Monthly Archive: May 2021

Defunding the Police: an Evidence-Based Approach?

In the months following the death of George Floyd, there have been an increasing number of protests aimed at taking a stand against police brutality and “defunding” the police. The slogan “defund the police” has since been adopted by various activist groups and is now being seriously debated by politicians and lawmakers across the country. Despite the fact that Americans are mixed on whether they support the idea, the slogan has nonetheless become an increasingly popular political talking point. While the argument that America’s police departments are in need of reform is not without merit, that does not mean that defunding the police is the answer.

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The Portland Poll on Public Order

Another result of the Oregonian poll, noted in my previous post, is reported here.  It describes further consequences of police pull-back:

Residents across the metro area say downtown Portland has become dirty, unsafe and uninviting and many anticipate visiting the city’s core less often after the pandemic than they did before.

Those are the worrisome findings of a new poll of 600 people in the Portland metro area commissioned by The Oregonian/OregonLive. Asked for their perceptions of downtown, respondents frequently used words like “destroyed,” “trashed,” “riots” and “sad.” Many cited homelessness as a particular issue, and said there is an urgent need for the city to find housing and support people living on the street.

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Amid calls to ‘defund the police,’ most Portland residents want police presence maintained or increased, poll finds

Now for a balancing bit of good news. Shane Kavanaugh has this article with the above title in the Oregonion.

Nearly a year after “defund the police” became a racial justice rallying cry in Portland and across the U.S., a vast majority of Portlanders and those living in the metro area reject the call to diminish police presence in the city. Continue reading . . .

Big Disappointment in Philadelphia

In a few spots, there are some encouraging signs that Americans are starting to come out of the mass hallucination that going soft on crime is somehow going to help social problems. Philadelphia, regrettably, is not there yet. In yesterday’s primary, Democratic voters renominated pro-criminal District Attorney Larry Krasner by a 2-to-1 margin over pro-law-enforcement challenger Carlos Vega. Continue reading . . .

Effects of ‘Defunding’ Law Enforcement and Reducing Consequences for Crimes

The Wall Street Journal has this article by Jason Riley addressing a few early outcomes we are seeing as a result of lowering prosecution rates and defunding law enforcement in many large cities across the U.S. Riley points out the following:

In New York City, shooting and homicides rose by 97% and 44%, respectively, in 2020, and felony assaults are up by 25% this year. Yet seven of the eight candidates running in the Democratic primary for Manhattan district attorney have pledged to cut the police budget or prosecute fewer suspects—or some combination of the two. Baltimore began defunding law enforcement and turning a blind eye to criminal behavior a decade ago, and since then nearly 3,000 of its residents have been murdered. 


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The Pandemic Does Not Explain The Spike in Violent Crime

For decades, anti-sentencing advocates have blamed poverty, economic conditions, demographics, racism, and firearms for increases in crime rather than on the criminals themselves and weak policies that enable criminal behavior.  After 2020, the pandemic has been added to the list.  As reported in Hans Bader’s article in Liberty Unyielding,  Professor John Pfaff, “America’s most famous advocate of cutting sentences for violent criminals,”  suggests that one reason for the unprecedented increase in shootings in New York City was the pandemic which upended the economy.   Professor Pfaff was responding to a recent article in Politico which noted that “gun violence escalates throughout the city (of New York) one year after anti-police protesters occupied the street.”

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Supreme Court Takes Up Capital Habeas Corpus Case

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning decided to take up for full briefing and argument the Arizona capital habeas corpus case of Shinn v. Ramirez, No. 20-1009.

The case involves the interaction between the Court’s “equitable exception” to the procedural default rule in Martinez v. Ryan and one of the lesser-known habeas reforms of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2). Continue reading . . .

Supreme Court Limits “Caretaking” Searches and Seizures in Home

The U.S. Supreme Court today decided Caniglia v. Strom, No. 20-157:

Decades ago, this Court held that a warrantless search of an impounded vehicle for an unsecured firearm did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Cady v. Dombrowski, 413 U. S. 433 (1973). In reaching this conclusion, the Court observed that police officers who patrol the “public highways” are often called to discharge noncriminal “community care-taking functions,” such as responding to disabled vehicles or investigating accidents. Id., at 441. The question today is whether Cady’s acknowledgment of these “caretaking” duties creates a standalone doctrine that justifies warrantless searches and seizures in the home. It does not. Continue reading . . .