Rising Crime Rates Prompt Calls for Stricter Enforcement
WASHINGTON — Washington, D.C.’s mayor is casting doubt on whether the city’s attorney general is adequately protecting residents against crime in a dispute echoed nationwide amid a surge in violence.
“When a violent crime happens in our city, we need people paying close attention to what happens along the whole process — from arrest to detention decision for those awaiting trial,” Mayor Muriel Bowser wrote in her newsletter on Friday.
She added, “Unfortunately, right now we know that young people are not being held sufficiently accountable.”
Although she did not mention the attorney general by name, the implication was clear that she felt her own prosecutors might not be doing their jobs properly.
Washington is not alone in the infighting after the FBI reported last month that homicides reached a 25-year-high last year in cities nationwide.
In Los Angeles, District Attorney George Gascon faces a recall election July 6 as conservatives say his liberal justice policies contributed to a high crime rate.
Several cities set homicide records in 2021. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; Louisville, Kentucky; and Albuquerque, New Mexico, reported their deadliest years.
Homicides are up 44% nationwide over 2019 levels, according to a report released last month by the Council on Criminal Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy foundation.
Rising crime also set off speculation about the reasons behind it. Criminologists blame anger toward police after the Black Lives Matter movement, frustration over the COVID-19 pandemic and soft-on-crime policies that release criminal suspects on little or no bail money.
“While it is impossible to be certain, it is probable that the pandemic, protests and other factors all combined to create a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances pushing homicide rates to record levels,” the Council on Criminal Justice has reported.
President Joe Biden is meeting with New York City’s mayor Thursday to discuss crime prevention as he faces criticism from Republicans about whether he is doing enough to confront violent criminals.
New York City serves as an example after two police officers were killed and three injured in separate crime incidents last month. In another high-profile crime last month, a 19-year-old Puerto Rican woman was killed while she worked at a fast food restaurant.
Biden and Mayor Eric Adams will “discuss the administration’s comprehensive strategy to combat gun crime, which includes historic levels of funding for cities and states to put more cops on the beat and invest in community violence prevention and intervention programs, as well as stepped up federal law enforcement efforts against illegal gun traffickers,” a White House statement says.
Biden has placed a special emphasis on getting rid of ghost guns, which refers to firearms made or assembled by the owners with no way for police to trace them to their source.
In New York’s case, some conservative lawmakers blame the State Legislature for crime increases after it approved a bail reform law that took effect Jan. 1, 2020.
It reduced the number of incarcerated defendants awaiting trial by about 40%. Within weeks, police said the crime rate started going up.
Tom can be reached at email@example.com.
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