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Jesus and the new call for increased criminal prosecutions due to increased crime rate during pandemic

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2021 | Firm News

Politics are at the center of the story of Jesus. His historical life ended with a political execution. Crucifixion was used by Rome for those who systematically rejected imperial authority.  This rejection of authority chronically usually came from defiant slaves and subversives who were increasingly challenging the rule of the Roman Empire.  Rome typically chose indigenous collaborators from the wealthy class who saw it in their personal interest to support power when it advantaged them.  In first-century Roman Palestine the wealthy oligarchy (meaning ‘the ruling few’) was represented by the Sadducees, sometimes referred to in the gospels as “the leaders of the people,” or “the chief priests and the elders.”

Today the Sadducees are found in various conservative groups like the Manhattan Institute.  The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is a conservative 501 non-profit American think tank focused on domestic policy and urban affairs.  In its March 18, 2021 blog, Josh Hammer, a Newsweek opinion editor and a research fellow at the Edmund Burke Foundation, writes “Homicides in the United States increased in 2020 by over 30 percent, on a year-over-year basis. Gun assaults and aggravated assaults also spiked, leading the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice to deem the crime surge of 2020 a ‘large and troubling increase’ with ‘no modern precedent. … Citizens of all political stripes, especially conservatives, must recover and publicly advocate anew the time-tested and common-sense notion that a free and just society is impossible without a robust commitment to a strictly enforced rule of law.’”

This is the Nixonian scare tactic calling for “law and order” to whip up public fear about rising crime rates to justify attacks on civil liberties and our constitutional rights.  Both the concept and the exact phrase “Law and order” became a powerful political theme in the United States during the late 1960s. The leading proponents were two Republicans, the governor of California Ronald Reagan and presidential candidate Richard Nixon. Nixon targeted, among others, working class White ethnics in northern cities to turn against the Democratic Party, blaming it for being soft on crime and rioters.  In reality, the Nixonian cry for law and order was a racial attack on African Americans.  “Nixon Adviser Admits War on Drugs Was Designed to Criminalize Black People,” Equal Justice Initiative (2016),

Like Nixon, Hammer cites to a lop-sided view of the criminal system.  I previously wrote how the “lock them up and throw away the key” mentality does not work.  “CRIME IS NOT REDUCED BY PUTTING A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE IN PRISON,”  In his article, Hammer gives no evidence for idea that there is a causal link between crime rates and incarceration rate.  That’s because the evidence is to the contrary.  “ ‘Given the small crime prevention effects of long prison sentences and the possibly high financial, social, and human costs of incarceration, federal and state policy makers should revise current criminal justice policies to significantly reduce the rate of incarceration in the United States. In particular, they should reexamine policies regarding mandatory prison sentences and long sentences. Policy makers should also take steps to improve the experience of incarcerated men and women and reduce unnecessary harm to their families and their communities.’”  Id.

Finally, as reported by the Pew Center “[b]oth the FBI and [Bureau of Justice Statistics] data show dramatic declines in U.S. violent and property crime rates since the early 1990s, when crime spiked across much of the nation.”  Pew Research Center, “What the data says (and doesn’t say) about crime in the United States” (2020).

Before conservatives “publicly advocate anew the time-tested and common-sense notion” of prison as a solution to the problem of crime, they should tell the public everything, not just what scares the public,