Medved: Imprisoning violent criminals may be costly, but releasing them costs society more

Oct 28, 2022, 4:33 PM | Updated: Dec 21, 2022, 2:28 pm


U.S. Attorney General William Barr (Photo by Jeff Roberson - Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jeff Roberson - Pool/Getty Images)

An important Wall Street Journal commentary by former Attorney General Bill Barr cites three significant and startling statistics that every American concerned by rising crime needs to confront.

First, Americans must recognize that while the impact of criminal violence is widespread, its perpetrators represent a tiny fraction of our total populace. This “small, hard-core group of habitual offenders constitute roughly 1% of the overall population but commit between half and two-thirds of predatory, violent crime.”

Barr writes that “each of these offenders can be expected to commit scores, even hundreds of crimes a year … The only time they aren’t committing crimes is when they’re in prison.”

More from Michael Medved: Crucial numbers that Republicans can’t ignore

Second, Barr describes the dramatic shift in national policies and priorities that began in the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations, with a focus on “getting tough” on crime that continued during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

As a result, from 1991 to 2013, the total prison population in the U.S. doubled – from roughly 800,000 to 1.8 million. At the same time, violent crime plummeted, dropping for 23 years. By 2014, it had been cut in half – to a level not seen since 1970 – and homicides of black victims were down by about 5,000 a year.

Third, the former attorney general slammed the Obama administration, “which saw a return to the revolving door and the demonization of police” so that by 2014, crime rates were headed back up with further increases “in the wake of the COVID pandemic and the Black Lives Matter riots.”

Attorney General Barr acknowledges the steep costs of increasing expenditures for more protection from police forces and expanded prison capacity, but he mentions the other lavish spending we provide to “reduce the risk of premature death or injury to the members of the public, including billions on highway safety, environmental quality” and medical care.

Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan fails majority of Americans

He concludes by recommending a rigorous, impartial cost-benefit analysis regarding the new resources we need for apprehending and incarcerating career criminals.

“Progressives say we can’t afford to keep violent predators in prison,” he laments. “On the contrary, we can’t afford not to.”

Listen to Michael Medved weekday afternoons from 12 – 3 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3).

Michael Medved on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to michael medvedThe Michael Medved Show formerly aired on AM 770 KTTH.

Michael Medved

Gaza attacks...

Michael Medved

Medved: The sad, ‘crazy’ tale of a Gaza water park, and Hamas’ war against fun

After barely three months of operation in 2010, the dream of a fanciful facility to attract tourists and delight locals lay in ruins.

9 months ago

2024 presidential debate...

Michael Medved

Medved: Will 2024 be the year of crucial political debates on TV?

It’s not difficult to imagine either Biden or Trump uttering some inaccurate or incoherent combinations of words that could undercut any momentum.

10 months ago

medved populism...

Michael Medved

Medved: GOP heading to irrelevance as party fails to embrace demographic changes

The spreading speculation about a new civil war isn't based on regionalism this time, but on distinctions in education and identity.

11 months ago


Michael Medved

Medved: How Biden learned money misdeeds can hurt most of all

The doomed example of "Tricky Dick" demonstrates the way that financial wrongdoing and personal enrichment can upset the public more than sex scandals.

11 months ago


Michael Medved

Picking the right running mate could powerfully boost Trump’s prospects

It’s impossible to forecast who Donald Trump will pick as his running mate for the upcoming election of 2024, but it’s safe to say who he won’t select.

12 months ago

trump campaign...

Michael Medved

Medved: Can a new Trump victimhood campaign win back the White House?

Facing more than a half-dozen hostile legal proceedings before next year’s presidential election, can Donald Trump mount an effective campaign?

12 months ago

Medved: Imprisoning violent criminals may be costly, but releasing them costs society more