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Horowitz: Murder rate surging in 2020 as COVID policies keep criminals out of jail

Aside from the viral epidemic, 2020 will be remembered for a crime epidemic that broke the back of the criminal justice system, which has successfully reduced crime since the mid-1990s. Meanwhile, criminals continue to be kept out of jail and prison in order to keep “social distancing” in prisons, when data show they have a lower fatality rate than the rest of the population. More criminals on the streets, more crime, and less freedom for law abiding citizens. What will 2021 bring us?

On Monday, the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ) released an updated crime data report, which examined weekly changes in major crime offenses across 28 cities from January 2017 through October 2020. The findings were quite alarming.

Overall, homicide rates between June and October 2020 increased by 36% compared to the same period in 2019 in 21 cities, amounting to 610 more lost lives than last year. Aggravated assaults increased by 15% in the summer and 13% in the fall of 2020 over the same period last year; gun assaults increased by 15% and 16%. Residential burglaries, on the other hand, declined significantly because so many people remain at home.

NCCCJ is a program created by the Council of Criminal Justice in July and is co-chaired by former U.S. Attorneys General Alberto Gonzales and Loretta Lynch.

The study observed, “The precipitous rise in homicide and assaults in the late spring of 2020 coincided with the emergence of mass protests after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, although the connection, if any, between the social unrest and heightened violence remains uncertain.”

While the rise of Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioting certainly contributed to the rise in vandalism, arson, and assaults, there have only been a few homicides traced back to the riots. What the study fails to point out is that the increase in homicide is mainly from career criminals who are increasingly not locked up, especially while awaiting trial. The other variable this year, aside from the “protests,” is the mass de-incarceration under the guise of protecting prisoners from the spread of COVID.

The NCCCJ study concluded:

Finally, policymakers must take police reform seriously. Protesters have called for increasing accountability for police misconduct and shifting functions such as addressing the day-to-day problems of the homeless and responding to drug overdoses to other agencies and personnel better equipped to handle them.

But what does that have to do with the increase in homicide? So, unless they enact “police reform,” the beatings and murder will continue? Most murder is gang-related. Are they really murdering in order to protest “police misconduct”? Sure, there is more murder because police are taking a hands-off approach on the streets, but how does handcuffing police help that?

The reality is that there are more potential murderers on the street, not to be deterred by police in any capacity. According to UCLA’s data tracking on COVID-related incarceration releases, over 123,000 criminals have been released from prison and jail this year because of COVID-19, capping several years of gradual release under other jailbreak programs. On top of that, there are countless thousands of new criminals who are not being locked up initially because of the stigma against adding to the prison population at a time like this. Judges are increasingly taking this into account.

Now it turns out that all the deaths that will result from these criminals on the streets were built on a false premise that prisons would be deaths traps, with the virus killing prisoners at a higher rate than the general population.

In the early spring, the ACLU warned that “detention centers would be petri dishes for the spread of COVID-19 — and a death trap for thousands of people in civil detention.” But in reality, they indeed were good petri dishes to study what would happen if the virus actually spread to a fully confined population. And it turns out it’s not the death trap the ACLU envisioned – not any worse than it is in the general population. Yes, the virus spreads far and wide in confined spaces, but as we’ve seen from the natural epidemiological case study of prisons, most people are asymptomatic and very few required hospitalization.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that despite the widespread transmission of the virus in prisons, “the case-fatality ratio, or the percentage of coronavirus cases that are fatal, is lower among inmates than the broader population.” According to their data, the case-fatality rate among inmates was about 0.7%, one-third that of the general population (2.1%).

Now, obviously, the true fatality rate is likely not that much better in prison, because case fatality rates only measure the deaths against the known cases. In jails and prisons, a much larger percentage of the true infections have been confirmed through mass testing than among the general public. But it still appears, based on overall deaths per 100,000, that the fatality rate among the incarcerated population is at least somewhat lower than the general population.

There are roughly 2.2 million incarcerated individuals in the country, and as of Dec. 1, according to the UCLA tracking project, there were 1,449 COVID deaths among inmates. That is a death rate of 65.9 per 100,000. At 269K COVID deaths in the general population, that would be 81 deaths per capita.

While it is true that prisoners are a younger population, they also have a lot of underlying conditions. Plus, the population is disproportionately black and Hispanic. According to the CDC, the COVID-19 death rate among black and Hispanic people is three times higher than among white people. If the premise of those pushing for corona jailbreak were correct, we’d be seeing a bloodbath in prisons relative to the population. That is simply not playing out.

Thus, the same overstating of the severity of the virus, along with overstating our ability to stop the spread, that has spawned the criminalization of human living has also wrongly enabled the release of thousands of dangerous criminals. We are the criminals, and the criminals are the victims.

After all, the only crime that is considered serious by our governing elites is not wearing a mask. And given that most violent criminals seem to be wearing masks, there is nothing to see here.

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Horowitz: Crime surging in nearly every major city in battleground states

Pennsylvania might just have become the biggest political battleground, but the streets of its largest city have become a literal battleground, with record homicides this year. The question is whether this bloody dynamic will shape the outcome of this election and, even more importantly, the criminal justice policy agenda after the election.

In October, Philadelphia recorded 65 homicides, the most on record for that month. The city recently surpassed 400 for the year, and police believe they are on pace for 500 homicides by the end of the year. That would likely rival the record of 505 set in 1990.

These are the black lives we never hear about. We only hear about those career criminals who are killed in the process of charging police with knives, but we never hear about the hundreds of extra homicide victims this year thanks to the weakened deterrent of jailbreak policies and the war on cops. Almost all of those excess victims are likely African-American.

As compared to 2019, the murder rate is up 42% in Atlanta, 30% in Miami, 20% in Dallas, and 36% in Houston. San Antonio is on track for one of the deadliest years ever. Austin is seeing a 40% increase in homicide and an 18% increase in aggravated assault, and its police officers are retiring in droves.

In Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, homicides already surged by 88% in 2019, and that number is already nearly matched this year with more time remaining on the year’s clock.

In Phoenix, homicides are up this year over last year the most of any city outside besides Chicago.

Indianapolis just recorded its 200th murder, which crushes the record of 179 set three years ago – with two months remaining to the year.

In Ohio, the city of Columbus is about to break its record for homicides, and Cincinnati will likely break the record by the end of the year. Ditto for Cleveland.

Milwaukee is also likely to break its record, set back in 1991.

As for Michigan, when is crime ever not rising in a city like Detroit? Crime is also rising in Grand Rapids, the home of Trump’s final rally.

And Minneapolis is the epicenter of the breakdown in law enforcement, with so many people scared to leave their homes. Homicides have nearly doubled from last year.

Thus, in so many battleground states, not just in pure blue states, President Trump has an opportunity to make his final pitch on pushing a national crime strategy that reverses the trend of criminal justice leniencies and laissez-faire against crime on our streets. Most of these shootings don’t come out of nowhere. They are committed by repeat offenders who are either never locked up or who are released early by the sundry new leniency programs implemented in most states this past decade.

This entire dismantling of our strong criminal justice system from the 1990s began with the false claim that the leniencies would only apply to low-level offenders. What happens when you release “low-level” criminals? Well, they tend to reoffend and commit those same “low-level” crimes. The only problem is that the definition of low-level has come to include anything, even murder.

On Friday, Rona Love, who had been convicted of two murders in the 1990s, was arrested for shooting someone in the neck in a Manhattan subway. How was he back on the streets? Love, a man who now considers himself a female, was placed on parole in April 2019. On July 15 of this year, Love was arrested for drunkenly hitting someone in the head with a broom and was released without posting any bail, despite the unbelievable grace he received with parole for his prior murder convictions. Thus, even a double murderer who violates the terms of parole is not reincarcerated in New York. Indeed, we have now reached a point in our criminal justice system where there is no such thing is a violent, high-level criminal in the eyes of the anti-incarceration movement.

Trump has a golden opportunity to close out his campaign in the swing states with a promise of law and order. While he is promising to deter criminals, Biden is making his final pitch to criminalize breathing by mandating masks on all Americans. Therefore, Trump’s closing argument should be: “I will lock up the guys who rob, shoot, loot, and steal with masks; Biden will turn all your children into mask-wearing robbers.”

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Fresno law enforcement rages at Calif. Gov. Newsom: ‘The blood of the children being shot by out-of-control gang members in our city is on your hands’

Local law enforcement officials in San Quentin, California, blamed an increase in violent crime in Fresno County on Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and his progressive bail policies, slamming the state for prioritizing a “political agenda” over the lives of California citizens.

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp called on Newsom to stop releasing criminals from prison because of the coronavirus and end zero-dollar bail policies she says are leading to increases in violent crime.

“Stop using COVID-19 to promote your political agenda. The blood of the children being shot by out-of-control gang members in our city is on your hands, and on the hands of every person who does not make public safety a priority,” Smittcamp said.

The press conference took place on the same day that San Quentin Officials weighed a decision to appeal the state’s release of more than 1,100 inmates, KMJ reported. On Wednesday, a California appeals court ordered state corrections officials to parole or transfer the inmates serving time in San Quentin State Prison, citing officials’ “deliberate indifference” to the health and safety of the convicted criminals during the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this year the prison experience an outbreak of the coronavirus, leading to 2,200 infections at its peak and the deaths of 28 inmates.

Labeling the outbreak “the worst epidemiological disaster in California correctional history,” the court ruling blasted the prison’s decision not to cut the inmate population by half, as recommended by experts, as “morally indefensible and constitutionally untenable.”

But from the perspective of Smittcamp and law enforcement agencies in San Quentin, it’s releasing violent criminals and endangering public safety that’s morally indefensible.

“The law enforcement agencies represented behind me are the ones fighting on the front lines to bring peace to our community. We are in some of the most violent times that we have ever seen. … In the midst of this, our last two governors vowed to close state prisons. Governor Newsom announced that he will close the state prison facility in Tracy, California, on September 30, 2021,” Smittcamp said.

“Why is this relevant to why we are here today? It is relevant because we are lacking bed space to house local criminals who are shooting up our cities and killing our children and each other,” she continued.

“[Governor Newsom’s] solution to COVID protection and prevention is letting them out of prison with no regard for their victims and the communities they will return to terrorize,” Smittcamp declared. “So I just said it: Governor: open up the prisons. Do your job. Manage.”

Local officials in Fresno County say that since zero-dollar bail and early release policies went into effect in April, gang activity and violent crime have surged.

Zero-dollar bail was a policy put in place by the California Judicial Council to reduce the bail requirements for most misdemeanor and lower-level felonies to $0. Most violent crimes are exempted from the policy, meaning bail remains for charges of sexual assault, gun crimes, domestic violence, or people under court-ordered restraining orders. The policy was intended to reduce the strain on the court system during the pandemic and lower the spread of coronavirus in jails.

But police say that shootings are up 126% and murders rose 55% since the policy was implemented. According to police, 80% of the homicides are gang-related, KGPE reports.

“This is a crime wave that’s happening in our city,” Fresno City Council member Mike Karbassi said on Oct. 7.

Smittcamp explained that in response to the surge of crime, more exemptions are being added to the zero-dollar bail policy.

“The court has slowly started here in Fresno to exempt certain crimes from zero-dollar bail,” Smittcamp said. “What we just did last week was not only add to the list, which had already been amended earlier, a few weeks earlier, about six weeks earlier, we added further zero-dollar bail exemptions, meaning exempted crimes that were not set from zero-dollar bail, but we also were able to request, and that request was granted by the court, to increase the bail amounts for gang and gun crimes.”

Still, the reality of violent crime is affecting the very communities progressives say are most important.

“The last four or five women in this community, and the last four or five victims in this community that have been killed and shot — innocent women, innocent people caught in gunfire — have been women of color. It is enough. Enough is enough. It’s time for it to stop,” the district attorney concluded.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims also spoke at the press conference, adding, “Pointing the finger at the state is the absolute right thing to do because nearly 20% of our jail population is comprised of state inmates that are sentenced that are ready to go on to state prison. However, the reception centers are closed. They’re actually timing out in local custody and being released and never moving on to state prison because they’ve been there so long.”

Fresno’s Top Cops Call Out Newsom on Closed Prisons

(H/T: The Daily Wire)