interestingly, less because the ideas were bad as because the people who would benefit didn't deserve it, whatever the effect on the community as a whole. (It was an interesting sharp turn into moralism and pretty revealing, I thought.)
I finished listening to this on my bike ride home today, and it was a fairly unpleasant experience. It was pretty clear after the first half hour that Serwer, while probably a pretty bright guy, was not well equipped to deal with Amy Wax's belligerence. I quickly grew tired of his indignant and inarticulate sputtering to some embarrassingly inane point Wax was making. I do think some of what Wax said was useful; I didn't know some of the statistics that she was citing, and was fairly surprised at the magnitude of some socioeconomic racial disparities, even after controlling for obvious factors like income and education. I agree that when the discussion turned to ways to reintegrate prisoners into society, it was telling how quickly Wax attempted to morph the discussion along moral dimensions. The pragmatic question of the employment characteristics of convicted felons aside, I found it troubling as well how she pounced on the fairness issue of using public policy to mitigate the social stigma and economic hurdles facing these men. Whether it's fair or not, and since Wax is somehow evidently simultaneously a true believer in "demography is destiny" and the idea that free will driven puritan spunk will cure all ills, what's so fucking fair about growing up in a violent neighborhood with a drug addict moms and an incarcerated father? There is some economic literature tying recidivism rates to local economic opportunity, and while evidently the causal link isn't entirely clear, a person's chances are better when we don't throw them into jail for as long, or at all, and provide them with some help, i.e. drug counseling etc. In any event, I agree that it would be cool to have more Bhtv discussions on drug and criminal justice policy. I appreciate your thoughts.