Chief Fletcher stirs against prison industrial complex

Fred Fletcher, Chattanooga police chief, joins with other top cops and prosecutors and opposing penal industrial system and its statutory feeder mechanism. (Photo Twitter)

Fred Fletcher, Chattanooga police chief, joins with other top cops and prosecutors ind opposing penal industrial system and its statutory feeder mechanism, of which he is a vital part. (Photo Chattanooga Police Department on Twitter)

By David Tulis

Chattanooga police chief Fred Fletcher has joined a group of prosecutors and police bosses to urge an end to a law enforcement status quo that fills prisons and embitters the people against the state.

“Most people believe more punishment means less crime,” the group says. “The more criminals we lock up, the safer we are. But as police officers, we know firsthand that relying on jail and prison time is not enough.”

The group Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration wants to “reduce unnecessary incarceration” and to “replace ineffective policies with new solutions that both reduce crime and incarceration.”

“Research shows that imprisoning people at today’s levels has little measurable crime control benefit. In fact, jail and prison can kick-start a

cycle of incarceration that turns first-time offenders into repeat offenders. Incarceration turns people’s lives upside down, hurts the communities they belong to, and costs taxpayers an astonishing $80 billion per year — all while doing little to reduce crime.”

Police and prosecutors are in something of a bind. While they have prosecutorial discretion, that has limits in face of the myriad laws passed by state and federal legislatures. But Mr. Fletcher and the others want laws to be reigned in “to more balanced and fair levels.”

Prison populations at ‘crisis point’

Mr. Fletcher and his colleagues lament the number of people put into prison, many for nonviolent laws that are not evils within themselves (malum in se) but evils merely by custom or prohibition (malum prohibitum).

“If the prison population were a state, it would be the 36th largest — bigger than Delaware, Vermont, and Wyoming combined. Too many people are behind bars that don’t belong there.”

Prison is a school for crime for many people who are introduce to violent and perpetual offenders. Months or years behind bars “affects nonviolent offenders, who in prison are surrounded by people with serious and violent backgrounds, and upon release carry the social and legal stigma of convicts.”

The group will be a political lobby favoring de-escalation of the state’s war against its people, which according to one The Rise and Decline of the State by van Creveld, is half the purpose of the modern state. (The other half is war against other peoples in their nation-states).

Contradicting state as predator

Mr. Fletcher in this effort seems to be running counter to the interest of other police lobbies that support tougher laws and continuing special legal favors to police that make them a special, protected class.

Police interests are active today in the Tennessee general assembly defending the civil asset forfeiture statute, which is a legislative grant for that great peril to the traveling public — the highway robbery by cop in which police steal assets, cars and money without any criminal charges being filed, on the vaguest suspicion.

The cop lobby has been giving Sen. Todd Gardenhire “an earful” against reform, a report says. “Quite frankly, we’ve been getting pretty ugly emails from people saying ‘you’re just trying to help the drug dealers. Well no, that’s not true.”

Chief Fletcher, a reasonable man, knows the predatory state is imposing continuing costs upon the public, and his actions indicate he is willing to take a position against it, at least partly.

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Sources: Calvin Sneed, “Taking Your Car During A Traffic Stop: Tennessee Lawmakers Want to Separate The Good Guys From The Bad Guys,” Oct. 26, 2015,

“Statement of Principles,” Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration,

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