Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez presented a solution for the surging rates of violent crime: Stop building prisons.
Violent crimes are up dramatically across the country. In Chicago, shootings are up 36% over last year and homicides are up 19%. In South Carolina, murders were up nearly 25% in 2020 versus 2019; the 571 murders are the highest total since the state started recording those numbers back in 1960. As of May 7, homicides in Atlanta are up approximately 60% compared to the same time period last year. A study of 34 U.S. cities discovered that homicides have spiked by 24% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same time last year and are up by 49% compared to the first quarter of 2019. In fact, 63 of the 66 largest cities in the United States experienced increases in at least one category of violent crimes in 2020.
In New York City, the murder rate skyrocketed by 47% last year, and this year it is up 17%. Last summer, when violent crime rates were soaring, AOC hypothesized that the crime rate was spiking because people were shoplifting bread.
"Maybe this has to do with the fact that people aren't paying their rent and are scared to pay their rent," Ocasio-Cortez said. "And so they go out and they need to feed their child and they don't have money so you... maybe have to... they're put in a position... they feel like they either need to shoplift some bread or go hungry that night."
Violent crimes are still at alarming levels in New York City, where shootings are up a whopping 73% from the same time last year, robberies are up 46%, and there has been a 35% increase in grand larceny and a 20% rise in felony assault. On Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez presented a solution to the daunting explosion of violent crime.
"If we want to reduce the number of people in our jails, the answer is to stop building more of them. … It's to support communities, not throw them away," AOC said at a press conference.
The democratic socialist continued, "Our complete gutting of support in our mental health system both in this city and across the country is absolutely correlated with both homelessness and incidents of violent crime."
"It is not acceptable for us to use jails as garbage bins for human beings," Ocasio-Cortez added. "We need to treat people and see them as human."
"The answer is to make sure we actually build more hospitals, we pay organizers, we get people mental health care," she said. "It's to support communities, not throw them away."
AOC's simple fix for the overwhelming violent crime spike was lampooned by many.
Freelance journalist Zaid Jilani reacted by saying, "This is actually really wrong, many prisoners are overcrowded and antiquated, simply blocking the construction of new ones is inhumane. And you can talk all you want about just having fewer prisoners but you aren't going to get any significant drop overnight, everyone knows that."
National Review senior writer David Harsanyi ridiculed AOC's proposal, "I am going to stop buying scales. It's the only real way to lose weight."
Daily Caller editor Cabot Phillips flipped AOC's elementary resolution and used her own argument against her, "If we want to reduce the number of people in our hospitals, stop building more of them."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was also at the press conference and looked on as AOC proposed the idea to halt the construction of prisons.
In January, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not rule out a primary challenge against Schumer.
"I'm not playing coy or anything like that. I'm still very much in a place where I'm trying to decide what is the most effective thing I can do to help our Congress, our [political] process, and our country actually address the issues of climate change, health care, wage inequality, etc.," AOC said.
AOC has also called for defunding the police and previously attacked New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's (D) proposal to cut nearly $1 billion from the New York City Police Department by saying it doesn't go far enough, and "defunding police means defunding police."
"These proposed 'cuts' to NYPD's budget are a disingenuous illusion," AOC said last June. "This is not a victory. The fight to defund policing continues."
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