by Zack Smith and Cully Stimson
George Soros must be feeling the heat of rising crime rates.
The leftist billionaire recently penned an opinion column in The Wall Street Journal explaining why he financially supports progressive prosecutors. Cloaked in platitudinous language devoid of substance, Soros asserts that “reform-minded prosecutors” have an agenda that promotes safety and justice and are “popular and effective.”
That’s absurd, as we have been writing about for years.
His attempt to defend his scheme of replacing real prosecutors with rogue prosecutors is belied by the facts. His bought-and-paid-for prosecutors encourage lawlessness, harm law-abiding residents (especially minorities), drive businesses out of cities, and demoralize the police by treating them as the criminals.
His prosecutors claim otherwise, of course. They insist that not prosecuting entire categories of crime; not asking for bail; refusing to add sentencing enhancements; releasing hardened, convicted felons from prison; and declining to prosecute violent juvenile offenders in adult court; as well as ignoring shoplifting, drug possession, and prostitution (among other crimes) are sound policies that do not contribute to spikes in crime.
Crime rates, including violent crime rates, overall have been dropping for the past 30 years, yet incarceration rates peaked in 2008—long before Soros or his “reform” prosecutors came along.
Why? Because genuinely progressive prosecutors, working with other stakeholders, created domestic violence courts, drug courts, veterans courts, family justice centers, and countless other alternatives to incarceration that are compassionate, create accountability, and provide opportunities with the right incentives for defendants to recover their lives by changing their thinking and behaviors.
If someone wouldn’t complete these programs, though, the prosecutors could still seek incarceration.
Violent crime is geographically and demographically concentrated in inner cities, many of which are presided over by rogue prosecutors, where minority members of those communities are disproportionately victimized, including constituting a majority of homicide victims.
As Rafael Mangual of the Manhattan Institute noted in his recent book, “Criminal (In)Justice: What the Push for Decarceration and Depolicing Gets Wrong and Who It Hurts Most,” while blacks constitute 13.4 percent of the population, “they made up more than 53 percent of the nation’s homicide victims in 2020.”
In other words, the policies of these prosecutors are harming the very individuals they are supposed to be helping.
To truly help those individuals—and their communities as a whole—these prosecutors should seek appropriate bail and prison sentences for dangerous defendants.
The idea that appropriately long prison sentences won’t help protect communities is nonsense. Studies show that the longer the prison sentence, the lower the recidivism rate.
In fact, the U.S. Sentencing Commission in June released a report on a study that found that “the odds of recidivism were lower for federal offenders sentenced to more than 60 months’ incarceration compared to a matched group of offenders receiving shorter sentences. … The odds of recidivism were approximately 29 percent lower for federal offenders sentenced to more than 120 months’ incarceration … .”
The authors also found that “[t]he odds of recidivism were approximately 18 percent lower for offenders sentenced to more than 60 months up to 120 months of incarceration … .”
Not requiring bail for violent criminals also causes increases in crime. That’s common sense.
Moreover, in the primary academic paper on the subject, two law professors analyzed a Cook County, Illinois, bail reform study, which supposedly showed that lax bail laws do not impact the crime rate, and found, contrary to the study’s findings, that the “bail reform” changes in Cook County “appear to have led to a substantial increase in crimes committed by pretrial releasees in Cook County.”
Their analysis also found that the “number of released defendants charged with committing new crimes increased by 45%.” Worse yet, the number of pretrial releasees charged with committing new violent crimes increased by an estimated 33%.
No wonder the public is souring on these rogue prosecutors’ radical policies and the havoc they wreak. Voters in liberal San Francisco recently removed rogue District Attorney Chesa Boudin from office. His successor has pledged to hold criminals accountable while still offering diversionary treatment programs such as drug court for appropriate individuals—something prosecutors have been doing for many, many years.
Ironically, after voters recalled Boudin, one of George Soros’ representatives objected to the Washington Free Beacon calling Boudin a “George Soros darling,” trying to put distance between Soros and the failed DA.
A similar issue occurred when we wrote about Baltimore’s now-defeated (and federally indicted) rogue prosecutor Marilyn Mosby. A Soros representative reached out and objected to our characterization of her as a Soros-backed prosecutor since he never directly contributed to her campaign, even though she took numerous trips paid for by groups either funded or inspired by Soros.
The rogue prosecutor movement operates under two related principles; namely, that the entire criminal justice system is racist and that the only way to address that supposed racism is to reverse-engineer and dismantle the current system by electing pro-criminal, anti-victim zealots to office.
Flush with cash or support from Soros and his like-minded wealthy friends, candidates like George Gascon (Los Angeles), Larry Krasner (Philadelphia), Kim Foxx (Chicago), Kim Gardner (St. Louis), and others have been elevated to office and have imposed their pro-criminal agendas on an unsuspecting electorate.
The consequences have been predictable and deadly.
Prosecutors are the gatekeepers to the criminal justice system. Our nation’s approximately 2,300 elected district attorneys have a solemn duty to enforce the law and to do so fairly, compassionately, and without favor.
That shouldn’t be a left or right, blue or red, Democrat or Republican issue. You either support law and order and equality under the law, or you back a radical social experiment that so far has led to chaos and misery.
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Zack Smith is a legal fellow in the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Charles “Cully” Stimson is a leading expert in national security, homeland security, crime control, immigration, and drug policy at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Read his research.
Photo “George Soros” by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung. CC BY-SA 2.0.