December 29, 2010

Execute Michael Vick

Hat tip Hot Air.  

Tucker Carlson shoots off the line during his guest host spot on the Beck program.

The comment was a minor part of a larger discussion about whether or not the President should have made a call to Philadelphia Eagle's owner Lurie praising him for giving Vick a chance despite his felony record for dogfighting and animal cruelty (which was some pretty nasty stuff). Carlson repeats this assertion presumably to underscore his sincerity of feeling on this point.  It was provocative the first time...silly, but provocative, its an opinion program, I get it.  But upon hearing the second repetition, my brain immediately responded <idiot>.

Ed Morrissey opines:
Lurie didn’t hire Vick for selfless reasons; he hired Vick to exploit his talent, and the investment has paid off well. Why that requires a presidential salute is beyond me.
The call struck me as a bit superfluous as well, considering all the other things on Obama's plate to make a call about.  On the other hand, I figure the President has a right to be moved by something and comment on it just like anybody else; he simply has the misfortune of occupying a job where his slightest utterance can provoke endless debate.

Here's where I think his comment to Lurie adds value: we have a serious problem with how we manage the reentry of ex-offenders back into our communities in this country.  The United States has a huge prison population, which is a natural consequence of being a nation of laws administered via a justice system created by flawed human beings.  We jail people for a lot of different things, some we arguably ought not.  Those who are released back to the community but remain under some level of custody to the state are subject to be sent back to prison for a host of reasons ranging from the serious and deserving of consequence to the trivial, cut off your nose to spite your face variety. The cost of maintaining this approach is breaking the back of state corrections budgets and they are all trying to drive those costs down.

The single biggest predictor of whether or not an ex offender will re-offend is whether or not they are employed.  Its not drug use, its not family connection, its not the level of services available to help them re-enter.  Its whether or not they have work. However, the bitter reality is that if you're an ex-con and you check yes in the box on the employment app that asks if you've ever been convicted of a felony, its going in the circular file. Not even a question. So the reality is that 90% or more of ex-cons enter the ranks of the permanently unemployable upon release, with devastating results for their families and communities.

In that context, Vick, while assuredly not the typical ex-offender released from jail, is a powerful conversation starter with employers about the role they can play in helping ex-offenders re-enter our society and stay on the straight and narrow. Were Vick and the President to make that the dominant narrative of his story, they might actually contribute to moving the problem of reentry closer to a better solution.