Runaway crime underscores need for reform.
One of the problems besetting the idealogical left is that some Bernie Sanders-supporting progressives aren’t really interested in getting political; not really.
They aren’t organizing on behalf of a political party. They are in fact organizing against it. They are political anarchists at heart.
The problem with these idealogical anarchists, is that, like the hard-left progressive movements of the past, they are much more concerned with burning it all down than starting over.
The French Revolutionaries went from calling themselves the “Committee of Public Safety,” to, “The Reign of Terror,” in under a year. Once they toppled the monarchy, however- and the aristocracy, and the landed gentry, and the upwardly-mobile wealthy merchant class- the successful coup d’état planners didn’t have a better system to replace the one they despised.
Today, the difference between rich and poor, the abysmal wealth gap, in France is every bit as bad as in Great Britain, where the monarchy remained relatively intact. The French Revolution might just as well never have happened.
The Bolsheviks in Russia did the Russian people a similar disservice when it executed the entire royal Romanov family down to the children.
After China’s Cultural Revolution, with its brutal public struggle sessions, many of the nation’s educated- including those who knew how to successfully farm the land in order to feed such a burgeoning population- were executed, imprisoned or exiled.
Once China was in the grips of massive starvation, the new proletariat leadership was forced to unearth as many educated “elites” from menial labor and prison camps as could be found before everyone starved to death.
The tearing down of old, outmoded and unjust systems is perhaps what the progressive movement is best at, historically; along with throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
The idea of reforming the American legal system’s dependence on cash bail is laudable, for instance; cash bail clearly favors the wealthy at the expense of letting poor people accused of crimes (who are innocent until proven guilty) languish in prison awaiting their day in court.
Simply eliminating cash bail- that is, letting every person, whatever crime they are accused of committing or the preponderance of evidence, simply walk free until their hearing- isn’t a reform.
It’s trading one problem for another.
America’s mass incarceration problem could be ended tomorrow with that level of simplicity; just open up the prisons and let everyone out.
One easy way to “change” criminal justice laws progressive critics argue are unjust and unfair, activists have found, is to elect city and district prosecutors who don’t enforce the law.
Via the method of refusing to bring charges against criminal defendants, progressive prosecutors can and do boast reductions in the number of people being sentenced to time in prison.
That strategy isn’t a solution, however; obviously, as San Francisco voters and voters in other areas like Minneapolis have just proven over the last few election cycles. It’s only a trade-off for another problem- this one far more visible than America’s over-burdened prison system.
Skyrocketing crime from Seattle to San Francisco to Chicago and New York City to Washington, D.C., has citizens, local law enforcement and elected officials struggling to cope with the rapid upsurge.
This upswing is coinciding with other major factors and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Since 2020, crime has been rising. Who can forget storefronts and whole city blocks boarded up for months at a time?
The FBI estimates that the U.S. homicide rate is up 29%. For cops, the homicide rate is up 59%.
As a result of these and many other factors, police departments in many major metro areas are experiencing higher crime at the same time they are forced to grapple with one of the worst staffing shortages in living memory.
Faced with sharply rising crime, under new pressure and scrutiny in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, grappling with massive protests, officers have retired, relocated to smaller areas, dropped out of the Police Academy.
In some places where, “Americans are more worried about crime than at any other time this century,” as CNN puts it, police departments have all they can handle to answer 911 calls.
With a, “Perfect Economic Storm Buffeting Biden,” as Asia Times put it this week, these rising crime trends are especially troubling.
“Ahead of U.S. midterms, Democrats struggle to find footing on violent crime,” reported Reuters on June 3, 2022, a little over a week before San Franciscans overwhelmingly voted to recall the city’s progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin.
“Boudin Recall Reveals Democrats’ Rift with Minority Voters,” wrote Susan Crabtree for Real Clear Politics today.
“We’re looking around, and a lot of the bodies that are stacking up, whether it’s from fentanyl or from violent assaults from folks who should not have been on our streets…are people of color,” Andrea Shorter, spokesperson for the Safer SF Without Boudin organization perhaps most responsible for driving the successful recall effort in San Francisco against Chesa Boudin, told Real Clear Politics.
“There’s this romantic notion of what being a progressive means versus the reality of policies that are not having a positive impact on our lives,” Short was quoted as saying. “When there are open-air drug markets in the Tenderloin — well, who’s getting hurt by that? We’re all getting hurt, but it’s mostly people of color that are hurt.”
Critics of Boudin, like Shorter, point out there have been more overdose deaths from fentanyl in San Francisco over the last year than deaths from COVID19.
While the city has taken great pains to combat the latter, virtually nothing has been done by Boudin’s office on the subject of fentanyl. Not one person was convicted last year by Chesa Boudin for selling fentanyl, though 500 people were killed in SF by the deadly new drug during the same period.
“Boudin lost nearly every heavily minority neighborhood in the city, except Mission District, which has historically served as the center of the Hispanic community but has been gentrified with the dot-com boom and young urban professionals moving into the area,” wrote Crabtree for RCP.
“A Democrat like me needs to say something many Democrats won’t like to hear,” wrote Garry South in Cal Matters on June 10, 2022. “The role of district attorneys in our criminal-justice system is to prosecute people who commit crimes.”
“DAs are public prosecutors, not public defenders,” South argued succinctly, adding, “we already have those. They defend those who break the law and can’t afford a lawyer, and their work is a necessary and important part of our system of justice.”
“The law doesn’t specify that DAs are stewards of the entire criminal-justice system, nor does it charge them with attempting to reform the parts they don’t like,” South added.
Typically, the warmer months tend to be higher crime months; colder weather keeps most criminals indoors along with everyone else.
As June turns into July, already overburdened law-enforcement agencies may soon find themselves facing a crisis and a public increasingly discontent with local elected officials who fail to keep the peace.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)