(Nov. 21, 2023)  A new poll shows that the public, thank goodness, is coming to its collective senses by once again deciding that the way to stop crime is to punish it rather than excuse it.

More on the poll momentarily. It comes in this context: A temporary shift in the last decade away from that commonsense viewpoint — the one insisting that crime should be punished — was so disastrous that it almost completely ruined the wondrous reduction in crime from the 1990s and 2000s. Aided by massive financial support from radical Left billionaire George Soros, jurisdictions across the country in the 2010s elected prosecutors who won’t prosecute, local legislators who cut police forces and hobble their activities, and judges who won’t imprison convicts.

Moreover, the liberal media misreported worthwhile efforts to change sentencing practices for lesser offenses. The salutary idea, especially for minor drug violations, was to provide alternative sentencing and rehabilitative services rather than prison time. The idea wasn’t to cease enforcement against misbehavior but rather to ensure that enforcement was commensurate and that the response promoted better citizenship rather than recidivism and disrespect for the law.

The media, however, portrayed and applauded the alternative-sentencing movement as a move to decriminalize lots of bad behavior, and credulous politicians rushed to repeal statutes that had made it illegal to do things such as commit vandalism or urinate in the street. And, in the backlash to isolated examples of bad policing (or of media frenzies over policing that turned out to be entirely justified), officials in major cities across the country began excusing even significant thefts and crimes that turned violent.

Alas, largeish segments of the public temporarily began to back these soft-on-crime nostrums. As recently as 2020, only 41% of the public told Gallup’s pollsters that the U.S. criminal justice system was “not tough enough” against crime.

The results of this leniency were stark, as crime rose precipitously nationwide. … [The full column is at this link.]


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