How Defund the Police backfired, by Michael Shellenberger

Turns out the trendy theories about the why police are unnecessary don’t hold much water in real life. From Michael Shellenberger at unherd.com:

After a spike in crime, progressive cities are reversing cuts

Over the last two decades, progressives have established a new consensus on crime. Nonviolent felonies like shoplifting and drug possession should be reclassified as misdemeanours. Cities should defund the police and spend the money on nurses, psychologists and social workers instead. Offenders should have minimal involvement with the justice system — and be kept out of jail wherever possible.

But now, rising crime is rapidly undermining the progressive consensus. Homicides rose 30% in 2020, and over two-thirds of America’s largest cities will have had even more homicides in 2021 than in 2020. At least 13 big cities will set all-time records for homicides, including Philadelphia, Austin, and Portland. Meanwhile property crimes in California’s four largest cities rose 7% between 2020 and 2021. Car break-ins in San Francisco declined temporarily in 2020, because Covid emptied the city of tourists, but they have since skyrocketed, reaching 3,000 in November. Many residents have stopped bothering to report crime.

Of course, many crime rates are still below what they were in the Eighties. And progressives are right to say that we shouldn’t panic about rising crime, since past panics contributed to cruel and crude responses, including overly long prison sentences with little in the way of real rehabilitation programmes. That’s why, in the late Nineties, I worked for George Soros’s foundation, among others, advocating for drug decriminalisation, reduced sentences for nonviolent crimes, and alternatives to incarceration.

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