There were nearly three times as many homicides in Washington, DC last month than there were deaths due to Covid-19, and as reported by Greg Norman of Fox News, some of the city’s government leaders think a change in priorities is in order. “We’re in a pandemic right now when it comes to crime in this community and we got to start acting it,” City Councilman Trayon White told reporters, following the death of the six-year-old girl killed while riding her scooter in a shooting that also injured her mother and several others. Ten people were shot at one incident in Queens New York over the weekend, while five people were shot on Bourbon Street, in New Orleans Saturday night. In Chicago, seven were killed and 48 were wounded over the weekend.
Author: Michael Rushford
With the unprecedented surge in shootings and homicides in California over the past two years, you would think that even the state’s woke, progressive political class would take action to crack down on criminal firearm use. Nope.
Michele Hanisee, veteran prosecutor and President of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys in Los Angeles has this piece explaining how progressive LA Country District Attorney George Gascón and the politicians in Sacramento want to decriminalize the use of firearms by criminals at the same time the “LA County Sheriff has reported a stunning 111 percent increase in homicides from January 1, 2021, to May 21, 2021.” Most of the murder victims were shot. Hanisee notes that policies reducing penalties for crimes enacted in Sacramento and ordered by Gascón, not the increase in legal firearm sales that liberal politicians decry, is causing the skyrocketing increase in shootings and homicides in California.
It has become apparent over the past several years that many of those devoted to the progressive movement taking over the Democrat party are divorced from reality and ignorant of history. This is particularly true when it comes to criminal justice policy. In 1994, more than twice as many Californians were victims of violent crime than in 2011. Murders in the Golden State dropped by 60% during that period. There were comparable reductions in New York, Texas, Illinois, Florida and most other states. There have been mountains of research devoted to finding out why this occurred. Perhaps the best compilation of data on this phenomenon is Professor Barry Latzer’s 2016 book, The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America. Latzer concluded that while differences in culture between different racial and ethic groups have historically influenced crime rates, societies’ response to crime plays a major roll in the level of violent crime. In the mid-1990s Americans of every racial and ethnic group demanded a stronger law enforcement response to the criminals dominating its cities during the crime wave of the 1970s and 1980s. That stronger response, including major improvements in policing, delivered two decades of vastly safer cities and neighborhoods, disproportionately benefiting to those living in high-crime urban neighborhoods. None of the thousands of young adults who joined the Black Lives Matter protests last summer know anything about this.
Fatal drug overdoses set an all time record in 2020, with over 93,000 Americans dying. Just shy of a 30% increase compared to 2019. Maggie Fox of The Philadelphia Tribune quotes Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “This is the highest number of overdose deaths ever reported in a 12-month period. These data are chilling. The COVID-19 pandemic created a devastating collision of health crises in America.” The Dean of Public Health Practices at Johns Hopkins agreed; “The pandemic had a lot to do with it….but as the pandemic recedes, we are still dealing wit this overdose crisis.” The story went on to discuss the need for treatment programs and controls on over-prescribing doctors. Earlier this year a Washington Post story by Devlin Barrett reported that last year America saw the largest one-year increase in homicides since records have been kept. The story notes that the increase in murders was not limited to large cities. Small towns also saw increases of up to 30%. Experts suggested that the collapse of public confidence in police contributed to the increase, but that the pandemic also played a significant role. The head of the National Fraternal Order of Police suggested that changes in criminal justice policy which left more criminals on the street contributed, but that suggestion was discounted by a data analyst who explained that increased murders occurred in places where such reforms had not been implemented.
A City Journal piece by former District Attorney and defense lawyer Tom Hogan, explains why veteran prosecutors have recently been leaving DA’s Offices in large numbers. “Prosecutors are leaving the profession for several reasons, the first and most obvious being the new wave of progressives sweeping into office.” Hogan notes that in St. Louis where Soros-bankrolled progressive Kim Gardner was elected in 2017, turnover in her office exceeded 100% as her de-prosecution, no bail and short sentencing policies, along with her claims that the entire criminal justice system is racist, destroyed morale. He also notes that pro-criminal laws passed by liberal state legislatures, which prevent prosecutors from taking criminals off the streets and bury them in new procedures, and the current political climate which presumes that prosecutors are racists, are also contributing to the exodus of experienced prosecutors. “With violent crime surging in cities across the country, there couldn’t be a worse time to lose them.”
One of the most devastating changes to California law in recent years was Proposition 57, Jerry Brown’s “Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act,” adopted by voters in 2016. Everything about the initiative was a lie. It was not about public safety and rehabilitation, it was designed to release thousands of hardcore criminals from prison, years and sometimes decades early. Governor Brown claimed it would only allow non-violent criminals qualify for early release, but District Attorneys and the Courts determined that anyone, including criminals convicted of forcible rape and murder would qualify. The initiative also removed all control over who gets released early and how long a sentence they must serve from the legislature and placed it with the Governor and his Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Weeks ago the CDCR announced that it intended to make up to 76,000 prison inmates, including rapists and murderers serving life terms, eligible for parole and early release. This could not happen without Governor Gavin Newsom’s approval. 43 District Attorneys, led by Sacramento DA Anne Marie Schubert, are suing to block this policy.
In a stumbling, bumbling speech yesterday, President Joe Biden outlined his approach to the historic increases in violent crime across America. As reported by the New York Times Biden said “Crime historically rises during the summer. And as we emerge from this pandemic, the country opening back up again, the traditional summer spike may be more pronounced than it usually would be. For folks at home, here’s what you need to know. I’ve been at this a long time and there are things we know that work to reduce gun violence and violent crime and things that we don’t know about. But things we know about: Background checks for purchasing a firearm are important; ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines; community policing and programs that keep neighborhoods safe and keep folks out of trouble. These efforts work. They save lives.” Sorry Joe, but were not experiencing a “traditional summer spike” and the solutions you are proposing have never worked or saved any lives.
After a record number of shootings last year and 875 deaths, nearly twice as many as in 2019, violent crime in Chicago is on track to set a new record this year. According to Newsweek, there were 956 shootings in Chicago resulting in 185 deaths during the first quarter of 2021, a 14% increase in homicide compared to the same period last year. In the face of last year’s skyrocketing homicide rate and Black Lives Matter riots, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed cutting the police department’s budget by $59 million, while telling reporters that she does not support defunding the police as reported by CBS News. She has variously blamed Chicago’s shootings and murders on former President Trump, the Corona Virus, and gun laws in Indiana and Texas.
For the past few years there have been virtually no legal consequences for selling or using drugs in San Francisco. To address the thousands of addicts living and dying on the streets, city leaders have funded programs which visit the places where addicts congregate and hand out Narcan, a fentanyl antidote, and counsel addicts to shoot up with a partner to prevent an overdose. As reported by Amy Graff of SF Gate, fatal drug overdoses in San Francisco increased by 70% from 2018 to 2019, and by over 50% in 2020. Over the first quarter of 2021 fatal overdoses have increased by 39% as the city heads for another record-breaking year . Most of these deaths were caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid pouring across American’s southern border and is sold on the streets in every part of the country.
LA Times reporter Maura Dolan has this comprehensive piece on the California Supreme Court’s oral argument in People v. McDaniel. The question before the court is whether or not the law requires that a jury decide beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant should get the death penalty or life without parole, and the jury must also be unanimous in deciding the reasons for a capital verdict? This requirement has never been part of the law or any accepted precedent. If the court agreed, a ruling would probably throw out hundreds, if not all, previous death sentences in California. An important takeaway from yesterday’s argument was the questioning of the murderer’s lawyer by Justice Goodwin Liu, a key liberal member of the Court, who asked if it is possible “that this issue has simply been missed this entire time? For 150 years, we have missed this issue?”