AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
A new report released earlier this month from the Department of Justice found that a shocking 77% of criminals entering state prisons in 2014 and 2009 had been arrested five or more times, and most were incarcerated for violent offenses. The findings of the study run directly counter to the assertions of liberal proponents of the “deincarceration movement” and “prison abolitionists,” raising serious concerns about Democrat efforts to release more prisoners back onto the streets.
The report authored by the Bureau of Justice Statistics is one of the most comprehensive in recent history, reviewing data from millions of arrests across 34 states in 2014 and 29 states in 2009. In both of those years, “persons admitted to state prison had a median of nine prior arrests in their criminal histories.”
Across both years studied, 95% of incoming prisoners had two prior arrests and 90% had three prior arrests. 30% of prisoners overall were arrested on guns and weapons charges and 74% were arrested for violent offenses, including 4.5% for murder and 12.5% for rape. This tracks with separate, more recent data which found that 62% of individuals held in state prisons are incarcerated for violent offenses.
Most alarmingly, 52% of people imprisoned in 2014 were released by the end of 2015, according the study. Of those released, 59% were arrested at least once within two years. 16% of the criminals released were re-arrested for violent offenses.
Sean Kennedy, the director of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, called the data “irrefutable proof that leniency – masquerading as compassion – is folly.” He continued, “We aren’t giving most criminals second chances but six, seven, or 20 chances. Even those who get real jail time don’t serve it, and it’s only gotten much worse with the rise of pro-criminal Soros prosecutors, who’d rather give some of these offenders a medal than a jail sentence.”
DOJ’s findings run directly counter to claims from Democrat politicians that most prisoners are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes and are first-time offenders.
The report also underscores the potential danger posed by Democrat efforts in recent years to dramatically reduce prison populations or shut down prisons entirely. In 2021, for instance, New York Democrats Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Jamal Bowman, Jerry Nadler, Nydia M. Velazquez, and several others signed an open letter calling on New York to immediately shut down Rikers Island and release all prisoners held within, citing inhumane conditions and concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
They wrote, “The current conditions experienced at Rikers are inhumane, unconstitutional, and a public health crisis. We believe federal funds should be used to decarcerate and shut down the facility immediately.” New York Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio both declined to do so.
As Kennedy alluded to, one of the most outsized and influential leaders in the deincarceration movement is billionaire liberal booster George Soros, who has funneled millions of dollars to so-called “reform” prosecutors around the country. These district attorneys have enacted some of the most comprehensive “bail reform” laws in history, permitting thousands of criminals to remain out of prison entirely. In many cases, they have also entirely refused to pursue charges against offenders with long rap sheets.
In August 2022, for instance, ten career criminals racked up over 500 arrests in New York City while remaining out of prison. One criminal, Harold Gooding, has been arrested 101 times, 88 of which occurred following the bail reforms. Yet Soros-backed Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg – who is now infamously litigating an indictment against former President Donald Trump – has failed to put Gooding or dozens of other career criminals behind bars.
Deincarceration proponents have argued that many crimes are nonviolent, like larceny. Yet even nonviolent crimes have a calamitous effect on the social health of a community. Smash-and-grab thefts have led stores like Walgreens to close dozens of locations in San Francisco – a factor that played heavily in Soros-backed DA Chesa Boudin’s recall by voters last year.
Last week, Walmart also announced it was closing four stores in Chicago because of ongoing losses and repeat criminal activity, all of which were located in economically disadvantaged communities. Now, because of so-called “victimless” crimes, poor families will have to pay more and travel further for essential groceries. The loss of these stores also means the loss of jobs in areas that are in desperate need of them.
However, despite clear evidence of the detrimental effect of crime – even nonviolent crime – on communities and more evidence that releasing career criminals only leads to more crime, Democrats appear determined to continue putting the interests of repeat offenders above those of law-abiding citizens.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.