While many experts agree that justice reforms were necessary to bring some balance back to how cities and states deal with crime, a growing number of them believe measures embraced by Democrats have gone too far and are endangering lives.
“We don’t need to roll back, we need to get things back in balance,” Nina Salarno Besselman, president of Crime Victims United of California, told the Washington Times.
“There have been unintended consequences to the reforms, which have swung way too far and caused a serious crime wave in California,” she added.
The paper noted that her organization, which claims about 30,000 members, is, for instance, a strong proponent of the Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2020, a measure that will appear on the November ballot in the state and is designed party to “reclassify currently ‘non-violent’ crimes as violent,” and thus “prevent the early release of inmates convicted of these crimes.”
But some of the crimes that have been reclassified make little sense to many people, advocates note. For example, under California law now, the rape of an unconscious person is not a violent felony in California. Also, the seriousness of other crimes such as domestic violence or abuse also have been reduced.
“There were some needed reforms, but they went too far,” California Democratic Assemblyman Jim Cooper, a veteran of the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office, told the Times.
“I’m all for reform if we do it the right way. But the recidivism rate in our state prisons is 50 percent, and if we let people out and they’re going to recommit crimes, then we still have a problem,” he added.
In New York, officials are dealing with recent justice reforms including getting rid of cash bail for many crimes. After the 2018 midterms, Democrats obtained a legislative majority and quickly changed laws to reduce bail and lessen penalties for a range of other crimes.
That, say critics, has led to an increase in criminal activity that is endangering citizens.
“All of these things are pretty horrific crimes,” Salarno-Besselman said. “Things just went too far in California and we need to get back to the middle.”
Attorney General William Barr agrees. In recent speeches, he has criticized liberal criminal justice reform measures as being contributors to increases in crime.
In December, Barr announced a new initiative to crack down on rising violent crime in seven major U.S. cities.
He introduced Operation Relentless Pursuit at a news conference in Detroit alongside the leaders of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service, The Associated Press reported.
The cities targeted are Detroit; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Baltimore; Cleveland; the Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, metropolitan area; Memphis, Tennessee; and Milwaukee.
“Fighting violent crime is one of the priorities of this administration,” Barr said. “In a number of cities it’s a stubborn problem. The federal government can’t attack this problem alone. It depends on collaboration with state and local partners.”