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Many judges believe that crime rates are rising to justify harsher sentences and higher bail amounts.  Problem is that belief is not based on reliable facts.

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2022 | Firm News

Like many other Americans, judges believe. based on public statements from certain politicians, that crime is up in their community.  This judges and the public believe violent crime has spiked.  We all saw the campaign rhetoric during midterms, along with often misleading ads to justify harsh sentences or cries for bail reform.  In reality, national crime data is not reliable enough to support justify this belief.  Myths and Realities: Understanding Recent Trends in Violent Crime, In fact, the reality is that unduly long prison terms are counterproductive for public safety and contribute to the dynamic of diminishing returns as the prison system has expanded.  Long-Term Sentences: Time to Reconsider the Scale of Punishment,; Extreme sentencing,

The statement that crime is rising is based on data from the newly revised FBI crime statistics collection program.  FBI crime statistics collection program is based on local police departments sending crime data to the FBI.  Unfortunately many police departments do not cooperate and send this data to the FBI.  Nearly 40% of law enforcement agencies around the country did not submit any data in 2021, leaving a massive gap in information sure to be exploited by politicians.  What Can FBI Data Say About Crime in 2021? It’s Too Unreliable to Tell, Broadly, it does not appear that policies associated with criminal justice reform were a significant contributor to recent trends in crime and violence.  Some policymakers and police leaders have been quick to blame rising crime on reforms to pretrial detention laws and practices, arguing that people released from jail under these initiatives were responsible for, or at least contributed to, the increase in violent crime. These arguments gained traction across the country over the last two years, but no evidence has emerged to support them.  Myths and Realities, Iid.

More broadly, some critics have asserted that policies adopted by progressive prosecutors and “blue-state” mayors — such as declining to prosecute certain nonviolent offenses or to seek bail in some cases — contributed to rising crime. But there is no evidence to support these claims. In fact, researchers have shown that the election of progressive prosecutors has not caused crime to increase in their cities. In one working paper, a team of social scientists analyzed crime data from 35 cities where more progressive law enforcement officials entered office, finding no change in serious crime rates relative to other jurisdictions. In some cases, so-called “progressive” policies may in fact enhance public safety. According to one recent study of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, “people who are not prosecuted for misdemeanors are much less likely to find themselves in a courtroom again within two years.” That speaks well of a policy implemented by former Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, under which her office declined to prosecute many (but not all) nonviolent misdemeanors, like disorderly conduct and minor drug possession.  Id.

Moral of the story is that the public and judges should make decisions based on facts not simply beliefs.