In a perfect world, Johnny don't do crime.
But we don't live in a perfect world. Nobody knows that better than the citizens of Detroit City, Wayne County, State of Michigan, U.S.A.
Johnny commits a lot of crime here. So we have set up a system to deal with him: Johnny pulls a crime. Officer Dutiful arrests him. The magistrate arraigns him. The jail holds him. The judge sentences him. Johnny goes back to jail waiting for his bed in the state pen. Johnny does his time. Johnny gets released, gets a job and reports to his parole officer.
That's how it is supposed to work. But it doesn't. The Detroit Police Department is in disarray. Everybody from here to Tijuana knows that. But the police are only a shard in this shattered window.
The city council was lambasted as a group of buffoons when earlier this week they voted down a ballot proposal to increase property taxes to pay for more police. But it was the responsible thing to do. For one, the measure was probably illegal under state law. What's more, less than half of Detroiters own a home and people like voting for things they don't have to pay for. In the end, the measure would probably have forced marginal homeowners out of the city as they are already the most burdened taxpayers in Michigan.
So the council turned around and lambasted Police Chief Ralph Godbee as an incompetent and told him to figure it out.
With little choice, Godbee turned around and dumped the dirt in the rank and file's lap, requiring them to work 12-hour shifts in broken-down cruisers in order to get more presence on the street.
But let's hope the cops don't do their jobs all that well because the system will collapse. Here's what you may not know.
The Detroit Police are operating under federal oversight. As a consequence, they don't have the ability to lock up all the criminals that should be. The county jail is also operating under federal oversight. But Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano has underfunded the jail for years and so magistrates are forced to give easy bail. Routinely, violent offenders are released into the community on electronic tether.
The next day as Officer Dutiful is driving through the neighborhood, Johnny is there on the porch to give him the finger.
The county prosecutor and the courts are also overwhelmed and underfunded by Ficano. So Johnny goes to court and gets a light sentence.
Assuming Johnny is sent to prison, chances are he'll be released early because the Michigan Department of Corrections can't manage a budget nearly the size of Detroit's.
So Johnny gets paroled. Johnny absconds and nobody chases him down. Johnny can't find a job, so Johnny joins a crime crew and here we go again.
Consider that over the last year, 34 killings in Southeastern Michigan were linked to parolees and probationers, according to a lawsuit filed by the former head of internal affairs for the Department of Corrections.
Ten thousand cops on the streets ain't gonna fix that.
Solution? How about anybody with skin in this game -- the governor, the feds, the county executive, the mayor, the attorney general, the county prosecutor -- get into a room and start talking about a holistic solution to the crime problem.
And they need to do it now. Because Johnny's killing us.