Crime-Misery Index

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Back in 2005, Steve Sailer worked out a Crime-Misery Index, combining homicide rates and imprisonment rates, with both normalized so that 100 would be equal to the average of the 1950s:

Crime-Misery Index Sailer

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Black Family in the Age of Incarceration presents a similar graph, using violent crime rates instead of homicide rates:

Crime-Misery Index Coates

To Coates and his editors, the graph proves that locking violent criminals up doesn’t deter crime, while Sailer suggests it means just the opposite:

Yet, by eliminating the pre-1960s years, their graph does a better job than mine of making the obvious more obvious: liberals wrecked the cities in the 1960s and 1970s by being soft on crime.

In the Sixties, the imprisonment rate went down as the crime rate went up, meaning that, increasingly, crime did pay. According to The Atlantic’s own graph, the imprisonment rate was no higher in 1970 than in 1960 even though close to 3.5 [times as many] violent crimes were being committed. In other words, assuming all else being equal, your chance of doing time for committing a violent crime was only about 2/7ths in 1970 of what it had been back in 1960.


It would be easier to take the fashionable conventional wisdom about how we have to let so many felons out of prison more seriously if it were first offered with an apology for what happened the last time liberals were handed the key to the national criminal justice car: “We’re sorry about what we did to America in the 1960s and 1970s. We really, really messed up. But we’ve learned from our mistakes and we promise not to do it again.”


As you probably have noticed by now, “conversation” is SJW for “I’m going to lecture you some more, and I don’t want any of your impertinent backtalk.”


  1. Abelard Lindsey says:

    The crime-misery index leaves out a very important parameter, institutionalization in mental hospitals. If you combine the imprisonment rate and the institutional rates, the combined rate today is comparable to that of the 1950′s. The difference is that far fewer people are institutionalized today than in the 1950′s.

Leave a Reply