In my latest reading of M. Stanton Evans' Clear and Present Dangers: A Conservative View of America's Government (copyright 1975), I finished the chapter "Freedom and Foreign Policy" and read the chapter on crime.
focus on Evans' chapter on crime. Evans' arguments are that poverty
does not cause crime because crime was lower during the Great Depression
than in the prosperous 1960's, that rehabilitation programs have not
worked, and that the murder rate was going down before the Supreme Court
banned the death penalty, after which time it went up.
be something to Evans' argument. But I was disappointed in two areas.
First, Evans criticizes the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that (in my
mind) sought to protect the rights of the accused under the Bill of
Rights, such as Gideon (the right to counsel), Mapp (evidence obtained
through "unreasonable searches and seizes", to use the language of the
Fourth Amendment, cannot be used in state courts), and Miranda (the
right for people to be informed when arrested that they don't have to
incriminate themselves). According to Evans, "to the extent [that these
decisions] simply deployed a procedural mine-field that hindered proper
law enforcement and permitted larger numbers of the guilty to get free
again, they were...allowing criminals to strike repeatedly at
law-abiding individuals" (page 324). Evans laments later in the book
that the U.S. Government is infringing on the authority of the states in
the field of "criminal procedure" (page 348).
I think that Evans
should have provided a more rigorous discussion about the Bill of
Rights. Evans earlier in the book disagrees with the notion that the
Fourteenth Amendment applies the Bill of Rights to the states, appealing
the sentiments of Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter. That raises
questions in my mind: How can we really have rights under the
Bill of Rights if the Bill of Rights does not apply to the states? Why
would it be so wrong to apply to the state courts the rules protecting
the rights of the accused in the federal courts? While Evans believes
that the Warren Court's decisions on criminal procedure hamper law
enforcement, obviously the Framers were concerned about the rights of
the accused, since amendments about that are in the Bill of Rights.
would Evans interpret the Fourteenth Amendment's stipulation that a
state cannot deprive citizens of their rights to life, liberty, and
property, without due process? Does not "liberty" include the rights
under the Bill of Rights? And, since Evans criticizes the Left's
interpretation and application of the Second Amendment (which talks
about the militia and the right to keep and bear arms), would he favor
courts striking down state and local gun control regulations on the
basis of the Second Amendment? Or is the Second Amendment the only one
that applies to the states?
Second, while Evans raised good points
about the death penalty being a deterrent, he failed (at least in the
book that I'm reading) to address crucial issues, such as the number of
innocent people who have been executed, as well as the costliness of
capital punishment to the state.
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