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Horowitz: NYT admits homicides in 2020 likely topped 20,000, most since 1995, but can’t figure out why

Op-ed

What a mystery

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It was one of the greatest public policy achievements of our lifetimes — the generation-long decline in violent crime. Since the early 1990s, violent crime and murder have dropped by two-thirds, with almost every subsequent year showing a new drop in crime levels from the previous year. Many people thought this was a permanent and irreversible trend and even forgot what it was like to live with ubiquitous violent crime. Well, new data presented by the FBI shows that the entire generation-long gain against murder has been wiped out, with no end in sight.

For the past seven years, I have been a lone voice fighting the trend of de-incarceration promoted by both parties and the Koch brothers. Those who forgot that we achieved the drop in crime by locking up career criminals used the low crime levels to justify "criminal justice reform," aka jailbreak. Well, now those policies have come home to roost.

Although the FBI doesn't release its full uniform crime reporting until later in the year, on Monday, the agency released preliminary statistics showing a 25% increase in murder reporting last year from an incomplete set of major city data reporting. What does that mean? It's not just a reversal of the downward trend, but according to the New York Times, "A 25 percent increase in murder in 2020 would mean the United States surpassed 20,000 murders in a year for the first time since 1995."

The data does not even include New York, Chicago, and New Orleans, which experienced particularly sharp increases in murder in 2020. Also, a sample of 37 cities shows that the trend of higher crime is persisting into 2021, with those cities reporting an average of 18% more homicides for the first quarter of this year over last year.

While the NYT recognizes the sharp increase in crime, the paper criticizes the FBI for changing its method of reporting and feigns ignorance as to the source of the rise in crime. "Although it's not clear what has caused the spike in murder, some possibilities are the various stresses of the pandemic; the surge in gun sales during the crisis; and less belief in police legitimacy related to protests over police brutality," speculates author Jeff Asher.

Well, the stress of the lockdowns (not the pandemic) certainly didn't help, but in fact, crime went down last year from March until the Floyd riots in late May. Also, most of the increased murders are in inner cities, not across the board, which is what one would have expected if the virus was the cause. Furthermore, where is the evidence that the gun sales are to the criminals (who get them on the black market) and not to the people protecting themselves against the criminals? Also, "less belief in police legitimacy" is an uncanny way to describe lack of deterrent, which is the real culprit. We have simply stopped deterring and punishing crime in this country.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Portland, Oregon, where BLM and ANTIFA, including some career criminals, have been able to riot, beat, burn, and occupy public and private property with impunity for nearly a year. The result? According to crime policy expert Sean Kennedy, a fellow at the Maryland Public Policy Institute, since June 2020 (just after the Floyd riots), there has been a 255% increase in murder in Portland through February 2021 and a 173% increase in shootings.

Remember, Portland is not known for murder. As Jeff Reynolds of PJ Media explains based on Kennedy's data: "The numbers are truly alarming. From January through April 2020, there were a total of three murders in Portland. Just in January and February 2021, we've already seen 20 murders. For the period of June 2020 through February 2021, 71 murders have occurred in Portland. That's a staggering 255% increase over the same period one year prior."

"Less belief in police legitimacy," indeed! It's more like the criminals know they will not be punished for their crimes.

The bottom line is that a mixture of pretrial criminal releases from jail, early prison releases (both accelerated under COVID), hands-off policing, unpunished rioting, and virtually no prison time for juvenile carjackers has created a perfect storm to reverse the downward trend on crime we once thought was irreversible.

There is no city that showed the drop in crime in the 1990s better than New York City, yet it now also serves as the poster child for the reversal of that trend, with a 47% increase in murder and a 100% increase in shootings. Police unions in New York place the blame squarely on the mass pretrial releases of gun and other violent felons. It's not that more guns are on the street as a result of first-time suburban moms buying guns to protect themselves; it's that more gun felons and gang leaders are on the streets and not behind bars. The same people who promote locking up the guns are working overtime to release those who commit gun violence.

According to the NY Division of Criminal Justice Services, the average daily jail census in New York in 2020 was less than half the level from just a few years ago. That's an awful lot of criminals who used to be locked up who are now out on the streets.

Couple that with the war on cops, and it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out why crime is spiking.

What about Philadelphia – the City of Brotherly Love? After a year of record homicides, murders are already up 32% in 2021 compared to this time last year. The refusal to clamp down on juvenile criminals, gun felons, drug traffickers, and gangsters by Soros DA Larry Krasner has ensured that city streets are full of black homicide victims, in addition to carjackings, drugs, and homelessness. Democrats have scared Republicans into changing their views on sentencing by playing the race card and falsely claiming that black criminals are unjustly incarcerated. The result of the reversal in tough-on-crime policies has created record homicides, in which black people make up 86% of the Philly murder victims, even though they only compose 44% of the city's population. Indeed, only the lives of black criminals matter to the political class, not black victims of crime.

What's interesting is that our government understands deterrent when it wants to. Notice how there has never been another right-wing gathering, much less riot, since Jan. 6. Let's just say the government more than effectively deterred such behavior by holding people without bail for simple trespassing. Now imagine if the government wielded such a stick against violent criminals throughout the country.
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