Unexpectedly: Crime Rates Begin to Rise in Los Angeles

I bring you shocking news, gentle readers.  If you take thousands of incarcerated felons and turn them loose on society, and you then allow the federal government and cultural elites to demoralize the police officers charged with keeping these liberated hoodlums in line, you end up with higher crime.  Who would have dared imagine it?

This is the state of affairs in California, where a succession of imprudent decisions by judges, lawmakers, and the electorate have combined to throw open the prison gates to swarms of men who in a sane world would have remained locked away at a safe remove from the law-abiding public.  The most recent of these affronts to good order was the passage of Proposition 47, which was approved by a wide margin in last November’s election.  The law, known to its advocates by the Orwellian title “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” reclassified certain felony crimes as misdemeanors.  Previously, offenses such as drug possession, writing bad checks, and theft of property worth less than $950 could, under certain circumstances, be prosecuted as felonies, a tactic most often employed with repeat offenders.

No more.  These charges are straight misdemeanors now, and with the deterrent effect of a potential state prison sentence no longer hanging over those who practice these behaviors, the criminal underclass has responded accordingly.  With the risk-reward ratio now skewed to their benefit, these criminals are acting as one would expect.  And worse, the law is retroactive; those serving prison time for these crimes can petition the courts for release.  More than 2,700 prisoners have already been turned loose under the new law.

Proposition 47 followed a legislative initiative known as AB 109, which sought to remedy overcrowding in California’s prisons.  Distilled to its essence, AB 109 mandated that certain felons serve their time in county jails rather than state prisons, and it transferred the responsibility for post-release supervision of some convicted felons from the state to the counties, with the result being that many ex-cons are not getting the attention they deserve.  Add to these blunders the poisonous effects of the “hands up-don’t shoot” movement which, though based on a lie, persists in shaping public opinion about America’s police officers, and you have an ideal environment for crime to rise.

And behold the harvest.  “LAPD struggles with spike in violent crime, shootings,” read the headline over a March 24 story in the Los Angeles Times.  Shootings in L.A. are up 31 percent this year as of March 21, which translates to 54 more people shot than during the same period last year.  Disturbing as those numbers are, they don’t tell the whole story.  As with most violent crime, shootings in Los Angeles are largely confined to the four patrol divisions that make up the South and South-Central areas of town.  In Southeast Division, which patrols Watts and nearby communities, shooting victims have increased by 17 percent.  But this is positively bucolic when compared to the three neighboring divisions.  In 77th Street Division, shooting victims are up by 47 percent, in Newton it’s 153 percent, and in Southwest, which patrols the area near USC, the jump in shooting victims is a horrifying 171 percent.