The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this project is something I’ll never be able to prove, but I’m convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.
It’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence. What evidence? In attempting to collect this information, I was lied to and delayed by the FBI, even when I was only trying to find out the addresses of police departments to make public records requests. The government collects millions of bits of data annually about law enforcement in its Uniform Crime Report, but it doesn’t collect information about the most consequential act a law enforcer can do.
I’ve been lied to and delayed by state, county and local law enforcement agencies—almost every time. They’ve blatantly broken public records laws, and then thumbed their authoritarian noses at the temerity of a citizen asking for information that might embarrass the agency. And these are the people in charge of enforcing the law.
The Wall Street Journal reports that starting on April 1, all of those states plan to reinstate a rule that had been set aside after the financial crisis led to mass unemployment: that adults with no dependents or disabilities are limited to “three months of food stamps in any three-year period—unless they work at least 80 hours a month, or meet education and training or volunteer benchmarks.”
If people are unable to find a job, it is cruel to force them to starve, and it is foolish to make a poor, unemployed, hungry person sit through classes that will not directly lead to a job, or spend their time volunteering, for no income, simply so they can have food to eat, but no money or free time to obtain it. The likely outcome of reinstating these rules: “The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 500,000 to one million people will lose access to food stamps this year, citing the experience in states where work requirements already returned.”
If you’re like me and don’t have a WSJ subscription, you can see the states that are going to do this here.