America needs more criminals on the streets.
That’s the perspective of Democrats who insist that criminal justice reform requires the release of more convicted criminals onto America’s streets. They suggest that crime rates have dropped so much that over-imprisonment represents a greater threat to America than criminality itself. To back their case, they point to declining crime rates over the past two decades – declining crime rates based largely on more imprisonment in the first place.
As always, California leads the nation in implementing bad leftist ideas. And as always, those ideas make life more dangerous for Californians.
We now know that the demise of California’s criminals has been greatly exaggerated. According to The Los Angeles Times:
The Los Angeles Police Department misclassified an estimated 14,000 serious assaults as minor offenses in a recent eight-year period, artificially lowering the city's crime levels, a Times analysis found. With the incidents counted correctly, violent crime in the city was 7% higher than the LAPD reported in the period from 2005 to fall 2012, and the number of serious assaults was 16% higher, the analysis found.
The LAPD actually classified incidents like a woman stabbing a man in the abdomen with a six-inch blade as a minor offense. And this news follows hard on an internal audit in 2014 showing that “auditors found enough errors in 2014 data that aggravated assaults would have been 23% higher than previously reported.”
Why is that errors invariably lower the crime rate? Wouldn’t overclassifying be better than underclassifying?
The purpose of misclassifying, though, is simple: to tell the public that the LAPD is doing a stellar job quashing violence, making life easier for the Los Angeles’ mayor and California’s governor. That doesn’t benefit the cops on the streets – as the Times reports, “Some current and retired LAPD officers have complained about what they saw as top-down pressure from division captains to meet crime reduction goals, which they said could lead to data manipulation.” But this strategy does benefit the police chief and people in power who can claim success and victory even without achieving it.
The result: easing up on crime at the highest political levels. It’s easy for Governor Jerry Brown to release, parole, and pardon convicted criminals, and to then expect localities to take care of the problems. Predictably, Brown’s activities reversed a 12-year-decline in crime rates in Los Angeles, with violent offenses jumping 21% in the first half of 2015.
Government cannot be trusted to police itself. And we shouldn’t trust them that releasing criminals will work out fine when we can’t even trust their statistics.