For decades, the crime rate has been falling in most American cities. In 2003, the Los Angeles Times reacted to this happy news by proclaiming, “More People in Prison despite Drop in Crime.” Despite? Conservatives see the obvious − criminals who are locked up can’t commit crimes.
But liberals see no causal relation between higher incarceration rates and lower crime rates. They see nasty, mean conservatives who insist on locking up more people despite the lower crime rate − which dropped for unknown reasons.
But wait, it gets worse. Liberals repeat the mantra that poverty causes crime. If so, why did the crime rate continue to fall, despite the severe recession that began in 2008? This huge contradiction completely escaped the notice of so-called progressives. They blamed crime, which was falling, on the economic policies of the Bush administration. They acted as if crime were rising, then blamed conservatives. That’s a really neat trick.
It gets still worse. In 2014, the heavily Democratic voters of California passed Proposition 47, reducing many felonies to misdemeanors retroactively. (Ex post facto law? Who knows? Who cares?) As a result, about 3700 inmates have been released from prison, and more releases are planned. At the same time, figures show that for the first time in decades, the California crime rate is rising. And what does the Los Angeles Times, which favored the ballot measure, have to say? The best the editors could offer was that the results are “mixed.”
But what does “mixed” mean? It appears to mean that something “good” happened –3700 convicted felons were let loose on the public. And at the same time, something bad happened – the crime rate rose. But were these two events causally related? Would the Los Angeles Times now favor repeal of the measure? Are you joking?
No, crime is caused by “poverty,” though it continued to fall during the 2008 recession, and now it is rising, despite the Obama economic recovery. If facts and dogma conflict, change the facts.
And now a Los Angeles Times headline reads, “After a 12-year decline, crime in L.A. surges in first half of 2015.” What do the editors have to say about this bad news?
Part of that property crime increase, [Mayor] Garcetti said, may be linked to Proposition 47, the ballot measure that downgraded felony drug possession and thefts and resulted in the release of about 3,700 inmates from state prison.
Peter Moskos, a criminologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said it was too soon to say whether Proposition 47 was behind the increase in property crimes. Even if the initiative has contributed to the rise in property crimes, he said, the result may be an acceptable trade-off for taking a less strict approach toward relatively minor crimes.
“If there is huge money saved in incarceration, I think we can take an increase in property crimes,” Moskos said. [Emphasis added.]
In other words, liberals decided to reclassify some felonies as misdemeanors. They made this law retroactive, despite the fact that the Constitution expressly forbids ex post facto laws. Thus far they have let 3700 convicts out of prison. Now they are shocked – shocked! – to learn that both violent and property crimes are rising significantly.
Nevertheless, a professor claims it was worth it, because the money we saved on imprisonment may be more than the money we are losing because of increased crime. But who are we? The state is saving money on prison costs, which are already the highest in the nation. But individual human beings are being victimized by being assaulted or having their precious belongings burglarized from their homes.
This is a key failing of big-government advocates everywhere. They see “the masses” or “the people” as a homogeneous, amorphous lump, to which the self-anointed elite can do whatever they want in order to advance the leftist agenda. They fail to see individual human beings, each with DNA unlike anyone who ever lived or is ever likely to live, and each created in God’s image.
“We,” the bureaucrats, save money – or at least claim to save money – while the invisible “they” are victimized physically or financially. If there is a clearer illustration of authoritarian thought processes, I have yet to find it.
Here is an 89-year-old victim of a recent home-invasion robbery in the Los Angeles area. Does she look like an “acceptable trade-off” to you?
Not satisfied with releasing thousands of convicted felons before their terms of imprisonment were up, liberals went further. Earlier this year, Los Angeles Police stopped a black man for questioning because he was walking a block from a group of known gang members. The man refused police commands, then wrestled one officer to the ground, jumped on top of him, and attempted to grab the officer’s pistol. The officer managed to draw his backup gun and shoot the man, who later died.
Police Chief Beck determined that the shooting was justified. But the civilian Police Commission overruled Beck, declaring that even though the officer was fighting for his life, the shooting was unjustified, because the police didn’t have sufficient reason to stop the man in the first place. What punishment the officer will suffer has not yet been decided.
The police union strongly objected, referring to various court decisions justifying the officer’s actions. The union went on to point out the obvious: If officers must choose between losing their lives and losing their careers or their freedom, then proactive policing is dead. This is sure to happen when civilian overseers later bow to public pressure and condemn cops for implausible reasons,
Officers will continue to respond to 9-1-1 calls, then leave the scene as soon as possible. But they will not stop anyone on the street, no matter how suspicious his actions may be, and instead will turn their heads and drive away. And what effect, do you suppose, will that have on an already rising crime rate?
We appear to have forgotten that the primary function of government in general, and the Police Commission in particular, is to ensure public safety. This will not be achieved by discouraging the police and encouraging criminals.
In short, liberals have released thousands of convicted felons from prison, and at the same time have further hamstrung the police, even when police lives are clearly endangered. And now liberals profess to be baffled when the crime rate rises.
There are two types of ignorance. One is “I don’t know.” For example, I don’t know the value of pi to 10 decimal places. The other type of ignorance is “I don’t want to know.” Liberals’ bafflement at the rising crime rate falls into the second category. Willful ignorance is evidence of a closed mind – hardly what one might consider to be a liberal characteristic.
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