The idea of characterizing people as “career criminals” implies that people who have been convicted multiple times have chosen crime as a career. This notion becomes incredibly insulting when you realize that nearly all social services, such as education, health care, drug and alcohol treatment, and mental health services, have been cut to the point of irrelevance. In Albuquerque, drug treatment options for low-income families are very limited. We have Turquoise Lodge, which is limited in bed space and treatment options. Most other options require insurance or payment.
Education in low income communities is woefully inadequate. College is often out of reach, either financially or due to lack of preparation. So, the idea that “career criminals” somehow went through life with perfectly good options and then made a reasoned choice for crime and violence is absurd. It’s the kind of absurdity one expects to see on a regular basis in newspapers like the Journal, who insist on a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. They refuse to acknowledge that the bootstraps available in low-income communities are markedly different from those in medium or high income communities. So, what’s the solution? For the Journal, name calling and fear-mongering. Let’s all throw our hands up and toss these “thugs” into the private-contractor infested Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center where they can be warehoused until they are moved to a larger warehouse in the New Mexico Department of Corrections.
The narrative is designed for the disinterested: If you find a “defective” human, simply throw them in the trash and have them stored in a warehouse. The warehousing problem is so severe in America that even conservative media outlets like The Economist are beginning to acknowledge it. What option does the Journal propose? What is their solution? Mental health services were scrapped in the 80s by one of the Journal’s Republican heroes, Republican Governor Martinez is forcing welfare recipients to work, though the Journal article reporting that news doesn’t say where they will work or what kind of training is being offered, or whether all of these people have the mental and physical stability to hold jobs.
The Journal’s focus seems clear, let’s use fear-mongering, click-bait headlines to put eyes on our ads. The work of thinking through real solutions is left to other people, like Norway’s highly effective rehabilitation system.
The first step to fixing our system is to stop thinking of people as monsters or trash and start showing up, in person, to treat our communities as living human organisms rather than as factory appliances.