Random Murders and the Corrosive Damage of Stranger Violence

The revelation that a young male who entered Germany illegally (he claims to be 17 and an Afghan citizen, but Germany doesn't check, believe it or not) in 2015 is the suspect in the random rape-murder of a 19-year-old medicine student in Freiburg, Germany is still echoing throughout the German press and German society. The broadsheets can't avoid reporting on this crime, but are obviously straining mightily to avoid drawing any implications from it. Meanwhile, the comment sections are on fire. There, you can read everything from reasoned critiques of Merkel's policies to sputtering xenophobic tirades.

The national broadsheets will soon stop covering the case, anxious as always to downplay crime by illegal immigrants. But this case, and others like it, will certainly increase Germans' fears about crime and security to levels even higher than they are now. The main reason is that so many of the new crimes committed by the hundreds of thousands of young males who entered in 2015 are stranger on stranger violence. How could they not be? Most of the new arrivals are still strangers to German society, and will be for years yet.

This introduction (pdf) to a criminology symposium gives a good introduction to the sinister force of stranger violence:

Stranger violence represents one of the most frightening forms of criminal victimization. Conklin and McIntyre have argued that the fear of crime is basically a fear of strangers. It is suggested that people fear the unknown person who commits an unpredictable and violent attack on a vulnerable and innocent citizen going about routine daily activities. The perceptions that the attacker is indiscriminate in his selection of the victim and that the victim can do little to avoid attack or protect himself also elicit fear in society. The urban dweller, in particular, confronts what Silberman refers to as a "startling paradox":

Life in metropolitan areas . . . involves a startling paradox: we fear strangers more than anything else, and yet we live our lives among strangers. Every time we take a walk, ride a subway or bus, shop in a supermarket or department store, enter an office building lobby or elevator, work in a factory or large office, or attend a ball game or the movies, we are surrounded by strangers. The potential for fear is as immense as it is unavoidable.

The fear of crime from strangers has important consequences for life in a civil society. People stay behind locked doors and travel by taxi or car rather than public transportation or on foot to avoid contact with strangers. When people go out, they travel in groups and avoid returning to their homes at a late hour. They stay away from cultural and educational events if traveling to a certain section of the city at night is required. Such avoidance behavior represents what economists refer to as "opportunity costs." When people stay home, they are not enjoying the educational and cultural advantages of their community. By restricting with whom they will interact, the general level of sociability decreases. Such responses not only undermine the trust essential for a civil society, but diminish the quality of life as well.

For years, Germany had relatively few stranger homicides or severe beatings. I'm sure those numbers are going to tick up thanks to the 2015 influx. And it doesn't really matter by how much. Even one spectacular random crime such as the Freiburg rape-murder has a massively disproportionate impact. To put it crudely, it does as much damage to general perceptions of public safety as a hundred murders between intimate partners, criminal accomplices, or acquaintances.

Will this increased perception of danger lead to new laws? Probably not. As Michael Tonry pointed out long ago, German criminal justice policy remains highly stable even in the face of rising crime rates. The reasons include:

  • A press landscape dominated by state media which sensationalizes crime less than private media.
  • A higher level of trust in 'experts' such as criminologists, sociologists, and lawyers, most of whom still endorse a therapeutic, rehabilitative approach to corrections.
  • Criminal laws are made at the national level, not the local level.
  • Lawyers and civil servants are powerful gatekeepers who prevent fluid, responsive changes in criminal-justice policy.

None of these deep structural/institutional factors will change anytime soon. So we will have a situation in which the public feels increasingly exposed and insecure because of rising stranger violence, but has no way of actually changing policy in response to it.

The anxiety and anger won't disappear, it will instead run into other channels:

  • increasing support for extreme parties
  • mainstream parties experimenting with pungent anti-crime rhetoric to try to slow their decline
  • citizen watch groups and patrols
  • even more explicit "stranger danger" lessons in schools
  • revenge attacks on members of ethnic groups perceived as contributing to the problem
  • more traffic to tabloids and Internet press outlets which offer uncensored coverage of immigrant crime
  • taboo-breaking pop-culture themes that legitimize a desire for revenge against predators and a return to safety and order (think "Dirty Harry" or "Death Wish").

As I've said before, I lived through this before, in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. Many of these trends can be seen right now in Germany, and they're only going to increase. They won't be driven by overall crime rates (which may well remain stable as Germany's aging population counterbalances the new crimes committed by young male migrants), they'll be driven by an increase in stranger-on-stranger violent crime.


Another 17-Year-Old Afghan Goes on a Murder Spree

Not that it took anything but common sense to make it, but my prediction of this morning stands confirmed.

According to the just-completed police press conference, the accused in the case of the October 2016 rape and murder of Maria L. is an "unaccompanied minor" from Afghanistan who claimed to be 17 years old. His "unusual haircut" (which he never bothered to change) gave him away, and his DNA matches DNA found at the crime scene.

Cops were working overtime, and are justifiably proud of the arrest. They were working under the constraints of German law, which forbids them from creating an ethnic profile from the DNA found at the crime scene, which would have immediately ruled out Northern Europeans as a DNA contributor. The accused was living with a German host family. No word yet whether he is also involved in the rape and murder of a jogger which happened in the same general area in November. Given how rare these sorts of crimes are (were?) in Germany, I'd bet the odds are fairly high he is.

This is the second time this year that a German host family has woken up to find that the shy, polite 17-year-old "unaccompanied minor" from Afghanistan with whom they shared their home turned out to be a ticking time-bomb (g). One hacked four people nearly to death with an ax, this latest one may be a serial sex-murderer.

Have I mentioned my suspicion that a disproportionately large number of the young males who arrived in 2015 seem to have mental problems, and were probably sent away by their families because they were an embarrassment/liability back home?

If he's convicted -- and especially he's found responsible for other random murders of young women -- this case will have a huge impact on the immigration debate here.

And why shouldn't it?

If only there were some way to investigate the background and mental condition of illegal immigrants before letting them enter and move freely about your country....

 

 


Thefts in German Trains and Stations up 25% from 2014 to 2015

German authorities have just released data showing a 25% increase (g) in thefts in German trains and train stations from 2014 to 2015, from 35,800 to 44,800 cases. Even the 2014 number, 35,800, represented a 20% increase from 2013. The authorities blame foreign organized-crime gangs.

You know who this affects? Every able-bodied person in Germany. Millions of Germans use trains every day, and therefore have to enter into areas where thieves are increasingly active, and the government is powerless to stop them. The police can do nothing but issue helpless-sounding tips on how to avoid being targeted.

Another communal public amenity which Germans must use becoming increasingly dangerous, another Nice Thing gone, another data point showing the gradual -- in this case, not so gradual -- decline in living standards in Germany.

Drip, drip, drip.

A lot of Germans are going to ask the perfectly reasonable question: "Why can't our government stop foreign criminal gangs coming into our country to rob us?"

And getting no straight answer from any party except The Irresponsible Populists.


The German Press Edits Out Another Inconvenient Truth

As might be expected, German news sources have been all over the shooting of Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old unarmed black male who was shot by police near Tulsa, Oklahoma a few days ago. The German TV channel RTL even calls him a "pastor", which is guaranteed to awaken false associations in Germans, who are unaware that this title is meaningless in the USA. (Ministers of the established German Protestant Church are staid, well-educated civil servants.) The Bild-Zeitung, Germany's highest-circulation tabloid, confidently announced (g): "These pictures leave hardly any questions." Another story suggests it's murder.

The police officer who fired the fatal shot claims Crutcher had repeatedly refused to follow instructions, was behaving erratically, and reached into his car. She claims she thought he was going for a weapon.

None of the many reports I've seen in the German press mentions a fact that is in almost every US news report: Police found PCP in Crutcher's car. There's no evidence yet whether he was actually under the influence of the drug at the time of his shooting, but officers at the scene claim he was acting in a bizarre manner which they thought looked like intoxication with some strong hallucinogen (and this was before they had searched his car).

What is PCP intoxication like? Let's turn to Drugs.com:

A moderate amount of PCP often causes users to feel detached, distant, and estranged from their surroundings. Numbness of the extremities, slurred speech, and loss of coordination may be accompanied by a sense of strength and invulnerability. A blank stare, rapid and involuntary eye movements, and an exaggerated gait are among the more observable effects. Auditory hallucinations, image distortion, severe mood disorders, and amnesia may also occur. In some users, PCP may cause acute anxiety and a feeling of impending doom; in others, paranoia and violent hostility, and in some, it may produce a psychoses indistinguishable from schizophrenia. Many believe PCP to be one of the most dangerous drugs of abuse....

At high doses of PCP, there is a drop in blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration. This may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, flicking up and down of the eyes, drooling, loss of balance, and dizziness. High doses of PCP can also cause seizures, coma, and death (though death more often results from accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication). Psychological effects at high doses include illusions and hallucinations.

People on PCP can display unusual strength owing to the adrenaline rushes caused by terrifying hallucinations. I worked for a while at a public mental hospital in Texas when I was younger. Every couple of weeks, we would get a new admission of someone who had done PCP and then been found in public screaming and/or naked and/or covered in feces and/or wandering in traffic, or some combination of the above. Often, they'd injured themselves or attacked people. The cops brought them to the mental hospital, where we had to deal with them. Usually the effects had worn off somewhat by the time they were delivered to us, but their behavior was still unpredictable. One of them, while locked in an isolation cell because of his violent outbursts, chewed his own thumb off and ate it.

PCP isn't 'just another drug'. It's incredibly dangerous, and everyone knows this. Anyone who would try it even once has serious psychological problems simply for wanting to try it. Here is a video of people under the influence of PCP, which is definitely not for the faint of heart:

Obviously, there should be a full investigation, mere drug possession or intoxication doesn't justify an unwarranted killing, etc. This could still turn out to be an unjustified shooting, in which case the officers should be punished and reforms introduced.

Nevertheless, evidence Crutcher possessed this drug and that officers believed he was under its influence is relevant to understanding the context of the video. But alas, the purpose of German news reporting on American is almost always to reinforce prejudices, not to foster understanding.


Fun with Pattern Recognition: Shots Fired by German Police, 2007-2015

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From reddit's Data is Beautiful. Gee, I wonder what caused the big jump in 2015?

The first 2 comments:

[–]TheGogglesDoNothing -- I suspect that this graph will correlate pretty well to a graph of "shootings by police in Chicago from 9/1-9/7".

 

[–]foll-trood -- that's not how you format hours and minutes


"Pietro told the court that he masturbated in the open only 'occasionally'."

Crumb_onan

This blog has been your go-to source for cutting-edge reports on Germany's emerging culture of public masturbation, one of the most stimulating cultural enrichments the 2015 migrant wave brought us.

Italy has adopted a brand-new policy model to address this crisis-tunity: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Or maybe if you can beat 'em, join 'em. Alright, no more crude puns, cut to the news:

Masturbating in public, if it's out of the sight of minors, is not an illegal act, the Supreme Court of Italy has ruled in a case concerning a 69-year-old man who was caught masturbating on a bench in front of a group of college students.

A lower court had convicted the man, identified only as Pietro L, for performing the act in front of students on the University of Catania campus in southern Italy, sentencing him to three months in prison and ordering him to pay a fine of $3,600, according to documents filed with Supreme Court, CNN reports.

The highest court, La Corte di Cassazione, said in its ruling last week, that public masturbation out of the presence of minors is no longer a criminal act as the law had been amended last year.

According to the amended law, masturbation done in the presence of a minor is punishable with imprisonment of up to four-and-a-half years. However, the act might incurr an administrative fine even if not witnessed by a minor. The apex court has therefore sent Pietro's case back to local courts in Catania, and he will still be fined between $4,000 and $6,000.

Pietro told the court that he masturbated in the open only "occasionally," arguing that he was caught doing the act in "reduced visibility" around dusk in May 2015 and therefore it would have been hard for people to see him, according to Albuquerque Express.

The Supreme Court's decision, which was delivered in June but disclosed only last week, was criticized by opposition politicians in that country.

"The Renzi government has never given equal opportunities much notice, but to save from the prison cells people who commit obscene acts in front of women is really unjustifiable," Elvira Savino, a lawmaker from the Forza Italia Party, was quoted as saying. "The government's law is an invitation to every maniac to molest women."

In 2013, a court in Sweden also ruled that a man who masturbated publicly on a beach in Stockholm did not commit a criminal offense because he was not "pleasuring himself towards a specific person."

"For this to be a criminal offence it's required that the sexual molestation was directed towards one or more people. I think the court's judgement is reasonable," public prosecutor Olof Vrethammar responded at the time, according to The Independent. "The district court has made a judgment on this case. With that we can conclude that it is okay to masturbate on the beach."


Nobody, Not Even You, Really Cares about Mass Surveillance

One reason why German journalism is often so naive is that many journalists seem never to have been trained to skeptically evaluate underdog stories. The German presumed-underdog list includes: Indian farmers, Palestinians, American death row inmates, African sharecroppers, artists, writers, indigenous/minority activists, human-rights lawyers, small-time entrepreneurs, folk healers, slum dwellers, etc. When interviewing an underdog, German journalists never critically question anything that person says, nor do they check that his behavior actually conforms to his claimed principles.
 
Another case in point: German magazine Der Spiegel filed a criminal complaint (g) claiming it has been subject to illegal mass surveillance by the NSA and other agencies, and asking the federal prosecutor of Germany to investigate the allegations. The German federal prosecutor announced it will take no action, meaning the case won't proceed. They cited a 'lack of concrete evidence' to back up the editors' suspicions. The editors are angry, but this is not big news in Germany.
 
Despite what you may have read, the majority Europeans and Americans don't really care about mass surveillance. They claim to, but the empirical social scientists' mantra is:
 
Stated preferences are meaningless, revealed preferences are not.
 
A revealed preference for maximal privacy would involve people encrypting all their communications. But they don't. Why download some app and think up yet another password when you have no proof you're being overheard, and even if you were, you would never know, and would never meet the person who heard your call, and even if you did, that person would never mention it? If you are not willing to incur any inconvenience or cost to realize your stated preference (100% privacy), you reveal that you don't really care about it as much as you claim to.
 
Voting behavior shows this as well. Germans claim to be deeply concerned about NSA spying, but the majority vote for parties which either endorse and cooperate with the spying, remain silent about it, or who mouth lip-service about how much they disapprove without ever actually doing anything.
 
German internet start-ups have repeatedly tried to profit from a model which promises supposedly privacy-obsessed German users 100% privacy and no data sales to corporations, but they have all been crushed by Facebook, Twitter, and others.
 
I could provide more examples, but you get the point. And one reason there is no genuine revealed preference for more privacy is because there have been almost no abuses. Intelligence agencies promise us that they don't care about and don't listen to the vast bulk of the data; they have algorithms that look for interesting stuff and they focus only on that. They also promise they haven't shared the data with anyone outside the law-enforcement community.

And so far, they have kept their promises, as far as anyone knows. There haven't been any stories I can find of the NSA blackmailing some ordinary citizen with recordings of his calls to his mistress, or of NSA leaking sexy pictures to the tabloids. Of course, you can always argue this is all going on in secret, etc., but things like this generally come to light. And they're apparently not happening.
 
Meanwhile, no matter what European governments say, their law-enforcement agencies eagerly accept the help of the NSA:
While normal wiretaps and mobile phone surveillance can be done by small intelligence and police services such as those in Belgium, grabbing huge amounts of phone data and electronic signal intelligence — and rapidly processing it — was beyond their capabilities.

The Belgian authorities knew they needed help, and had made a decision, which has not been previously reported, to involve an ally with a vested interest in dismantling a dangerous ISIS network: They called on the US National Security Agency (NSA).

The two officials described the scene at the funeral, where a known suspect was filming on his cell phone: “The guy is filming on a smartphone — that tells us he’s going to send that file to someone, right?” the security service source said. “We had the NSA hit that phone very hard.”

The NSA refused to comment on the operation, but a spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence forwarded an article in which James Clapper said: “The NATO Alliance faces an increasingly complex, diffuse threat environment. Consequently, we are always striving toward more integrated intelligence to stay a step ahead.”

On March 15, just a few days after the funeral, Belgian police made a move based on the information they had garnered from the NSA. Alongside French investigators, they raided an apartment in the Brussels neighborhood of Forest. It ended in a firefight; four officers were wounded and one of the occupants was killed. But investigators learned from fingerprint and DNA evidence that Abdeslam and a co-conspirator, Mohamed Abrini, had been there, although the two men escaped over city rooftops during the shoot-out.

It was an embarrassing blow to the investigation, but the NSA was at least now helping the Belgians track the suspects via their phones. Having lost his safe house, Abdeslam was forced to move around and communicate with people outside his rapidly shrinking network. Abdeslam and Abrini called a friend searching for a new place to hide out.

That’s when, according to the military intelligence official, they got him: “Finally … we have this asshole.”

If you polled Europeans on whether it was right for the Belgian authorities to enlist the help of the supposedly infamous and hated NSA to catch a terrorist fugitive, 70-80% would say 'yes'. The number would probably be even higher among French and Belgian people.

Ordinary people have no problem with their communications being monitored, as long as (1) they don't know it's happening and no abuses come to light; and (2) the authorities can claim some legitimate purpose for doing so. You may find this apathy reassuring, you may find it appalling (this is not a normative argument about whether surveillance is good or bad), but it is the case.

If I were designing a remedial training course for journalists, one of the key lessons would be to always, always perform an independent check to see if your subject's revealed preferences line up with their stated preferences. Even if your subject is (what you consider to be an) underdog. Especially if he's an underdog.


Europe, the USA, and the Death Penalty: 13 Slides to Collect and Trade with your Friends

I'm off to Vienna in a few days to talk about the death penalty. Specifically, why Europe got rid of it and why the USA still (just barely) has it. Here are the slides I'm working on right now, in case anyone's interested. If the hive mind spots any errors or has any suggestions, comments are eagerly welcome!

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Paul Berman Finally Makes Some Good Points

Paul Berman, eager supporter of the Iraq War, has a lot to answer for. But in this essay in The Tablet, on how Americans see the French veil/burkini debate, he makes up for some of his past grievous idiocies:

The assumption is that France wants to regulate Islamic attire because the French are fundamentally biased against their Muslim minority. The French are frightened of the “Other.” They are unrepentant in their imperialist and colonialist hatreds for the peoples of North Africa. They are, in short, hopelessly racist. Worse: The French left is just as bad as the French right in these regards, and the Socialist Party, as exemplified lately by the prime minister, Manuel Valls, is especially bad.

And yet, the American interpretation acknowledges a complicating point, which is this: The French, who are hopelessly racist, do not appear to believe they are hopelessly racist. On the contrary, they have talked themselves into the belief that, in setting out to regulate Islamic attire, they are acting in exceptionally high-minded ways—indeed, are acting in accordance with a principle so grand and lofty that French people alone are capable of understanding it.

This principle is a French absurdity that, in its loftiness, cannot even be stated in down-to-earth English, but can only be expressed with an incomprehensible, untranslatable and unpronounceable French locution, which is laïcité. Over the years, the word laïcité has figured repeatedly in the American commentaries. The French, we are told, invoke this word to defend their unjustifiable and racist persecutions. And yet, like all words that are untranslatable and incomprehensible, laïcité turns out merely to be a cover. It is a ten-dollar word employed to justify France’s fear of the “Other”; France’s zeal for maintaining the racial superiority of the non-Muslim French; France’s enduring imperialist and colonialist hatred for native peoples; France’s obsession with telling women what to do; and generally France’s urge to be parochial, petty, ultraconservative, and intolerant....

The French controversy over the veil—which, in the French debate, has meant the Islamic headscarf or hijab, too—got underway not with the arrival of the Muslim immigrants, but with the arrival of the Islamists. This was in 1989. Schoolgirls in the town of Creil, outside Paris, began to insist on their right to wear the Islamic veil in school. This was unprecedented, and the school authorities forbade it. The schoolgirls insisted, even so. And the question of how to interpret this dispute became, very quickly, a national debate in France, with plausible arguments on both sides.

To wit, pro-veil: Shouldn’t a woman and even a schoolgirl have the right to dress in accordance with her own religious conscience? Isn’t religious attire a matter of individual right and religious freedom? More: If Muslim schoolgirls are displaying fidelity to their own religion and its traditions, shouldn’t this be deemed an enrichment of the broader French culture? Shouldn’t the French welcome the arrival of a new kind of piety? And if, instead, the French refuse to welcome, shouldn’t their refusal be seen as the actual problem—not the pious immigrant schoolgirls, but the anti-immigrant bigots?

To which the anti-veil argument replied: No, the veil has been brought into the schools as a maneuver by a radical movement to impose its dress code. The veil is a proselytizing device, intended to intimidate the Muslim schoolgirls and to claim a zone of Islamist power within the school. And the dress code is the beginning of something larger, which is the Islamist campaign to impose a dangerous new political program on the public school curriculum in France. This is the campaign that has led students in the suburban immigrant schools to make a series of new demands—the demand that Rousseau and certain other writers no longer be taught; the demand that France’s national curriculum on WWII, with its emphasis on lessons of the Holocaust, be abandoned; the demand that France’s curricular interpretation of Middle Eastern history no longer be taught; the demand that co-ed gym classes no longer be held, and so forth. The wearing of veils in the schools, then—this is the beginning of a larger campaign to impose an Islamist worldview on the Muslim immigrants, and to force the rest of society to step aside and allow the Islamists to have their way. From this standpoint, opposition to the veil is a defense of the schools, and it is a defense of freedom and civilization in France, and it is not an anti-immigrant policy.

The French have engaged in a very vigorous and nuanced public debate over these matters. And yet, for some reason, in the reporting by American journalists and commentators, the nuances tend to disappear, and the dispute is almost always presented in its pro-veil version, as if it were an argument between individual religious freedom and anti-immigrant bigots, and not anything else. To report both sides of the dispute ought not to be so hard, however. The French government held formal hearings on these questions, with both sides represented. It was just that, once the hearings were over, the anti-veil side was deemed to have been more persuasive. Crucially influential were Muslim schoolgirls who, given the chance to speak, testified that, in the schools, Islamist proselytizers had become a menace to girls like themselves. And the National Assembly passed a law banning the Islamic veil, along with all “ostentatious” religious symbols, from the schools. The purpose of this law was not to suppress Islam. Students could continue to wear discreet symbols in school, according to the new law, and anything they wanted, outside of school. But ostentatious symbols were banned from the schools, in the hope of putting a damper on the Islamist proselytizing....

What about laïcité, then—this French concept that gets invoked in the debate, yet cannot even be expressed in English? In reality,laïcité is entirely translatable. It means secularism. There is no reason for English speakers to use the French word. And the concept is perfectly comprehensible. It is the Jeffersonian principle of a wall between church and state, in its French version. The Jeffersonian principle in America means that, regardless of what the churches may do or say, the American state will remain strictly nonreligious. The French version is the same. The public schools, for instance, must not become creatures of the churches—which, in our present situation, means the Islamist imams.

It is true that, in France, people take their secularism a little further than Americans tend to do, and this is partly on historical grounds. In America, we worry about freedom of religion, but in France, where everyone remembers the Catholic past and the religious wars, people worry about freedom from religion. They do not want to be tyrannized by theological fanatics. The Islamist movement is, from this point of view, all too familiar to the French—one more clericalist current that wishes to imposes its theological doctrines on everyone else. And, in the face of the Islamist fanaticism, the French are grateful for their secularist traditions and laws.

Then again, the French take their secularism a little further than we Americans do also because they are willing to grant government a larger administrative role than Americans tend to do. Americans are allergic to government regulation, or pretend to be, but the French do not even pretend to be. I realize that a great many Americans believe that, as a result of the French willingness to accept government regulation, France has become an impoverished Communist despotism. But have you been to France? Perhaps it is true that labor regulations have lately become an obstacle to high employment. Even so, France is, in many respects, a better-run country than the United States. And the French naturally look to the government to apply secularist principles even in areas of life that Americans might regard as outside the zone of government, local or national. The permissibility of religious attire, for instance. And the French see something attractive in their government regulations.


Xenophobia and Racism Overcrowding Germany's Prisons

Welcome to the next installment of an occasional series I like to call Sartor Resartus, in which I report about Germany the way Germans report about the USA:

Xenophobic and Racist Judicial System Leads to Foreigners Overcrowding German Prisons

By Sartor Resartus

STUTTGART (SR Press Agency) -- According to a recent study released by the Justice Ministry of Germany's third-most-populous state, Baden-Württemberg, almost half of the prisoners in its jails are now foreigners, even though foreigners make up just over 10% of the population of that state.

A recent report in the newspaper Die Welt provides the numbers: "Conditions are particularly cramped in prisons: there, 6170 prisoners live in a system designed to hold only 6087 people as of June 2016.... The share of foreigners was 37 percent in 2014, 39 percent in 2015, and 44.6% in March of this year among the 6948 prisoners then in the system." Justice Minister Guido Wolf, a member of the Christian Democratic Union, described the increased in foreign prisoners as a result of the "refugee influx".

Andrew Hammel, a self-proclaimed expert on Germany's legal system whose opinions I will quote extensively without challenge and without seeking an opposing view, said: "Although the number of foreigners living in Baden-Württemberg is only 12%, they make up nearly half of the prison population. This clearly shows a pattern of discriminatory and disproportionate enforcement targeting 'the other'. I've spoken to numerous foreigners who report a pattern of police harassment for trivial or non-existent offenses. German judges, prosecutors, and police are also overwhelmingly ethnic German, and persons of foreign ancestry are under-represented in these positions. This means that they single out foreigners, whether consciously or not, for harsher treatment. This highlights Germany's dark historical legacy, and makes a mockery of the equality proclaimed in the German Basic Law."

What is particularly appalling, Hammel continued, is that "many are refugees. They came to Germany fleeing war and poverty, and now they find themselves mistreated by a justice system that sees them only as a problem and a threat."

In the company of a local activist from the Grey Wolves Turkish social movement, I visited a German prison and talked to some of the inmates. Here, in their own words, unedited and unverified, are their accounts of bias and abuse. The fact that these accounts are unconfirmed, sometimes outlandish, and come from people who have a motive to lie doesn't change the fact that they highlight the grave problems...