As crime rises, rollback of tough-on-crime policies meets resistance

It left no clear evidence linking progressive policies to these trends, but critics were quick to draw the connection, suggesting prosecutors let offenders walk and created an expectation that low-level offenses will not be charged. . Those arguments have landed on voters and city leaders already grappling with a plague of pandemic-related illnesses — including mental health care needs and housing shortages, rising drug use, even deaths on the roads.

Last week, a Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters in New York found that 74% of those polled considered crime a “very serious” problem – the highest share since the survey began asking the issue in 1999 and more than 20 percentage points higher than the previous peak, which was recorded in January 2016.

Politicians are heeding these concerns. In New York, Mr. Adams, a Democrat, has vowed to get tough on crime, and his police commissioner, Keechant Sewell, has criticized Mr. Bragg’s proposals as threatening the safety of officers and the public. In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed has become a vocal critic of Boudin’s approach, which emphasizes social services over policing.

“It doesn’t work,” Ms Breed recently said on The New York Times’ “Sway” podcast. “We added all these additional resources – the street crisis response team, the ambassadors, the services, the buildings we buy, the hotels we buy, the resources. We added all these things to deal with food insecurity, all of these things, yet people continue to be physically injured and killed.

The criticisms of two prominent black mayors are particularly biting. In their liberal cities, nuanced complaints from leaders have far more sway with voters than the usual attacks from Republicans or police unions. Both mayors argued that minority communities who want racism entrenched in the justice system also want stronger policing and prosecutions.

President Biden, who was one of the architects of criminal justice overhaul in the 1990s, recently praised Mr. Adams’ focus on crime prevention. Some prosecutors and their allies have taken this as a sign that the Democratic establishment is embarking on a centrist approach to criminal justice reform.

Mr Biden’s comments came as the Democratic Party feared to retain the support of moderate suburban voters in the midterm elections this year. Many Democratic lawmakers and strategists believe protest slogans such as “defund the police” hurt the party in the 2020 election — especially in swing congressional districts and in Senate races. Republican candidates, eager to regain control of Congress in November, have previously run ads portraying Democrats as soft on crime.

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