A Century of Homicides

Republicans neither know nor care how crime got so bad, and unsurprisingly keep losing elections. The revolving door crime wave exploded in the 1960s, putting the criminals back on the street before the police could fill out the paperwork. Over the last year I talked to a thousand people about crime and not one, including criminal justice professionals and elected officials, could tell me how this revolving door started in the 1960s. Some suggested the Great Society, drugs, or the disintegration of the American family, but these came later. Crime shot up like a Saturn V rocket because it was deliberate policy to open up the jails and let criminals walk. Supreme Court justices, other top judges, intellectuals, criminologists, and the U.S. attorney general all proclaimed prison confinement a medieval idea and that behavioral ‘scientists’ would simply rehabilitate the criminals.

The results were disastrous. Homicides more than doubled and all other categories of crime quadrupled or more. Progressives refused to reverse course and fought against sentencing reform for decades. The defeat of Democrats in Congress in 1995 corresponded to Truth-in-Sentencing laws passed in the mid-1990s that cut homicides back to 1950s levels. In 2014 progressives such as BLM and Defund the Police movements launched the War on Police, now homicides are soaring. Since progressives opened up the prisons in the 1960s over one million Americans have been murdered and 1.2 million have died in opioid overdoses, more than in all U.S. wars combined.

Another lesson not learned is that crime rates climbed higher in good economies and dropped lower during downturns. Rampant crime drove thriving businesses and good jobs out of the inner cities. The supposed correlation of crime to unemployment or bad economies is false. A century of statistics strongly show the opposite. Homicide is the most reliable crime statistic -- missing persons and bodies are hard to overlook. But homicides are less than 00.18% of all reported crime in the last sixty years, a lagging indicator of overall crime. The graph shows murders soared in the Roaring Twenties and Booming 1960s, fell during the Great Depression and Great Recession and mendered through the Carter and Reagan economies. In the 1920s and 1930s homicides move opposite to what leftist dogma claims. The repeal of failed Prohibition is the trigger that flipped the murder rate. The follies of U.S. Prohibition, revolving door policies, and Defund the Police and the success of Truth-In-Sentencing can be seen in the data.

Progressives rode the crime wave they created to 40-year control of Congress starting in 1955. The U.S. prison rate barely ticked up from 1950 to 1980 and yet overall crime had exploded in the 1960s, up 400% by 1980. The progressives did nothing to protect the public from criminals. For sixty years leftists have undercut the courts and corrections, today they also undercut the police. The cost of policing and corrections is about $250 billion a year, but the economic devastation of crime is ten times higher at $2.6 trillion. Logic dictates fully funding the criminal justice system. Instead, progressives spend wildly on everything except effective criminal justice.

Republicans have failed again as the out-party in midterms, despite record crime and against extremist opponents. Most conservatives run the standard myopic campaign: police good, crime bad, and attack their opponent. In local elections where I live, conservatives did not attack open borders-fueled record opioid deaths or run on returning prosperity to the inner cities. They never documented decades of liberal failure and never mentioned Truth-In-Sentencing that lead to falling crime rates, that lead to falling incarceration rates too.

A truly astonishing number of conservatives never ask themselves what the payoff is, what the backend agenda is for leftists. For example, former US Attorney General William Barr said in the Wall Street Journal that progressives did not understand the relationship between incarceration and downward violent crime rates. “They missed the point” he said. Wrong, they are getting everything they want. Crime is the engine of progressive power to grow the government for purposes of largesse and for political gain. State and federal governments are forever expanded and spending shifts to more socialist redistribution.

Social spending dumps keep coming. Progressive bureaucracies keep failing as they undercut traditional criminal justice, but they create an army of partisans. The right of self-defense is whittled away. This extortion has been going on for sixty years yet most conservatives do not see or attack it. Ignorance of this history shows, for certain, that decades of failure are not used in campaigns as critical issues and the lessons of history are not learned.

Chris Kemble has published articles at American Thinker, MacIver Institute, Wisconsin Interest, Federalist Society, Wisconsin Conservative Digest, Hastings Historical Society and Canada Free Press.

Image: C. Kemble

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