Two points for Lott. First, he writes that “locking up people in prison might be a very important way of deterring those who have nothing else to lose.” How much deterrence does he see among the young African American dropouts, 60 percent of whom are going to prison, and many more are spending time in local jails? We are agreed that when people have very little, deterrence is a very (socially and financially) expensive proposition.
Lott also asserts that Wilson’s arguments aren’t based on “disproportionate and prejudiced” anger, but on logical arguments about deterrence. When Wilson asks what crimes are deserving of post-release services and what crimes are undeserving, this is an appeal to values. Which is fine. It’s the discussion Glenn Loury wants us to have. But it’s not about logic.