Mass Sentencing Reduction Bill

The new bill being floated in Congress is dangerous and the Crime & Consequences Blog, noting Senator Tom Cotton’s speech reports.

An excerpt.

Sen. Tom Cotton spoke on the Senate floor today to put the lie to the mass sentencing reduction bill supported by the Inside-the-Beltway Establishment. The bill’s backers include President Obama, Speaker Paul Ryan, Deputy Senate Majority Leader John Cornyn, Deputy Minority Leader Dick Durbin, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and prominent Republicans and Democrats such as Mike Lee and Corey Booker. If that is not The Establishment, there is no such thing as The Establishment.

Sen. Cotton doesn’t care. He is ready to spill the beans on sentencing “reform” no matter how powerful its supporters. He did so in his Senate speech today:

There is much debate about the wisdom of this bill. That is, like most bills we discuss in this chamber, a judgment call. But there cannot be debate over the facts of this bill. We have to be very clear on what this bill, by its own text, is designed to do.

Proponents of the bill often invoke four phrases to describe the felons to be released under the terms of the bill: “first-time,” “non-violent,” “low-level,” “drug possession” offenders. Yet none of those four descriptors is accurate.

Or, to be less polite than Sen. Cotton, the advocacy for this bill has been intentionally and repeatedly deceptive.

Sen. Cotton continued:

By its text, the bill will apply sentence reductions not to first-time offenders, but to repeat offenders-some many times over. These are felons who have made the conscious choice over and over again to commit crimes.

By its text, the bill will not just apply to so-called “non-violent offenders,” but to thousands of violent felons and armed career criminals who have used firearms in the course of their drug felonies or crimes of violence.

By its text, the bill will reduce sentences not for those convicted of simple possession, but for major drug traffickers, ones who deal in hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of heroin or thousands of pounds of marijuana. And let’s be clear: drug trafficking is not “non-violent,” as the bill’s proponents often claim. It’s an industry that’s built on an entire edifice of violence, stretching from the narcoterrorists of South America to the drug-deal enforcers on our city streets. If you think dealing drugs on a street corner while armed with a gun is a “non-violent” offense, you probably live in a rich suburb or a gated community.

By its text, this bill will apply to felons convicted as juveniles of murder, rape, assault, or other crimes for which they were justly tried as adults.

By its text, this bill will apply to repeat felons whose past crimes include kidnapping, carjacking, armed robbery, and other violent crimes.

By its text, this bill will make eligible for early release into America’s communities thousands of drug traffickers and other violent felons. And when we catch such criminals going forward, we won’t be able to keep them locked up for the same sentences.

Russia & Rome Meet in Cuba

Meeting between the Holy Father and the Russian Patriarch is the first in history since the split in the 11th Century, and could mean great things for the future, as reported by BBC News.

An excerpt.

Pope Francis will hold a historic first meeting with Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russian Orthodox Church, in Cuba next week.

The Russian Orthodox Church said the “persecution of Christians” would be the central theme of the meeting.

Pope Francis will stop over in Cuba on his way to Mexico.

It is the first papal meeting with a Russian Church head since the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity split in the 11th Century.

The meeting is due to take place at Havana airport, where the two leaders will sign a joint declaration.

Patriarch Kirill is due in Cuba for an official visit at the same time as Pope Francis’s stopover in Havana.

In a joint statement, the two churches said the meeting would “mark an important stage in relations between the two churches”.

They invited “all Christians to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits”.

Since becoming Pope in 2013, Pope Francis has called for better relations between the different branches of Christianity.

 

New York City Stopping Broken Windows Policing

Which will bring back the bad old days; liberals never learn from history, as this story from City Journal reports.

An excerpt.

The New York City Council is preparing to pass a package of bills that will radically change the way the city enforces and prosecutes “low-level” offenses, such as public consumption of alcohol, littering, and public urination. According to Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a “staggering” number of criminal summonses get issued for these types of “broken windows” crimes and violations—more than 350,000 in the 2014 alone. But what troubles Mark-Viverito about these figures isn’t the disorder that they represent but the potentially negative effects that receiving a summons can have on the lives of people who litter, drink from open containers, and urinate in public.

Currently, the police have the option to arrest someone openly drinking alcohol—an option they rarely exercise—and the guilty violator can receive a range of punishments, from a small fine to five days in jail. The new legislation entirely eliminates the possibility of arrest for public drinking, prescribing instead a maximum civil penalty of $25. The penalty can be contested, but it will not escalate even if ignored. At most, the unpaid fine could be sent into collection. Most of the punishments for public urination, littering, spitting, and violating park rules will be similarly reclassified as civil offenses.

In arguing for these changes, Mark-Viverito describes a justice system out of Kafka’s nightmares, “in which those accused of low-level non-violent offenses . . . face a permanent criminal record or jail time for behavior as minor as violating a parks rule.” In reality, people caught violating a parks rule are almost always given verbal warnings. Police may issue a criminal summons instructing the violator to appear before a judge. In the event that the summons is ignored, the court will issue a warrant for the violator’s arrest, which will be effected the next time he is stopped for committing an offense. He may then get locked up for a night. The prospect of a low-level offender spending any time in jail, then, is predicated on his committing a series of antisocial violations and ignoring a court date.

According to Mark-Viverito, though, and the many supporters of the reform package, virtually any enforcement of “quality of life” laws is annoying and inconvenient—and almost certainly racist, to boot. Brooklyn council member Jumaane Williams previously sponsored a bill to end enforcement of turnstile-jumping in the transit system, arguing that being arrested can be “very disruptive” and “cause financial hardship” to the arrestee. During the hearing on the current legislation, Williams asked Elizabeth Glazer of the mayor’s office of criminal justice, “How would you respond to advocates who believe that low level offenses such as ‘open container’ are charged improperly, to get communities of color entered into the criminal justice system?” Glazer rejected the idea that New York City is waging war on its minority population, affirming what the statistics demonstrate, that “summonses are issued in response to complaints.”

Council member Rory Lancman of Queens made what he apparently considered a prima facie argument demonstrating that quality-of-life enforcement in New York City is manifestly racist. “It cannot be ignored,” said Lancman, “that we are having this conversation in the context of extraordinary racial and ethnic disparity in policing in New York City.” He then cited the contrasting level of summonses between the 40th precinct in the Bronx and the 111th precinct in northeast Queens: in the 40th, which is 98 percent black and Hispanic, 270 summons were issued for every 100 residents between 2001 and 2013; in the 111th, which is 12 percent black and Hispanic, only 26 summons were issued for every 100 people over the same period.

These data reflect not a policing disparity but rather a disparity in the number of crimes committed. The 40th precinct had seven murders and 29 rapes in 2014, while the 111th had no murders and one rape. These discrepancies run the gamut down to the lowest misdemeanors. Lancman’s glib assertion of racist law enforcement overlooks the facts regarding crime in these neighborhoods.

Predictive Policing

Along with covering that subject, this great article from City Journal summarizes policing history with a focus on recent technology.

An excerpt.

Predictive policing used to be the future,” said career cop William Bratton, “and now it is the present.” In mid-May 2015, Bratton—the visionary former chief of police in Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, and currently again top cop in New York—was talking about his early days as an officer in Boston, about what worked and what didn’t, and about what can work better in the future. That future will involve predictive policing, which Bratton is bringing to New York (a pilot program was launched last summer).

Predictive policing, which Bratton helped develop when he headed the Los Angeles Police Department during the 2000s, seeks not just to fight crime but to anticipate and prevent it. It uses cutting-edge technology and Big Data—some of which comes from past analysis and some of which is new, streaming in real time to an onboard computer in a patrol car—to identify high-risk areas, which precincts can then flood with police. The aim is not to make arrests but to deter crime before it occurs. Predictive policing relies crucially on community engagement—it can work only when the police are seen as part of the neighborhood, rather than as an occupying presence. At a time when police-community relations are frayed and many cities face rising violent-crime rates as well as renewed concern about terrorist threats, the approach may provide a better way forward.

Currently, about a dozen American cities—including Los Angeles as well as Santa Cruz, Atlanta, Georgia, and Tacoma, Washington—are using PredPol, a leading predictive-policing software and analytics program. Many of these cities rolled out the system over the past few years, and they are seeing positive, and sometimes dramatic, results. In Los Angeles, a nearly two-year study by UCLA crime scholars and law-enforcement officials, released this past fall, found that PredPol successfully predicted—and prevented—twice as much crime as human crime analysts did. The LAPD is now using PredPol in 14 of its 21 divisions.

“Every police department in cities of 100,000 people and up,” says criminologist Craig Uchida, “will be using some form of predictive policing in the next few years.” Like every innovation, the method has advocates and critics. Predictive policing strikes its detractors as potentially Orwellian law enforcement; but at its best, it aspires to something quite the opposite—a return, albeit a high-tech one, to the days of police on the beat who knew their constituents and worked with them to keep neighborhoods safe.

The use of information to respond to crime has always been part of the history of policing, an essential part to solving crime after the fact,” Bratton explains. “When Sir Robert Peel [home secretary in early-nineteenth-century England] created the British Metropolitan Police Force, he had nine principles of policing, which were focused on the prevention of crime.”

Before Peel created the Met in 1838, London was policed by the Bow Street Runners, six officers who constituted the city’s first professional police force and solved crimes as a civic service—not, as professional “thief-takers” previously did, for a fee. The force was founded in 1749 by Henry Fielding, author of Tom Jones. It disbanded in 1839, the year after Peel created the Met as a citizen police presence and an alternative to a military force. The Met’s authority depended on public approval. To Peel, this meant that the police—nicknamed “Bobbies,” for Peel’s first name—had to behave respectfully, succeeding not through compulsion but through the willing cooperation of citizens. Bobbies traditionally didn’t carry firearms; when force was necessary, it was to be minimal. And the police were not the judiciary. Bobbies did not judge guilt or innocence, did not punish or avenge. “The police are the public,” Peel said, “and the public are the police.” Peel believed that the Met proved itself not by the number of criminals it caught but by the absence of crime.

In the United States, policing took shape along Peelian principles: cops walking the city beat deterred crime by their presence. They got to know the neighbors and the neighborhoods, which were more stable than they became after World War II. For years, many cops claimed that the most realistic police show on TV was Barney Miller because it showed the everyday neighborhood problems that most officers dealt with: homicides were rare, and few cops ever had cause to pull a gun. In New York City, you drew your weapon only in life-threatening situations, and, when you did, you shot to kill. The most common response to shooting a dangerous criminal was to vomit. But Barney Miller was an exercise in nostalgia. It was produced just as the system was changing.

 

 

Broken Windows Policing & Politics

When they are aligned, as they were in New York City for many years, good things happen. When they are not, as now in New York City—Sacramento has not yet tried broken windows policing—bad things happen.

That is the subject of this story from City Journal.

An excerpt.

When I wrote about public spaces for City Journal 24 years ago, I called them “both the glory and shame of New York.” The glory because of “the liveliness,” then and now, “of our sidewalks and plazas”; and the shame because those spaces had become places of danger, filled with thieves’ markets, menacing madmen, and mounds of garbage—a key reason that, in 1991, pessimism about the city had been rising for six years, and half of all New Yorkers wanted to leave. In the later years of Ed Koch’s mayoralty and in the one-term tenure of David Dinkins, gunshots and the sound of whirring helicopters in search of the shooters were familiar. Abandoned cars, ripe for stripping, abounded, and the city was rife with the odor of urine and marijuana. Perhaps worst of all was the aggressive panhandling by not always homeless but usually mentally ill mendicants, who created an aura of menace.

But 20 years of mayoral leadership under Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg brought a renewed energy and optimism to the city. The historic decline in crime began in the mid-1990s, when William J. Bratton, aided by George Kelling, cofounder of Broken Windows policing, first served as police commissioner under the newly elected Giuliani. After the proactive policing instituted by Giuliani and Bratton cleared the city’s public spaces, Giuliani’s successor, Bloomberg, aided by his police commissioner, Ray Kelly, expanded them, building the Hudson River Park, the High Line, and Brooklyn Bridge Park. Bloomberg also reinvigorated old spaces like Madison Square Park and Union Square. Over the past two decades, New York’s public spaces have reclaimed their former glory. Today’s residents, as well as tourists and business travelers, enjoy the city’s great advantage—the 24-hour pleasures of its public spaces—without worrying about safety. The pervasive sense of threat and the fear at the sound of trailing footsteps that once accompanied an evening stroll have largely receded into memory.

Success has bred its own problems, however. With the city’s rising population, subway crowding and car traffic are worse than ever. The sidewalks in Times Square overflow with tourists, who seem to find costumed characters like Elmo and Spiderman charming, even if some are unnerved by the topless women panhandlers known as the desnudas. New Yorkers are willing to overlook disturbances unimaginable in much of America. Earlier this year, my son Harry, a columnist for the Daily News, posted a picture of a packed outdoor café on Broadway and 21st Street. Yellow police tape extended from the edge of the café; directly around the corner from the diners stood a gaggle of cops. “Sunday brunchers, next to the murder scene,” he labeled the image.

But New Yorkers’ tolerance for the intrusion of unpleasant realities into everyday life only goes so far: some old concerns are starting to return. Though Gotham has seen record job growth in 2014 and 2015 and the city is approaching an unprecedented 4.2 million people employed, New Yorkers seem to fear that the city is going in the wrong direction. Asked if the quality of life has gotten better or worse in recent years, 53 percent say worse and only 14 percent say better. Several factors play into these perceptions, such as an increase in public smoking of pot and screaming tabloid headlines. New Yorkers sense something changing, and not for the better.

Much of this new unease seems to involve the rise in homelessness and increasing displays of disorder that take many new Gothamites by surprise while giving long-timers a chill of recognition. The city’s recorded homeless population grew by 10 percent in 2014. Sixty percent of New Yorkers told Quinnipiac in October 2015 that they see more homeless people “on the streets, in parks and on the subway” now than they did a few years ago. Just 11 percent say that they see fewer. Yet for almost two years, Mayor Bill de Blasio denied that increase, pointing to a once-a-year street census that took place during an exceptionally cold snap, when fewer homeless would be outside.

In a May 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, de Blasio, his approval numbers dropping, came off as a mayor in denial. “A lot of people outside New York City understand what happened in the first year of my New York City mayoralty better than people” within Gotham, he said. That analysis didn’t go over well, so de Blasio, backtracking, took to blaming the press and pollsters for his lagging support among New Yorkers. “I don’t say, ‘Oh, why doesn’t the public see through it?’ ” he told the Daily News in September. “I’m actually sympathetic—that if you hear the same [anti–de Blasio] message over and over again, it affects your judgment.”

De Blasio has tried to deflect criticism of his homeless policy by noting that the city produced 3,000 units of “affordable”—i.e., subsidized—housing last year, more than was brought on line from 2007 to 2013 under Bloomberg. He has promised many more units over the next 15 years. But these steps have done little to curb anxieties about homelessness.

De Blasio’s promises of gentler policing compound these worries. Overall, crime in the city continues to be contained, for which the mayor and his extraordinary police commissioner, William Bratton, back for his second tour of duty, deserve credit. But at the same time, de Blasio talks about a more discretionary treatment of transient people, an approach that, in practice, often puts police at a disadvantage in restoring order. The mentally ill homeless, in America’s only big city with a constitutional right to shelter, often don’t want help. If police need to wait for them to break the law to take action, they won’t get many of them off the streets.

St. Thomas Aquinas Feast Day

Our greatest saint, from Franciscan Media.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Lived: (1225-1274) | Feast Day: Thursday, January 28, 2016

By universal consent, Thomas Aquinas is the preeminent spokesman of the Catholic tradition of reason and of divine revelation. He is one of the great teachers of the medieval Catholic Church, honored with the titles Doctor of the Church and Angelic Doctor.

At five he was given to the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino in his parents’ hopes that he would choose that way of life and eventually became abbot. In 1239 he was sent to Naples to complete his studies. It was here that he was first attracted to Aristotle’s philosophy.

By 1243, Thomas abandoned his family’s plans for him and joined the Dominicans, much to his mother’s dismay. On her order, Thomas was captured by his brother and kept at home for over a year.

Once free, he went to Paris and then to Cologne, where he finished his studies with Albert the Great. He held two professorships at Paris, lived at the court of Pope Urban IV, directed the Dominican schools at Rome and Viterbo, combated adversaries of the mendicants, as well as the Averroists, and argued with some Franciscans about Aristotelianism.

His greatest contribution to the Catholic Church is his writings. The unity, harmony and continuity of faith and reason, of revealed and natural human knowledge, pervades his writings. One might expect Thomas, as a man of the gospel, to be an ardent defender of revealed truth. But he was broad enough, deep enough, to see the whole natural order as coming from God the Creator, and to see reason as a divine gift to be highly cherished.

The Summa Theologiae, his last and, unfortunately, uncompleted work, deals with the whole of Catholic theology. He stopped work on it after celebrating Mass on December 6, 1273. When asked why he stopped writing, he replied, “I cannot go on…. All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.” He died March 7, 1274.

Comment:

We can look to Thomas Aquinas as a towering example of Catholicism in the sense of broadness, universality and inclusiveness. We should be determined anew to exercise the divine gift of reason in us, our power to know, learn and understand. At the same time we should thank God for the gift of his revelation, especially in Jesus Christ.

Quote:

“Hence we must say that for the knowledge of any truth whatsoever man needs divine help, that the intellect may be moved by God to its act. But he does not need a new light added to his natural light, in order to know the truth in all things, but only in some that surpasses his natural knowledge” (Summa Theologiae, I-II, 109, 1).

 

 

Recruiting Terrorists from Prisons

Another article, from MSN News, with some solid data, about terrorists being recruited from prisons.

An excerpt.

“European jails have been breeding grounds of Islamist radicals for years, particularly in Belgium and France,” the Post’s Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet write. “But recently, criminality and extremism have become even more interwoven, with recruits’ illegal behavior continuing even after they are shown ‘the light’ of radical Islam.”

This is an acute observation, although it’s scarcely surprising that Westernized recruits to ISIS are just as deviant and lawless as their patrons in Syria and Iraq—the true originators of punk jihad, where anything goes and nothing, not even the weaponization of children, is off-limits. After all, the spiritual founder of ISIS, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was a violent thug both before and after his embrace of Salafi jihadism.

Like Abaaoud and Zarqawi, Siddhartha Dhar (a.k.a. Abu Rumaysah), the latest British-accented ISIS recruit to gain notoriety for his suspected role in the group’s videos, also broke dramatically with his past: He was a Hindu before gravitating toward radical Islam, although, unlike Abaaoud and Zarqawi, Dhar didn’t have a history of violence, robbery, or drug-dealing, and hadn’t done any jail time. Instead, he rented out bouncy castles to the kafirs he came to loathe.

These biographical traits have cropped upin numerousstudies. In his survey of 31 incidents of jihadist terrorism in Europe between September 2001 and October 2006, Edwin Bakker found that at least 58 of the 242 perpetrators of these attacks—or 24 percent, a “strikingly high number,” he says—had a criminal record prior to their arrest for terrorism-related offenses. According to a study by Robin Simcox, of 58 individuals linked to 32 ISIS-related plots in the West between July 2014 and August 2015, 22 percent had a past criminal record or were in contact with law enforcement.

Simcox also found that 29 percent of these individuals were converts to Islam. Converts, he reported, accounted for 67 percent of American Muslims involved in committing or planning an ISIS-related attack—“a significantly disproportionate percentage, considering that they comprise only 20% of Muslims throughout the entire United States.” Converts are similarly overrepresented among convicted British jihadists. According to Scott Kleinman and Scott Flower, converts constitute an estimated 2 to 3 percent of Britain’s 2.8 million Muslims, yet “converts have been involved in 31% of jihadist terrorism convictions in the UK from 2001 to 2010.”

What is it about ISIS, and militant Islamist groups in general, that makes them attractive both to criminals and to converts or born-again Muslims?

In The True Believer, published in 1951, the philosopher Eric Hoffer suggested that mass movements hold a special appeal to “sinners,” providing “a refuge from a guilty conscience.” “Mass movements,” he wrote, “are custom-made to fit the needs of the criminal—not only for the catharsis of his soul but also for the exercise of his inclinations and talents.”

High-risk, high-intensity Islamist activism seems tailor-made for the needs of criminals and ex-cons.

This also applies to jihadist groups like ISIS, which promise would-be recruits not just action and violence, but also redemption.

In his 2005 study of al-Muhajiroun, a banned Islamist movement based in Britain with reputed connections to ISIS, Quintan Wiktorowicz detailed the multiple material and social costs attached to what he calls “high-risk Islamic activism.” He mentioned one al-Muhajiroun document in which members are sternly warned to refrain from behaviors ranging from “listening to music and radio” and “window shopping and spending hours in the market,” to “hanging out with friends” and “joking around and being sarcastic.” The organization’s activism, Wiktorowicz observed, is “fast-paced, demanding, and relentless.” It also bristles “against the mainstream,” generating a “kind of excitement often found in counterculture movements rebelling against the status quo.” Many members, he noted, “seem to enjoy their role as ‘outsiders.’”

But more crucially, Wiktorowicz argued, al-Muhajiroun promotes the idea of spiritual salvation—socializing its members to believe that their sacrifices in the here-and-now will be rewarded in the hereafter.

High-risk, high-intensity Islamist activism, in other words, seems tailor-made for the needs of criminals and ex-cons, providing them with a supportive community of fellow outsiders, a schedule of work, a positive identity, and the promise of cleansing away past sins.

Can the same be said for converts to Islam or born-again Muslims?

A common line of argument among scholars is that converts to Islam are insufficiently knowledgeable about their new faith and thus acutely vulnerable to extremist interpretations of Islam, which they lack the intellectual or theological resources to counter. While this explanation seems intuitively plausible, it assumes that converts to Islam know less about their newfound religion than Muslims who were born and raised into it. Yet the evidence for this claim is shaky, and at odds with studies showing just how engaged and well-versed many converts are in debates over matters of faith. The idea that converts, lacking in religious knowledge, are peculiarly susceptible to demagogic manipulation also carries the implication that those with a deep knowledge of Islam are unlikely to join jihadist groups. This, too, is a contentious point—and it’s unclear whether it could even be empirically established, given how contested Islamic knowledge is. More contentious still, this logic essentializes Islam as inherently pacifist, suggesting that some true or proper understanding of the faith would serve as a repellent against deviant jihadist interpretations. But what Islam is or isn’t is an open (and indeed volatile) question; there is not one “true” Islam, but a plurality of Islams, each competing for epistemological hegemony.

Converts to Islam are perennial outsiders. They are “doubly marginalized.”

A more promising explanation lies in the social situation of converts in the West, and their status as apostates or defectors from the non-Islamic faith or secular world into which they were born and acculturated. In an illuminating article on “court Jews and Christian renegades,” the sociologist Lewis A. Coser wrote, “The renegade is, as it were, forever on trial.” Indeed: “He must continually prove himself worthy of his new status and standing.”

Realignment Fails, CJLF Press Release

CJLF

Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

16-03

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 21, 2016 Michael Rushford, President (916) 446-0345
FBI REPORT RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT CALIFORNIA SENTENCING REFORMS

Statistics from the FBI, documenting crimes committed in the first six months of 2015, indicate that California is experiencing significant increases in both violent and property crime, far above the national average.
The just-released FBI Preliminary Uniform Crime Report, which counts crimes in cities with populations of 100,000 or more, showed a 1.7% increase in violent crime and a 4.2% drop in property crime nationally, from January through June of 2015.  The same report found that violent crime spiked by 12.9% and property crime increased by 9.2% in California’s largest cities.
“Last year, 73% of California’s largest cities had increases in violent crime, 71% had increases in property crime, and 89% saw increases in stolen vehicles,” said Criminal Justice Legal Foundation President Michael Rushford.
According to the Foundation, these preliminary numbers along with a recent Reuters report indicating that California is actually spending billions more on prisons than before enactment of sentencing reforms such as, AB109 (Public Safety Realignment) and Proposition 47 (The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act), suggest that the promises made by Governor Brown and others that the new laws would save tax dollars and reduce crime have not been kept.
AB109, a 425-page bill, was adopted in the state legislature in April 2011 by a party-line vote without committee hearings and signed into law by Governor Brown.   Supporters claimed that the new law was necessary to comply with a court-ordered reduction of the state prison population and would also create a more fair criminal justice system where non-serious, non-violent offenders could remain in communities for rehabilitation and treatment rather than warehoused behind bars.  Roughly 30,000 prison inmates have been released under this law and they cannot be returned to prison for convictions of the most common theft and drug-related felonies and assaults.
Proposition 47, a ballot measure proposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, was adopted by California voters in November 2014.  Proponents, funded with nearly $6 million in out-of-state contributions, ran a slick campaign claiming that the measure was supported by law enforcement and would prevent low-level drug users and thieves from becoming hardened criminals by reducing several felonies, including firearm theft and drug possession, to misdemeanors and providing funding for rehabilitation and treatment programs.  In fact, every professional law enforcement organization in the state opposed the measure, but with little money to mount a campaign, there was no organized opposition.
“Many law enforcement leaders saw this coming and warned the Governor, the legislature, and the public that dumping habitual felons back into communities and keeping them there would be both expensive and dangerous,” said Rushford.  “Now, law-abiding Californians are paying the price both physically and financially.  I will be very surprised if the Governor even mentions this during his state of the state speech this afternoon,” he added.


CJLF President Michael Rushford is available for comment at (916) 446-0345.

Criminal Justice Legal Foundation 2131 L Street, Sacramento, CA  95816 * (916) 446-0345 * Fax (916) 446-1194 Web page: http://www.cjlf.org * Blog: http://www.crimeandconsequences.com

Why, Why?

Rorate Caeli Blog asks an important question.

An excerpt.

The Great Powers that can destroy a nation in days apparently have not ended their strange experiment of letting the “Islamic State” do whatever they want in most of Syria and half of Iraq.

After the genocide of Christians from the lands occupied by ISIS, they will not stop until every sign of Christian heritage is wiped out. Why, why do the Great of this world allow this?

“The mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way.”… (II Thess.)

Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press confirm what church leaders and Middle East preservationists had feared: The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of the ISIS terror group’s relentless destruction of heritage sites it considers heretical.

St. Elijah’s Monastery stood as a place of worship for 1,400 years, including most recently for U.S. troops. In earlier millennia, generations of monks tucked candles in the niches, prayed in the chapel, worshipped at the altar. The Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ’s name, were carved near the entrance.

 

Crime Up

Which is what happens when the nation embarks on a program of reducing prisons, early releases of criminals, and confusion around what public safety really means, as this article from the Wall Street Journal reports.

An excerpt.

Murders rose 6.2% in the first half of 2015, according to preliminary crime data released Tuesday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, figures that are likely to further fuel the current political debates about crime, policing and sentencing.

Violent crime overall increased 1.7%, the FBI found, while property crimes decreased 4.2%, compared with the first six months of 2014. Police chiefs from around the country had warned about an apparent surge in recent months.

The rise in murders is largely due to increases in two parts of the country: the Midwest, which saw a 9.9% rise, and the South, which saw an 8.6% rise. The Northeast and West saw more modest rises of 1.3% and 1.6%, respectively.

Rising crime has been a hotly debated topic over the past year in law-enforcement circles. FBI Director James Comey has suggested the increase may be partly due to what police officials call the “Ferguson effect’’—a greater reluctance on the part of police officers to engage with suspects for fear of being criticized for alleged abuse or discrimination.

The ostensible phenomenon is named after Ferguson, Mo., where public protests and looting followed the killing of an unarmed black 18-year-old in August 2014. “Something deeply disturbing is happening in places across America,’’ Mr. Comey said in October. “Far more people are being killed in many American cities, many of them people of color, and it’s not the cops doing the killing.’’

The director blamed a “chill wind’’ blowing through law enforcement in cities like Sacramento, Calif., and Washington, D.C. “In today’s YouTube world,’’ Mr. Comey asked, “are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime?”

White House officials and civil rights groups have dismissed speculation about such an effect as unfounded. Others have suggested that the heroin trade is fueling more crime, or that crime rates had gotten so low they were bound to bounce back up at some point.

Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said “it is too early to draw any long-term conclusions’’ from the data, and noted the overall violent crime rate remains historically low.

“The Justice Department is acutely focused on the increases being experienced in some communities of the country. This is why several months ago the department intensified its efforts to identify and combat violent crime,’’ Mr. Rodenbush said.

According to the preliminary figures compiled for the first six months of 2015, the number of aggravated assaults increased 2.3% and the number of rapes under a previous definition increased 9.6%, while rapes under a revised definition increased 1.1%.

Senior FBI officials say they are pushing to modernize their crime-reporting system to give officials something closer to complete real-time data. The current data have been criticized by law-enforcement officials and academics as slow, with significant gaps that prevent policy makers from making decisions quickly to counter changes in crime patterns.

Whatever the causes of rising violent crime, many law-enforcement officials are concerned 2015 may herald the end of more than two decades of falling crime rates. That could affect the continuing debates in Congress to scale back federal prison sentences, particularly for nonviolent drug offenders, something that has drawn growing bipartisan support.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 89 other followers