Krugman, Brady, and Stand Your Ground laws

by Walter Olson on March 26, 2012

I mostly ignore the frothings of Paul Krugman in the New York Times, but his column today pursues a logic that’s insane even for him: in an attack on the right-of-center American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), he proposes that Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws tie into a trend of “growing incarceration” intended to line the coffers of private prison contractors. Earth to Krugman: SYG laws bolster criminal defendants’ rights, and your colleagues at the Times have been complaining that as a result it’s too hard for prosecutors to send people to prison for long terms. Next time, could you stop and think before hitting the send button?

In the opinion piece I’m finishing up, I expect to argue that as more facts emerge about the Feb. 26 Martin/Zimmerman confrontation, the 2005 changes to Florida self-defense law known as Stand Your Ground are looking less and less likely to control the legal outcome of the case. Along those lines, I notice in Friday’s Washington Post what I read as a straw in the wind:

“We’ve never thought by itself that the law is the main issue,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “What we think is the main issue is the mentality that that law provides.”

Hmm. So despite hundreds of press assertions to the contrary in the past week, the actual content of the Florida law (as opposed to its supposed furtherance of a vague “mentality”) doesn’t turn out to be the main issue after all. Earlier here and here (& Reason).

Don’t miss related analysis from Eugene Volokh on the scope of the self-defense justification in American criminal law and the standards for probable cause in arresting someone who claims that justification. And Jennifer Rubin weighs in at Washington Post “Right Turn” (quoting me). More: Scott Greenfield, Steve Chapman.

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Paul Krugman: ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws Increase Incarceration by Reducing It | Libertarios of America
03.26.12 at 2:08 pm
Will Stand Your Ground change the outcome of the Martin/Zimmerman case?
03.27.12 at 4:01 pm


1 Anonymous Attorney 03.26.12 at 12:30 pm

What Krugman meant to say was that SYG is racist, the prison-industrial complex is racist, and it’s got effective lobbyists that get stuff like SYG signed into law. It’s just a blip that SYG does, as Walter notes, shrink the potential earnings of the complex. Most of the complex expands it. As always, a burbling undercurrent of racial-conflict lava informs everything that happens above, and nobody ever talks about it, save for the Al Sharpton version.

2 Carolina Divorce Lawyer 03.26.12 at 1:14 pm

“pursues a logic that’s insane even for him”

Sadly, he still has a forum and a following.

3 ras 03.26.12 at 1:58 pm

So it’s time to police mentality, is it?

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