Author: Michael Rushford

Judge Cancels Bail in Los Angeles

A Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge ruled last week that arrestees for non-violent felonies and misdemeanors must be released without bail.  CBS affiliate KCAL reports that Judge Lawrence Riff issued a preliminary injunction blocking judges from requiring bail for all but the most violent offenses.  The Jerry Brown appointee held that requiring bail for arrestees who cannot pay is a “serious constitutional violation.”  Among those who will be released without bail under this ruling are virtually all thieves, including car thieves, drug dealers, and most people who commit assaults, including domestic violence.  The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times praised the judge for bringing “back sanity in L.A.”  Did the Times miss the historic spike in crime that hit Los Angeles when bail was suspended in 2020?  That’s the same year that 56.4% of voters rejected zero bail (Proposition 25) at the November general election.

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The Law According to King George

In a surprising move announced Friday, progressive Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon’s office will be charging the three Chicago gang members arrested for the murders of three women in Beverly Crest last January, with special circumstance first-degree murder and enhancements.  Brie Stimson of Fox News reports that nine people were shot on the morning of January 28 by what police characterized as an ambush.  The three women killed and the accused shooters were all from the Chicago area.   This announcement is unusual because, since his election, District Attorney Gascon has forbidden his deputies from charging special circumstances and enhancements against murderers and other violent offenders.

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The Difference A Good District Attorney Makes

Following Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s decision to prosecute an ex-Marine Daniel Penny for subduing a deranged habitual felon on the subway, who died from the chokehold, 50,000 people have donated to Penny’s legal defense fund.  Michael Lee of Fox News reports that the fund has received $2.5 million since Penney was charged with second-degree manslaughter last Friday.  Along with the contributions, many New Yorkers thanked Penny for taking action to prevent violence on the city’s crime-plagued subways.  “My daughter rides those subways, Keep them safe,” wrote one donor.  “I would have wanted you on the subway if I were there,” wrote another.  Bragg’s decision came after protesters including Al Sharpton and progressive politicians ranging from the New York’s Mayor, members of the  City Council, the state legislature, and members of Congress demanded that the white man who choked the black criminal, with over 40 arrests, be charged with murder.  A no-brainer for the Soros-bankrolled District Attorney.   On the other side of the country, in progressive San Francisco, the District Attorney was faced with a similar case.

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Banning Traffic Stops to Cure Racism

Law enforcement groups are warning that cities across the country implementing policies to prohibit most traffic stops by police are going to result in a preventable increase in crime.  The New York Times reports that cities including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Berkeley, Lansing, Mich, Brooklyn Center, Minn, and the State of Virginia have adopted such policies.  The City of Los Angeles is also considering having unarmed civilians enforce “safety related traffic violations,” such as speeding according to the LA Times.

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DOJ To Prohibit Data-Based Policing

One of the most effective improvements to policing of the last fifty years has been the use of data to determine which neighborhoods are plagued with the most crime.  In the mid 1990s, law enforcement agencies in many U.S. cities, including New York and Los Angeles, were able to dramatically cut crime rates by targeting high crime areas with more police patrols and specialized units focused on gangs and illegal firearms.  Crime reporting and incident data has also helped focus government and private programs on the areas and populations most in need of services to improve their lives.  In its blind pursuit of “social justice” the Biden administration has determined that data-based policing is racist.  James Lynch of the Daily Caller reports that Department of Justice is proposing updating anti-discrimination guidelines which will prevent federal law enforcement from relying on crime statistics to catch criminals.

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Soros-Backed St. Louis Circuit Attorney Resigns

Kim Gardner, the progressive St. Louis Circuit Attorney whose campaign was bankrolled by uber-liberal billionaire George Soros announced that she would resign from office on June 1.  Susan El Khoury and Lauren Trager of KMOV report that Gardner is facing removal from office by the State Attorney General for willfully neglecting the duties of her office.  Gardner was first elected in 2016 as the city’s first black female Circuit Attorney, vowing to reform the office and restore social justice.  The main elements of her reform agenda has been to decline to prosecute thousands of cases and fail to assign prosecutors to serious criminal cases set for trial.  In April her office was held in contempt for failing to appear for the trial of a man accused of murder and another trial of a suspect charged with shooting an 11-year-old girl.  Gardner’s refusal to revoke bail even for habitual offenders who repeatedly violate bail conditions without any consequences became a major issue for her opponents. In February Daniel Riley, who had violated bail at least 50 times while awaiting trial for armed robbery, rammed his car at high speed into 16-year-old Janae Edmondson and another car, pinning her between both vehicles. Riley was driving without a license. The girl, who was in town for a volleyball tournament, lost both legs due to the accident.  The Attorney General says he will not wait for June 1 to remove Gardner from office.

No Second Chances for Victims of Repeat Chicago Killer

The mantra of death penalty opponents for all of my adult life has been Blackstone’s ratio:  “better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer.”  But what if one of the guilty allowed to escape is a murderer?   William Lee of the Chicago Tribune reports that last month the posterboy for compassionate release, Steven “Mustafa” Hawthorne, was arrested for the double murder of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.  In 1984, Hawthorne was convicted of killing two people and sentenced to life-without-the-possibility-of parole (LWOP).  Because he was 17-years-old at the time of the murders, Hawthorne was allowed to petition for re-sentencing  after the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama.  In 2017, based upon findings that he had been rehabilitated, Hawthorne was released from prison.   As noted by Hans Bader in Liberty Unyielding, the sentencing reform group Families Against Mandatory Minimums, celebrated Hawthorne’s release noting that “there are  too many people in Illinois serving long prison terms that don’t make communities safer.  More of them need the same chance that Steven got.”

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Soros-Bankrolled DA Facing Recall

A campaign  to recall progressive Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price has generated over 15,000 signatures toward a goal of 25,000 as reported by Rachel Schilke of the Washington Examiner.  Price, who assumed office in January, has implemented multiple progressive policies aimed to reduce sentences and substitute “healing” and programs for jail or prison sentences.  She has also fired 20 prosecutors and placed six others on administrative leave.  She sparked a backlash in March when her office offered a plea bargain to give accused murderer Delonzo Logwood a 15-year sentence for killing three people in a murder-for-hire scheme.   The judge in the case rejected the deal stating that Price provided no explanation for offering such a deal.  In most other CA counties a triple-murderer could receive a death sentence or life-without-the-possibility-of-parole.  Logwood’s trial begins this month.

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Manhunt For Illegal Alien Murderer of Texas Family

The man wanted for killing five members of a Cleveland, Texas family last Friday is an illegal alien who has been deported from the U.S. five times.  Danielle Wallace of Fox News reports that there is an $80,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Francisco Oropesa, a Mexican national identified by video at the scene of the execution-style murders of three women, a man and an eight-year-old boy.  Oropesa was also identified by some of the five other family members who survived the attack.  ICE reports that he was deported five times between 2009 and 2016.  In 2012, he was deported after serving time in jail for drunk driving.  Police told reporters that a member of the family had asked Oropesa to stop firing his rifle into the air late Friday night.  In response he walked into the neighbor’s home and began shooting.  Two of the female victims were murdered while lying on top of children to protect them.  Once again, while some politicians and the media will blame the gun for these killings, it was the refusal by Congress to fully secure the southern border that allowed the murderer to repeatedly enter the U.S.  Strict enforcement of immigration laws would have prevented this tragedy.

Racializing Crime

A little publicized 2021 public opinion survey by the Skeptic Research Center asked respondents to self identify as very conservative, conservative, moderate, liberal or very liberal.  The researchers then asked “how many unarmed black men were killed by police in 2019?”  20.28% of very conservatives believed that between 1,000 and 10,000 or more black men were killed by police.  13% of conservatives believed this.  25.8% of moderates thought so, while 38.7% of liberals and 53.5% of very liberal agreed.  In 2019, twenty-five unarmed black men were killed by police. The same survey asked “what percentage of people killed by police were black.”  The responses ranged from 60.4% from very liberal to 37.8% from conservatives.  Even the very conservatives thought 44.5% of those killed by police were black.  The actual percent was 24.9%.   How could so many people from all political stripes have been this wrong?  The fact is that for decades the public has been fed a steady diet of lies by liberal politicians and the mainstream media characterizing the police as racially-obsessed bigots randomly slaughtering innocent black men.   In an article from today’s City Journal, Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald painstakingly deconstructs this propaganda.

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