Monthly Archive: June 2021

A Tale of Two District Attorneys

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.

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Crime and Homelessness Driving Out San Francisco Residents

Mark Calvey of The San Francisco Business Times has this story discussing a survey of City residents measuring their overall concerns about their environment. The article states the following:

Amid sharply rising concerns about crime and quality-of-life issues, 44% of respondents to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s annual CityBeat poll say they intend to leave the city in the next few years. The CityBeat survey found that homelessness and “street behavior” is a top concern for 65% of respondents, with crime and open-air drug-dealing a top concern for 46%. Longstanding problems facing San Francisco residents — housing affordability and cost of living — were far behind, cited as top concerns by 19% and 10%, respectively. 

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Detention of Illegally Re-Entering Aliens

The U.S. Supreme Court issued three decisions today as it wraps up its October 2020 term. The one marginally crime-related case is Johnson v. Guzman Chavez, No. 19-987. The case involves the detention pending deportation of aliens previously deported who illegally re-enter the United States. Such re-entry is a crime, a more serious one than first-time illegal entry. The holding is that such aliens are subject to the more stringent of two statutes on detention pending deportation, rather than the more lenient one with more leeway for release on bond or conditional parole. Continue reading . . .

Using Prosecutorial Discretion to Negate Law

In a City Journal article former District Attorney Thomas Hogan notes that progressive DAs are abusing their discretion to set countywide policies to prevent the enforcement of laws enacted to discourage and punish crime.

Baltimore is not prosecuting shoplifting or drug-possession crimes. Despite recent violent protests and occupations, St. Louis is not pursuing cases for looting and rioting, while Portland isn’t pursuing charges for trespassing. Philadelphia won’t allow prostitution charges. San Francisco is not prosecuting indecent exposure offenses. Chicago declines arrests for thefts of less than $1,000.

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Supreme Court Sends Excessive Force Case Back to USCA8

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two summary decisions today. In Lombardo v. St. Louis, No. 20-391, the Court sent a case back to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, a procedure known as “grant, vacate, and remand” or GVR. The case involves the death in custody of likely suicidal prisoner who was very actively resisting officers’ attempts to subdue him. Ironically, they caused the very result he tried to inflict on himself–death by asphyxiation.

Quoting a 2015 precedent, the unsigned opinion for the majority says that deciding claims such as these “requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case.” See the problem here? Continue reading . . .

California’s Crime Rates Reflect Dangerous State Policies

Katy Grimes of the California Globe has this story discussing what is making California’s cities more dangerous with recent data on crime rates.  Grimes mentions a few of the propositions that have impacted crime over the last decade. 

Proposition 47 largely decriminalized theft and drug crimes by reducing those crimes and a number of other “non-violent” felonies to misdemeanors; Prop. 57 allows early release for “non-violent offenders,” including rape by intoxication of an unconscious person, human trafficking involving a sex act with minors, arson causing great bodily harm, drive-by shooting, assault with a deadly weapon, and hostage taking. 

However, there is one bill that was not highlighted.  AB 109 signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2011 which allowed for the release approximately 30,000 felons from state prison with most going on probation rather than parole. This bill removed the option of prison sentences for crimes such as auto theft, drug felonies and domestic violence and replaced it with county jail time or rehabilitation services. 

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The future of crime data in policing

January 1, 2021 marked the end of an era when the FBI officially retired the nearly 100-year old Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system in lieu of a more comprehensive option known as the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The UCR, otherwise referred to as “simple summary reporting” (SRS) was introduced in 1929, and essentially reported aggregated counts of crimes at monthly and yearly intervals for participating law enforcement agencies. NIBRS was introduced in 1982 in an attempt to modernize the UCR, emphasizing incident-level data collection rather than aggregate-level. The purpose of this was to provide more detail and context about each incident (e.g. details on victims or offenders of crime, characteristics of the incident) to improve crime data quality (and quantity). The comprehensive data collected via NIBRS would allow for more opportunities to analyze patterns of crime and apply it to the field. However, one downside of NIBRS is that data are more burdensome for law enforcement agencies to collect. Further, participation in both UCR and NIBRS is voluntary for law enforcement agencies, meaning that additional burden might affect participation rates. Not surprisingly, participation rates are typically higher for the UCR, making it the preferred official source for reported crime data up until very recently. Continue reading . . .

Joe Biden’s Senior Moment in Trying to Deal with Surging Violent Crime

Pres. Biden was older when he took office than Ronald Reagan was when he left.  It’s not exactly a secret that older people can have problems with forgetfulness.  Pres. Biden seems to be having such a moment in his attempts, summarized here and here, to come up with an answer to the dramatic rise in violent crime (a rise that started under his predecessor last year but has continued full throttle during Biden’s tenure).

On the other hand, perhaps it’s not so much that Biden can’t remember how to deal with crime effectively  —  a project he helped advance as a senator 25 years ago  —  as it is that, given the radical leftward shift in the Democratic Party, he can’t afford to remember.  Instead, he has to pretend that the Left’s reality-free narrative  —  a jazzed-up version of the failed soft-on-crime policies of the Sixties and Seventies  —  is the answer.

It isn’t.  It’s pathetic.  And it will cost lives, disproportionately  —  as is always the case with violent crime  —  black lives.

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President Biden’s Pitiful Response to Rising Crime

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.

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