The murder rate rose 30% last year, mainly in progressive strongholds. Is political dark money to blame?

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Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash.

According the FBI, the murder rate in the U.S. rose by a jaw-dropping 30% last year. It was the largest single-year jump since the agency started tracking six decades ago.

Optimists, but only Democratic Party optimists, insist the spike in violent and property crime, not just murder, is due to COVID-19. This theory ignores, as other optimists refuse to do, the inconvenient fact that most other countries experienced a drop in crime rates during the same time period.

The falling crime rate makes more rational sense, given the mitigation measures taken to combat COVID-19 in the U.S. Weren’t most of us staying home more last year?

Nor has the entire country experienced the same spike. Some places- like Portland, New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco have experienced much larger spikes. Some areas, much smaller.

The rise in crime doesn’t correspond with the impact of COVID-19 in communities, either. Florida isn’t having a big crime problem; Seattle is.

The squirm-inducing idea that the 2020/2021 spike in violent crime happened in spite of COVID-19 rather than because of it isn’t likely to magically go away any more than the troubling recent rise in inflation. Democrats may hope these twin terrors- higher prices and higher crime- are going to disappear in time for the mid-terms.

But many are losing hope.

One factor which might be contributing to the rising crime rates in some places versus others is a criminal justice reform experiment taking place in progressive strongholds.

In places where Democrats have a safe majority- like Chicago, NYC, and Portland- progressive prosecutors, backed by Democratic mega-donors and progressive dark money groups like Arabella, are quietly taking the law into their own hands.

The way the government is supposed to work, the way the constitution intended it to work, is what we all learned in primary school; the legislative branch makes the laws, the judicial branch interprets the laws, and the executive branch enforces the laws.

Progressive prosecutors like Chicago’s Kim Foxx have discovered a clever hack, an end-run around the pesky problems of checks, balances and Democracy. Getting laws passed is hard; it requires compromise and hard work. It takes years to reach a consensus.

Getting prosecutors elected is easy. When those prosecutors pick and choose which laws to uphold, and which criminals to prosecute, they can circumvent both other branches of government.

The legislative branch can pass all the laws it likes; if city and state prosecutors won’t pursue legal cases against people who break those laws, it hardly matters. Police officers can enforce all the laws they want by arresting criminal suspects; if the city prosecutor won’t pursue a legal case against the accused criminal, they walk- guilty or innocent.

Chicago’s Kim Foxx recently refused to prosecute five people involved in a shoot-out which killed one person. The reason? “Mutual combat.” Foxx’s office refused to even arrest the police’s suspect in the shooting death of 7-year old Serenity Broughton, who was killed during another episode of “mutual combat,” in which she presumably wasn’t one of the combatants.

Neither was her sister, who was critically wounded during the same gunfight.

Whether or not any of this is a good idea remains to be seen. If a sign of a successful policy is a sharp rise in crime rates, it seems to have delivered in spades.

As it turns out, getting progressive prosecutors in place was indeed the only the easy part. Unilaterally enacting progressive policies on crime in a non-legislative, ultra-judicial way has had the predictable side-effects of worsening crime in the short term- and badly.

In hammering out legislation, on a state or federal level, other perspectives might have pointed out the obvious flaws in such a strategy.

It isn’t that progressive prosecutors aren’t a good idea; it’s that holding them to a standard of not prosecuting criminals was bound to produce an equal and opposite reaction to the standard which tied the U.S. criminal justice system in knots in the first place.

These new progressive prosecutors, unlike their conservative counterparts who had the opposite problem, are under tremendous pressure to keep people out of jail.

But that’s all; no rehab, no social services, no intervention, no community organization support. No other deliverables about neighborhood crime, recidivism, rehabilitation- nothing.

When prosecutors were under pressure to put people in jail, that is exactly what they did. And that’s all they did. The result is an overburdened criminal justice system and a country which still incarcerates more of its citizens than any other on earth.

What would the result be from the opposite policy?

The opposite policy- just don’t put people in jail- was bound to lead to rise in criminality. Without addressing the underlying problems that lead to violent crime- and without taking the easy progressive cop-out of blaming everything on guns- progressives are setting themselves up for failure.

And worse, it is a failure that everyone living in these crime-afflicted areas can see and experience for themselves.

These new policies, and the progressive prosecutors who are enacting them nationwide in progressive strongholds like Minneapolis, Chicago and New York City, aren’t an undoing of the poor criminal justice policies of yesterday.

They are merely exposing the other side of the same dysfunctional coin.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)