There is a destructive crime and justice trend afoot that clearly endangers public safety.
No, it is not the actions of violent protestors and riotous thugs. It is the deliberate inaction of District Attorneys who are refusing to prosecute violations of law.
You’d likely be fired if you failed to do what you were hired to do. It’s not that easy when dealing with an elected or appointed District Attorney who is tasked with investigating and prosecuting citizens who break the law.
Mike Schmidt, the DA in riot-scarred Portland announced he’s dropping charges against hundreds of protestors arrested for criminal trespass, disorderly conduct or interfering with a law enforcement officer. He won’t prosecute those arrested for rioting either unless there’s some serious additional crime, like arson, included.
In July, Antifa and Black Lives Matter supporter Michael Reinoehl, was arrested for illegally possessing a loaded firearm and resisting arrest. But the previous DA dropped the case, Reinoehl was set free. In early September, Reinoehl confessed on videotape to fatally shooting Aaron “Jay” Danielson, a pro-Trump supporter. Reinoehl said it was self-defense but surveillance video showed him lying in wait for a target. U.S. Marshalls hunted down the fugitive Reinoehl and he was killed in an exchange of gunfire.
Two men dead who didn’t have to die.
This DA dereliction of duty is occurring across the country. Progressive prosecutors are picking and choosing which laws to uphold and which to ignore.
In Philadelphia, DA Larry Krasner decided to ease up on those arrested on gun-related charges. He’s also against prosecuting marijuana dealers and sex workers because, he says, “people’s freedom makes us safer.” Homicide rates in Philadelphia have risen 30% and Krasner now agrees his prosecutors should work more closely with police to crack down on gun violence. Duh.
In Contra Costa County, California DA Diana Becton instructed her prosecutors to consider looters’ “needs” when deciding whether to file criminal charges. The head of the Police Officers Association says the policy is “reckless” and asks, “At what point does our District Attorney’s Office advocate for the victims,” like local business owners whose shops have been destroyed?
In Boston, DA Rachael Rollins has a Decline to Prosecute list of 15 charges including drug possession and possession with intent to distribute, receiving stolen property, malicious destruction of property and shoplifting. She says judges told her those crimes were “bogging down” the system so she decided to ignore them. The Massachusetts Retail Association reports businesses there loose about $1 billion a year to shoplifting. Ignore the crime and punish the victim? Sounds crazy.
In Chicago, DA Kimberly Foxx campaigned on a promise not to prosecute low-level drug and shoplifting offenses and to change the way the system dealt with minority defendants. She’s the DA who dropped the false report charges against actor Jussie Smollett who claimed a racial attack. An independent review concluded Foxx dropped 5,000 cases that would have been prosecuted by her predecessor.
Yes, DA’s have discretion to decide which cases to take and which to drop, but this willy-nilly social experimentation with the law is dangerous. If laws are on the books they should be upheld. If they are unfair then state legislatures should change them. No, we don’t want to be a country that locks up hungry people who shoplift food and necessities to survive but a blanket pass for almost all shoplifters is counterproductive.
DA Becton, Rollins, Foxx and the DA’s from St. Louis and Durham (all female and all Black) penned an opinion piece for Politico in which they openly blasted the very criminal justice system they swore to uphold. They wrote that the system was “constructed to control Black people and people of color” and called for major changes in prosecutorial attitudes.Look, it is clear Black and Brown people represent a disproportionate number of defendants in the criminal justice system. Is it because they, proportionally, commit more crimes or is it because their skin color and lower income status makes them more vulnerable to failures within the justice system? Could be that both are true.
Let’s reach an honest conclusion about the “why” and “who” of crime before making a mockery of the legal system by ignoring those laws deemed by some DA’s to be irrelevant.
CORRECTION: My original column mistakenly left the impression that D.A. Mike Schmidt dropped the gun possession charges against BLM/Antifa supporter Michael Reinoehl in July 2020. That dismissal was ordered by the previous District Attorney. I regret the error and this version of the column carries the correction.