Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Don’t Blame Progressive Prosecutors for Rising Crime

By Bloomberg

More lenient policies don’t appear to be contributing to a crime wave in urban areas across the U.S.

Violent crime in urban America is rising. There have been 13.5% more homicides so far in 2021 compared to last year, across 84 cities, and the trend is widespread: Homicides are up in two-thirds of cities. The increase is real and worrisome.

Many observers say that progressive prosecutors are to blame for this rise, arguing that criminals are taking advantage of greater leniency to wreak havoc in their neighborhoods. It’s not a crazy hypothesis — criminals respond to incentives, just like everyone else — but recent research shows it is not true.

It’s worth asking what exactly progressive prosecutors are doing and why. In their view, they are trying to reduce the unnecessary harms of the criminal justice system. Their reforms include declining to prosecute many petty offenses, like trespassing and shoplifting; diverting more serious offenses, including drug crimes, to treatment instead of incarceration; and releasing more people who are awaiting trial rather than requesting bail and detaining them for weeks or months.

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