Political Scapegoating To Explain Away Rising Homicide Rates

Editorial

By Michele Hanisee

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has reported a stunning 111 percent increase in homicides from January 1, 2021, to May 21, 2021, versus the same period in 2020.  While current statewide numbers are not yet reported by the Department of Justice, California’s homicide rate in 2020 had a lower but still alarming 31 percent increase.
While some politicians have recently attempted to blame increased gun sales for the rise in violent crime, historical studies and data are mixed as to whether increased gun prevalence causes a rise in violent crime, or whether the increase in violent crime causes more people to buy guns.
Economist Thomas Sowell said, “One of the first things taught in introductory statistics textbooks is that correlation is not causation. It is also one of the first things forgotten.” In the absence of data that proves that it is the gun purchases causing the violent crime rate rather than the reverse, or that there is no causal relationship at all, it is dishonest to lay blame on increased gun sales.
A recent study published July 5, 2021, by the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program found no causation between increased gun sales and a rise in violent crime. The study examined firearm sales over two years beginning in 2018, including the increased sales of millions of firearms during the COVID pandemic in 2020. The study concluded that “[d]espite concomitant increases in firearm purchasing and firearm violence nationally, the magnitude of the increase in purchasing at the state-level did not explain the magnitude of the increase in non-domestic firearm violence.”
Yet, as gun violence increases, politicians are calling for the decriminalization of gun use during crimes. The current District Attorney of Los Angeles County refuses to enforce California’s “10-20-life – use a gun and you’re done” law. A bill pending in the Legislature would repeal this law. Governor Newsom signed into law a bill that allows judges to dismiss firearm enhancements even after they have been found true by a jury. These same politicians defend diversion programs that will enable criminals to continue to possess guns.
These radical and reckless efforts to decriminalize gun violence are not evidence-based decisions, they are purely ideological. This is classic stage-one thinking by politicians who advocate for policy solutions without considering the long-term costs and consequences. Saving money through reduced incarceration is the stage-one goal. But what happens next? And who pays the cost of what happens next? 
As local and Sacramento politicians are now learning, what happens next is a public safety crisis. Rather than looking for the true cause of rising homicide rates, they are attempting to deflect accountability away from their own policies and legislation which have reduced accountability for criminal gun use.
The Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys is the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.


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C E Voigtsberger

Jerry Brown in his first term as goobinator of Kallyforniya signed into law his “tough on crime” bill. “Use a gun, go to jail” was his mantra. Well I can tell you that the armed allegation in a felony complaint was the first item on the charging sheet to be dealt away.

When the National Rifle Association, you know, the folks everyone loves to hate, funded a program in Roanoke, VA in the last century to pay federal prosecutors to enforce the federal laws against gun possession by felons, gun usage dropped significantly. It was called Operation Exile. It worked dramatically well in reducing crimes committed with a firearm. Whodda thunk? Send felons in possession of a firearm to federal prison across the country from their homies would result in a dramatic drop in firearms usage in the commission of other felonies? What a novel idea. Put bad guys away in a distant prison for a long period of time and crime goes down. Whoa!!! That’s a concept that would have never occurred to me.

Let’s see: If a criminal is in prison, he can’t commit other crimes against innocent citizens. How novel!

People wonder why crime rates went down in the first decade of the 21st century and started to go up again in the second decade.

I submit the answer is really clear. Laws stiffening and lengthening sentences for repeated crimes passed in the last decade of the 20th century started to show effect in the first decade of the next century. Then politicians discovered that it cost money to keep felons in prison, especially California type prisons which most experienced criminals admit are a joke compared to some other states. So, in order to transfer the cost of felons, various laws were passed in the second decade to lessen the salutary effects of long prison terms by transferring the cost of crime from the state to the victims of such criminals.

Every time I hear some lily-livered politician bleating about the cost of imprisoning felons, I always want to hold up my hand and say, “Hey, what about the cost to victims?” What is the cost to the father and mother of a daughter who was tortured, raped and murdered? I harken to the teenage daughter of a pair of lawyers, husband and wife, who was murdered outside their office building by what might have been one of their clients. This happened not too many years ago in Los Angeles in a “good” part of town.

You come home and it has been trashed by burglars. Oh, well, your loss is covered by insurance. Oh, yeah? I’ve got news for you, Pilgrim. Most common insurance policies cover the value of the item lost. That means instead of $2,000 for the three year old computer set up that was taken, you get its current value, $150.00. If you want replacement value, that is a more expensive policy. So you pay extra for protection against the common burglar. You pay that every year. How about we spend the money for replacement value on keeping the damned burglar in prison in the first place?

There is hidden savings that the sob-sister politicians never mention. That is the cost of processing crime after crime after crime committed by the same jerk. He gets arrested. Cop time spent dictating a crime report. Clerical time forwarding the report to the DA’s office. Deputy DA time spent reviewing cop’s report and interviewing said cop. DA office conference on what to do with the case. First court appearance. Case continued to appoint public defender. PubDef makes first appearance and case continued for preliminary court hearing. Prelim held. Transcript prepared. Appearance in superior court. etc etc. Guilty plea entered. Case referred to probation department for review and report to the court, etc. etc, etc. Not too many priors on record, criminal is sentenced to a year in the county jail, sentences suspended and granted probation for five years. Criminal walks out of jail and within a day or two is back to committing another burglary to raise cash. All of that procedural busy work costs you, the taxpayer money. Keep the burglar (and all the rest of the criminal pantheon) in prison and save the administrative tax money. We might even be able to start trying civil cases in superior court once again.

In addition, there is no compensation for the time lost in inventorying the stolen merchandise, trying to find the receipt for a perfectly good 5 year old stereo set. Hasseling with the insurance company; filing out forms; spending time talking to the cops on the burglary detail — good luck with them finding the perp. Unless he walks into police headquarters and voluntarily confesses, the chances of the burglary detail actually solving the crime are less than zero. I have had two business here in river city burglarized a total of five times. On one occasion, according to a witness, the local patrol cop drove by the business while the burglar was busy taking stuff out the front window on a Sunday afternoon. So much for vigilant police patrol. When I asked the burglary dick if he had sent in the fingerprints the volunteer had lifted from a window pane, he didn’t even know there was an exemplar of five perfect latents that the tech had taken. Even when I pressed him on it, he never bothered to send them to Sacramento to see if they were on file. Nice police work, burglary dick.

So while you are saving the cost of filtering the money to keep felons in prison through the fine screen of Sacramento bureaucracy, you are paying for the burglar being out on the street through higher insurance premiums and for those unlucky enough to be the object of a burglary, the cost of the all the associated time lost processing the paperwork for reimbursement.

Here’s some tips for anyone unlucky enough to have a burglary. First of all, when your house is broken into and you are not home, it is a burglary, not a robbery. A robbery is when someone says to you, person-to-person, “Give me all your money and your watch.”

The most important tip is that national statistics substantiate that if you are burglarized, home or business, you will be burglarized again sometime in the next 90 days.

“Why is that?” Well, Pilgrim, the crook knows what you have that is new. In 90 days or sooner, you will have replaced all the old stuff he stole with new stuff. He already knows how to get into your home or business as he has already done that once. Maybe you put in an alarm system, but in 90 days you are getting careless about setting it all the time. It’s a good score. You have become like a client of his. Neither the cops nor the insurance company adjusters will advise you of that factoid although it is commonly known in the burglary business. So if you have managed to read this far, that is your reward for sticking to my tale.