Monthly Archive: August 2022

AG Bonta’s Take on Crime in California

Last week California Attorney General Rob Bonta released state crime data for 2021.   In a statement to the press, Bonta noted that  violent and property crime rates “remain significantly below their historical highs,” then admitted that homicides increased 7% last year. This follows a 31% increase in homicides from 2019 to 2021. The largest single-year increase in state history.

Taking the Attorney General at his word that “Good data is a cornerstone of good public policy,” the latest Crime in California report strongly suggests that current policies are taking the state in the wrong direction.

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25 Years After Conviction, Oklahoma Executes Murderer

Oklahoma executed convicted murderer James Coddington this morning by lethal injection.  Stephanie Pagones of Fox News reports that Governor Kevin Stitt declined to commute Conddington’s death sentence yesterday, despite the murderer’s apology and the state parole board’s recommendation that his sentence be reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  A 2006 decision by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals describes how Coddington beat his friend, 73-year-old Albert Hale to death with a claw hammer and robbed him of $525 in order to buy cocaine.  Hale’s son found his body later that day and rushed him to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.  After murdering Hale, Coddington went on to commit least six armed robberies of gas stations and convenience stores across Oklahoma City.   Following his arrest, he admitted to the robberies and the murder.  His execution was the fifth Oklahoma has carried out since the state resumed enforcing the death penalty last year.

Cal. Legislature’s Rescue of Murderers Upheld

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón is engaged in an all-out effort to reduce the sentences of LA murderers. Among the beneficiaries of Gascón’s efforts is Scott Collins, who gunned down Fred Rose in 1992, stole his car, then drove the car to Fresno to use it in a drive-by shooting. For this he was justly sentenced to death, and the judgment has been upheld on both direct appeal and state habeas corpus.

Despite Gascón’s defection, there appeared to be a strong chance of stopping his intended miscarriage of justice until the murderer-friendly California Legislature came to his aid. Continue reading . . .

The myth of the “red state murder problem”

After declining for over two decades, homicides in the United States increased sharply in 2015 and 2016. This slowed a little bit in the years that followed, until another dramatic increase in homicides occurred in 2020. In fact, the 30% increase from 2019-2020 is the largest ever recorded. By 2021, homicides rose another 5%. This uptick was not as striking as the one seen in 2020, though the numbers were still higher than pre-2019.

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CA Law Prevents Kidnapper’s Murder Conviction

California’s Third District Court of Appeal has unanimously overturned the first degree murder conviction of a Sacramento man whose wife jumped from his pickup and died during his attempt to kidnap her.   The court’s ruling held that because the victim jumped from her husband’s truck while trying to escape him, under a recently enacted state law, he could not be held responsible for her death.   In 2018, the state legislature passed, and Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1437 into law.  As reported by Metropolitan News Enterprise, the measure eviscerated the state’s felony murder rule, which had for decades, allowed accomplices to a felony such as kidnapping to be charged with murder if someone died during the commission of the crime.  Under SB 1437, only the actual killer; someone who aided, participated in or solicited the murder; or was a major participant in the felony who acted with reckless indifference to human life, could be convicted of the murder.

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New York Takes Bold Action to Fight Crime

With crime and violence raging across the state of New York, including cities outside of the Big Apple like Albany and Rodchester, and with fatal fentanyl overdoses at epidemic levels, the state legislature it taking action.  Maydoon Khan of the Associated Press reports that Governor Kathy Hochul signed a new law this week to strike the word “inmate” from state law and replace it with “incarcerated person” in order to remove the stigma of serving time in prison or jail for criminal behavior.  The bill’s sponsor, Bronx Democrat Senator Gustavo Rivera, told reporters, “This is another concrete step our state is taking to make our criminal justice system one that focuses on rehabilitation, rather than relying solely on punishment.”  I bet millions of New Yorkers already feel safer because of this new law.  A linguistics professor at MIT compared calling a person in prison an inmate with calling an African American born into slavery a slave.  By changing the words “you help people better understand who they are and how they got to be where they are,” he said.

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Brutal CA Murderer Got Early Prison Release

The District Attorneys of Placer and Amador Counties told reporters Monday that a Sacramento man arrested for the July murder and dismemberment of an elderly North Highlands woman, gained early release from state prison after serving less than half of his sentence for previous crimes.  Rosalio Ahumada of the Sacramento Bee reports that habitual felon Darnell Erby is facing charges of aggravated murder and burglary for killing 77-year-old Pamela Garrett May, whose dismembered body was found in her home on July 19.  Over the past 20 years Erby had been convicted of 8 different crimes,  arrested 20 times, and had been unable to go more than two years without committing a serious felony.  Under California’s progressive sentencing reforms Erby actually became eligible for parole in 2018, a year after he was sentenced to 12 years for felony convictions in Placer and Amador County.  He was denied parole twice for criminal activity while in prison, but was granted parole in April of 2021.  Governor Jerry Brown’s Public Safety Realignment (AB 209) passed in 2011, and his George Soros-bankrolled Proposition 57, The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act, passed in 2016, made this murderer’s release possible.

New York’s bail “reform” and the negative impacts on public safety: Study

In recent years, many jurisdictions in the U.S. have taken steps to reform their cash bail systems due to concerns about fair treatment of defendants and potential disparities in release decisions. Though, there is no consensus about what should replace cash bail, and there are numerous concerns about the potential public safety risks associated with bail reform. Proponents of bail reform advocate for reducing or eliminating the use of monetary bail to reduce jail populations and reduce income disparities. However, opponents of bail reform argue that reforms have resulted in more defendants committing crimes while on pretrial release. To date, the research has been mixed regarding the impacts of different bail reform efforts, but newer research seems to be suggesting the obvious — that bail “reforms” are linked to increases in crime.

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Responses to Soros Op-Ed

As noted in this post, the WSJ recently published an op-ed by George Soros explaining why he has pumped money into the campaigns of progressive prosecutors and intends to continue doing so. This article naturally prompted many critical letters to the editor, and the WSJ has printed them over multiple days, which is somewhat unusual.

In today’s batch, the WSJ printed my letter, noting an example refuting Soros’s claim that the progressive policies are evidence based. The August 4 batch included letters from Thomas Hogan on recent research tying progressive prosecutors to increased homicides and from Hans Bader on the fallacy of Soros’s racial statistics (unfortunately chopped down in the editing process to omit essential support). Yesterday’s print edition has a letter from an LA police officer with anecdotal but significant evidence that criminals in LA believe they can commit crimes with impunity because of the LA DA’s policies.

54 Shot, Eight Dead in Chicago Last Weekend

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown acknowledged Monday that crime is spiking in every neighborhood in the city after another bloody weekend.  Lucy Collins of CNS News reports that among the shooting victims were two teenage boys who were approached on a sidewalk at 1:00 am.  A 29 -year-old man was shot and killed while riding a Chicago Transit Authority train early Saturday.  Last weekend 48 people were shot, five fatally as the city logs 399 murders so far this year.  This comes as police complain about a policy adopted in June that prohibits officers from chasing suspects unless they can prove that they believe the suspect had committed a felony or a class A misdemeanor.   Another new policy requires officers to call their supervisor for permission to pursue a suspect in their police car.  The brother of an 18-year-old murdered last summer wrote “I can tell you that criminals love the policy shift that’s taken place over the years in Chicago, where leaders have mistaken necessary criminal justice reform with soft-on-crime policies which are endangering the lives of residents from every neighborhood and demographic.”