It may be desperately needed, but the structural realities mean that it’s unlikely that we’ll get major reform in 2015.
Happy New Year everyone! Over at Vox Matt Yglesias had fun issuing some 2015 predictions. Normally internet writer types try and hedge their bets on things like predictions, but Yglesias didn’t and predicted things.
Unfortunately he did make one pretty negative one when it comes to criminal justice and police reform:
11) Nothing will happen on police reform: There have been hints of a cross-party elite consensus that there’s some need for greater police restraint in an era of falling crime rates, but December revealed two enduring truths — police departments don’t want to change, and the public likes cops much more than it likes journalists or politicians. Nothing of substance is going to change as long as those two things are true.
This is a bitter pill to swallow for folks who’d like to see major reform in policing and the criminal justice system, and I’d count myself as one of those folks, but it’s hard to see how Yglesias is wrong in his analysis.
There almost certainly won’t be much action on the federal level. To begin with presidents in general have much less influence on domestic affairs in their last two years. Combine that with the fact that we’ll see one of the most overwhelmingly Republican Congresses since the 1920’s and reform on the national level really seems remote (consider the fact that GOP politicians like George Pataki and Rudolph Giuliani assigned personal blame on president Obama for the murder of two police officers in New York, and you get my drift).
I don’t want to sound too negative here, after all I think a lot of the work that a new generation activists have been doing (even here in Minnesota) is pretty impressive. Unfortunately the reality is that reform will probably come at the local level, through hard fought grassroots political action, and in all likelihood at an agonizingly slow pace. But then again that’s how change basically always happens (just ask the abolitionists), so it’s to be expected.
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