Liberal prosecutors who have argued against their predecessors’ “tough-on-crime” policies are suddenly scrambling to defend their own records and results as shootings, thefts and homicides surge in major cities.
In Baltimore, where the numbers of homicides, carjackings and aggravated assaults are up, the city’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, fired off a scathing 37-page open letter to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who said her lax handling of prosecutions is contributing to the violent crime.
“Every single day my prosecutors go up against voluminous case dockets, uncooperative witnesses, and demanding judges to ensure accountability against violent individuals in this city,” Ms. Mosby wrote. “How dare you say otherwise?”
The governor said last month that Baltimore “needs a prosecutor who will actually prosecute violent criminals.”
Mr. Hogan, who is considered a potential Republican presidential contender in 2024, also launched an investigation into funding for the prosecutor’s office and demanded that Ms. Mosby turn over detailed statistics on plea deals with defendants and case dismissals.
He is also a frequent critic of Ms. Mosby’s decision to stop prosecuting low-level drug possession, prostitution and other minor offenses.
Ms. Mosby, a Democrat who has been in her position since 2014, defended herself as homicides in Baltimore topped 300 for the seventh year in a row. She told Mr. Hogan to “stop finger-pointing” and said the city’s crime rate cannot be resolved through his “antiquated tough-on-crime and zero-tolerance policing proposals.”
“‘Re-funding’ the police and more mandatory minimums do not deter crime,” she wrote.
In San Francisco, District Attorney Chesa Boudin tried Tuesday to deflect criticism that his liberal policies are to blame for the rash of smash-and-grab thefts at luxury retail stores.
“Some have wrongly accused progressive prosecutors like me of not pursuing accountability despite my office’s high prosecution rates on these kinds of crimes and our transparency on filing rates,” Mr. Boudin wrote in an op-ed for SFGate.
“The all-too-common response to these crimes has been calls for more policing and attacks on progressive reforms, but these knee-jerk reactions are short-sighted,” he said.
Mr. Boudin, a Democrat who has ended cash bail and dramatically reduced the city’s jail population since taking office in 2020, faces a recall vote in June peddled by critics who say the former public defender is too soft on crime.
Mr. Boudin’s op-ed was headlined “We’re blaming the wrong things for San Francisco retail theft” and included suggestions for “addressing the root causes of crime.” It was published a week after San Francisco Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, appeared to take a jab at Mr. Boudin while discussing efforts to combat crime.
“We need everyone to get on board, not just cops and frontline workers, but prosecutors and the courts as well,” Ms. Breed said. “Our residents should not see the same criminals back on the streets of the Tenderloin again and again, in an endless cycle of fear and frustration.”
When police make arrests, she said, it is “critical that our entire criminal justice system holds these individuals accountable.”
Betsy Brantner Smith, a spokeswoman for the National Police Association, echoed the mayor’s sentiments in a statement to The Washington Times.
“American law enforcement is short-staffed and often beleaguered, and yet as police officers continue to attempt to enforce criminal law, in many areas, progressive prosecutors decline to bring the offenders to trial. This malfeasance exacerbates the crime crisis America is currently experiencing,” said Ms. Brantner Smith, a retired police sergeant.
In Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner came under fire this month after he said the city was not experiencing a “crisis of crime,” despite recording more than 500 homicides for the first time since 1990.
That comment, he later said, was taken out of context. He said the pandemic and a lack of crime prevention efforts have exacerbated the city’s gun violence problem.
“Nationally and locally, we stripped away prevention before, and it made gun violence much worse, as this pandemic has proven all over the country,” he said. He added that stop-and-frisk policies and mass incarceration will not solve the city’s crime problem.
The district attorney issued the public statement on Dec. 9, one day after The Philadelphia Inquirer published an op-ed by former Mayor Michael A. Nutter, a Democrat. Mr. Nutter said the district attorney should “actually prosecute” violent criminals “rather than coddle them, make excuses, reduce or drop charges.”
“I have to wonder what kind of messed up world of white wokeness Krasner is living in to have so little regard for human lives lost, many of them Black and brown, while he advances his own national profile as a progressive district attorney,” said Mr. Nutter, a Democrat.
Patrick Yoes, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said rising crime rates are “what happens when elected officials embrace pro-criminal, revolving-door policies and make decisions that put the interests of the offender ahead of public safety.”
“These decisions — failures to prosecute offenders for their crimes or, even worse, releasing repeat offenders arrested for crimes who show a propensity for escalation or violence — make our communities less safe,” Mr. Yoes said.
Baltimore, San Francisco and Philadelphia are among 22 cities where the number of homicides was 4% higher during the first nine months of this year than in the same period in 2020 and 36% higher than in 2019, according to a report by the Council on Criminal Justice.
Rasmussen Reports released a report last week that shows 89% of likely U.S. voters are concerned about violent crime, including more than half (69%) who are “very” concerned.
The statistics are up from July, when 79% said they were concerned and 49% were very concerned.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat who represents San Francisco in Congress, acknowledged the national crime surge last week but stopped short of joining the blame game.
“The fact [is] that there is an attitude of lawlessness in our country that springs from I don’t know where … but we cannot have that lawlessness,” Mrs. Pelosi said.