Thanks to tough-on-crime policies put into place during the Reagan years, we’ve enjoyed nearly 21 consecutive years of reduced crime since the early 1990s. It was one of the greatest and only positive social trends in this country over the past generation, resulting in a 60 percent decline in violent crime. Now, thanks to a reversal of those policies, the crime wave is back. But instead of hanging this political vulnerability around the necks of Democrat politicians, Republicans are joining in the push to reduce incarceration even more and convincing Trump to go even further.
Last Tuesday, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released its annual National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), and it showed that “among U.S. residents age 12 or older, the number of violent-crime victims rose from 2.7 million in 2015 to 3.3 million in 2018, an increase of 604,000 victims.” This is significant because during every year between 1994 and 2015, the numbers in the NCVS declined.
We were beginning to think that the decline in violent crime would be a permanent trend. But the trend only persisted because bad guys were actually being locked up. That is no longer the case. The rate of violent crime is almost perfectly inverse to the rate of incarceration. Here is a chart of the murder rate from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting juxtaposed to the federal prison population.
The same can be said of the state prison population, which has declined dramatically in many states. The fact that the trend on violent crime reversing again is not setting off alarm bells reveals just how much the political priorities of the politicians have changed since last generation.
What was the culprit of the violent crime increase in this latest report? According to the NCVS press release, “This overall rise was driven by increases in the number of victims of rape or sexual assault (from 204,000 in 2015 to 347,000 in 2018), aggravated assault (from 561,000 to 694,000) and simple assault (from 1.7 million to 2.1 million).” Overall, the number of violent incidents increased from 5.2 million in 2017 to 6.0 million in 2018.
We have reported many cases here at CR of violent assaults and sexual assaults both by illegal aliens and citizens who accrue long rap sheets and barely serve any time, even for gun violence. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, of those criminals released from state prison in 2016, the median time served for assault, which includes aggravated assault, was 1.4 years, and the median time served for rape was 4.2 years. But that is just among those who actually serve time. So many others get off with probation, and the trend toward weakness is getting even stronger and faster.
There has been a rash of beatings taking place throughout the country, often by juveniles who clearly aren’t fearing long sentences awaiting them after a conviction. This is happening everywhere, particularly in New York and California, but I want to focus on the heartland state of Minnesota, where everyone is supposed to be “nice.”
The Minneapolis area is experiencing a rash of violent robberies and assaults, with several videos circulating widely on the web. This week, the Hennepin County Attorney’s office announced the indictment of 18 people for one of the viral brutal assaults, of which seven are juveniles. During a three-week period last month, 48 robberies were reported in downtown Minneapolis, with 23 in one week. Overall, there has been a 53.8 percent increase in robberies since last year.
Who are these perpetrators? As the local CBS affiliate reports, quoting one local community activist group leader, “Many of these juveniles that are affected by this are part of just coming out of incarceration and they don’t have any hope at home, there’s nothing there, and so they come downtown where there’s a little bit of everything and they’re waiting on somebody to prey on.” In that case, the victim was beaten by over a dozen people until he was left unconscious on a Minneapolis street on August 17.
This is clearly the result of the “avoid incarceration at all costs movement.” According to the Vera Institute of Justice, the Minnesota incarceration rate dropped 6.4 percent just from 2017 to 2018.
Just last week in neighboring Anoka County, Minnesota, Leeroy Duane Woodbeck of Minneapolis was charged with seven crimes in one day, including burglary, auto theft, and tossing a dog belonging to the owner of that car out the car window. Who is Woodbeck? Is he a first-timer unknown to police? According to Alpha News, he had “nearly 70 criminal cases which include at least 15 felony convictions since 2003” for crimes that include burglary, theft, check forgery, financial card fraud, receiving stolen property, theft of motor vehicle, robbery, narcotics, domestic assault, DWI, and damage to property.
How long did he serve? The most recent conviction was for burglary and felony narcotics in May, yet he received stayed sentences despite a lengthy conviction record and violating his probation on numerous occasions. He was out on the streets to victimize more people immediately.
Last week, a Ramsey County (St. Paul) district judge sentenced Abdirahman Mohamed Adam for killing his cousin when he put a gun to his head and shot him in a sort of Russian roulette-style game where a group of them were discharging firearms until the chambers were empty. How much time did he get? 180 days and 10 years of probation. Who knows how much time he will actually serve? So much for being tough on gun violence. I guess that is only applied to law-abiding gun owners.
Adam Colby Mitchell, another career criminal from Minneapolis who was arrested in August, was out on the streets despite 30 criminal cases, which included at least six felony convictions for crimes such as burglary, domestic assault, narcotics, and violation of a no-contact order. His last conviction was in May for first-degree burglary, but he was given a stayed sentence due to credit for time served for his prior crimes. Who says career crime doesn’t pay!
But fear not, you might want to show up to the first ever Hennepin County “Juvenile Warrant Forgiveness Day” event on Saturday. There will even be Spanish, Somali, and Hmong interpreters available to provide language services.
Sadly, “Minnesota nice” only seems to be directed at criminals and the pressure groups that represent them.
Yet both parties in the political class want to lecture us about too many low-level criminals being locked up for too long? Are you kidding me? We don’t even lock up the career violent criminals. And the effects are showing. Anyone who calls himself conservative and pushes “criminal justice reform,” aka more leniencies, without seeing the effects of the existing leniencies is no conservative.
Republicans are criminally negligent if they don’t respond to the Democrats’ gun control push with a criminal control agenda.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.