No ordinary citizen can legally carry a gun in New York City, yet shootings are up 59.6 percent over this time last year. On Sunday, a pregnant woman was shot while sitting in her own car in front of her home in Queens. This is becoming the new normal in New York after the memo has gone out to criminals in the city that politicians fear growing the prison population more than they fear crime.
According to NYPD crime data, in addition to the 59.6 percent spike in shootings over this time last year, robberies increased 32.8 percent and grand larceny auto crimes were up a whopping 62.8 percent. Burglaries rose by 17 percent. This is just for the first 26 days of 2020.
What gives? According to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, it’s no mystery. It’s all about New York’s law abolishing bail. “If you let out individuals that commit a lot of crime, that’s precision policing in reverse and we’re seeing the effects in a very quick time,” Shea said at a press conference last Friday. He decried the undeniable “correlation” between the rise in crime and the jail and prison “populations dropping significantly.”
This is the other side of the criminal justice equation that politicians, including country club Republicans, refuse to recognize. As they are focused like a laser beam on reducing the prison population, they are ignoring the human nature of violent criminals. These criminals simply see no deterrent against their destructive behavior, and for good reason. Thus, whatever form of crime it is they like to engage in, they will continue repeating it until they are locked up. One criminal in Staten Island, who had a history of vehicle theft, was arrested for breaking into vehicles three times in three weeks. He was released every time!
The backward priorities of criminal over victim inherent in criminal justice “reform” are perhaps best reflected by an anecdote told by Commissioner Shea during last week’s press conference. Last week, a drunk driver slammed his minivan into a police officer who had pulled over another driver at the side of a road, catching the officer between his car and the officer’s car. “I stopped at the hospital the next day, right before he was wheeled into surgery,” related Shea in front of reporters last Friday. “He got out of the hospital today. Individual that did it was out [of jail] before him. I mean, something’s wrong with that picture. And not his first DWI arrest.”
With a rampant drug crisis raging, the worst drug traffickers face no deterrent. This week, six fentanyl traffickers working for Dominican cartel distributors, three of whom are in the country illegally, were released without bail. Over 1,400 people have died every year over the past few years as a result of drug overdoses in the big city.
Repeat armed robbers are being let out only to rob again. Then, once the criminals are out, they have no incentive to show up for their court date, and many are just ignoring the notices to appear. After all, what are the cops going to do to them?
The fact that criminals know the entire weight of the political universe is against incarceration these days is incentivizing them to victimize with impunity. New York’s experience is demonstrating that most people locked up are dangerous to society. When they are let loose, crime will go up. This is not about nonviolent, victimless crimes, as proponents of these “reforms” repeat ad nauseum.
The truth of the “reform” movement was boldly revealed last week by Danielle Sered, the head of one of these well-monied interests seeking to abolish the concept of incarceration. In an op-ed for USA Today titled, “To end mass incarceration, U.S. needs alternatives to prison for violent crimes,” Sered concedes that the entire narrative for jailbreak is built on a fallacy.
As consensus and momentum to end mass incarceration have grown, the reform narrative, though compelling, has been based on a fallacy: that the United States can achieve large-scale, transformative change by changing responses primarily to nonviolent offenses. That is impossible in a nation where 55% of people incarcerated in state prisons in 2016 (the latest available Bureau of Justice Statistics data) were convicted of violent crimes. To truly have an impact on mass incarceration, we need to reckon with that reality.
Indeed! As I’ve noted before, there are actually very few people in prison for nonviolent offenses, and in fact, there are hundreds of thousands of violent offenders who are not locked up. Sered lives in her own alternative reality of abolishing prison even with this in mind. But for the 90 percent of the country that doesn’t want that, they are seeing the reality of violent crime, undeterred, play out every day in New York. Prison culture ain’t pretty. But turning every American city into a violent prison is not an option.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.