Our major papers recently ran some interesting stories about the crime rate being at a 30-year low. A New York Times story said, however, that “The government report did not cite causes for the statistics or predict trends.” It then quoted Lawrence A. Greenfeld, director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, as offering his explanation. He said there probably is no single factor, but that “it probably has to do with having a lot of very high-rate offenders behind bars.” Bingo. Incarceration rates are up and crime is down. This basic fact should be in the lead paragraphs of these stories.
An Associated Press story on the same subject in the Washington Post also questioned why crime was down. This story, by Curt Anderson, waited until the 11th paragraph to mention two possibilities, one of them being that there is a record prison population. But this could easily change. The Heritage Foundation is holding a seminar on the push by liberals in the American Bar Association to give judges the power to hand out more lenient sentences.
Billionaire leftist George Soros is funding an effort in California to decimate the three-strikes law that puts repeat criminals behind bars for long periods of time. Published reports say that Soros, John Sperling, founder of the University of Phoenix, and Peter Lewis, founder of Progressive Insurance, each contributed $150,000 to a ballot measure to “amend” the three strikes law. It just so happens that all three are backers of legalized marijuana.
Soros, Lewis and Sperling firmly believe that there are too many drug abusers and traffickers in prison because they don’t believe that using drugs should be a crime. Soros in particular also believes that ex-cons and felons, including killers, rapists, and armed robbers, should have the right to vote. He has funded efforts to change state laws so that millions more of them can show up at the polls on election day and vote for the Democratic Party.
Professor Chris Uggen, who received money from a Soros foundation to study the matter, is the co-author of the forthcoming book, Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy. He says that if the 4-5 million felons had been able to vote in the last election, Al Gore would have won the presidency and the Democrats would have picked up 7 U.S. Senate seats. He believes Republican states make it too hard for ex-cons to vote.
Robin Templeton, director of Right to Vote, is backing the Soros effort to get more felons to the polls. She complains about the “expansion of the criminal justice system,” meaning that more criminals are going to jail, because it “disproportionately” affects “communities of color.” She laments that “an estimated 13 percent of black males [are] currently unable to vote.” Her solution is to change the law to enable them to vote, not keep them out of prison in the first place. In Washington, D.C., where felons do have the right to vote, ex-convict and former mayor Marion Barry is on his way back, on the verge of capturing a seat on the D.C. city council. He won re-election as mayor after gaining the support of a group called “The Coalition of Ex-Offenders.”