San Diego Sector Border Patrol officials say an alleged human smuggler assaulted two agents following a vehicle pursuit. Agents found four Mexican nationals who were allegedly smuggled by the driver — a U.S. citizen.
Chesa Boudin, San Francisco’s notoriously progressive district attorney, announced Wednesday that his office will no longer support cash bail, becoming the latest law enforcement figure to come out against the practice.
Instead of asking judges to set cash bail as a condition of a defendant’s release before trial, Boudin’s office will instead proffer a “risk assessment” as to whether or not a defendant is likely to abscond or pose a threat to public safety. The abolition of bail was one of Boudin’s main promises during his campaign for D.A. last year, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
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“For years I’ve been fighting to end this discriminatory and unsafe approach to pretrial detention,” Boudin said. “From this point forward, pretrial detention will be based on public safety, not on wealth.”
The move further marks Boudin—the son of jailed left-wing terrorists who campaigned on refusing to prosecute quality-of-life offenses—as at the forefront of the “progressive prosecutor” movement. It is also another milestone in the push for abolishing cash bail, a practice opponents call unfair and socioeconomically discriminatory. California criminal justice experts the Washington Free Beacon spoke to, however, cautioned that Boudin’s decision was both outside of his discretion and will likely further embroil his city in a petty crime crisis.
Boudin’s decision extends the work of his predecessor, George Gascón, who helped organize a pilot program to use a risk assessment algorithm to help judges make bail decisions. Boudin’s office on Wednesday praised the tool, which was designed by the left-leaning Laura and John Arnold Foundation, a major player in the bail reform movement. Six percent of individuals released by the algorithm reoffended, KQED reports, while 20 percent failed to appear for subsequent hearings.
Boudin’s announcement adopts a familiar argument from opponents of cash bail—imposing a monetary barrier to release discriminates on the basis of wealth, meaning that poor people are routinely locked up without even having been convicted. As Boudin’s campaign put it on its website, “Money bail is the system where innocent people can be kept in jail because they’re poor, while wealthy people who are guilty and dangerous go free.”
At the same time, the end of bail may mean higher rates of release, particularly for petty criminals, i.e., those not judged dangerous by the algorithm, but are a nuisance to society. That could be a major issue for a city already struggling with quality-of-life offenses.
As the Free Beacon recently reported, San Francisco has faced a surge of transit crime, which a grand jury report linked to pervasive disorder and fare evasion. Such disorder extends to San Francisco’s streets, which are increasingly strewn with “trash, needles, and human feces.” Drug overdose is also on the rise, as preliminary data from the San Francisco Chronicle indicate that deaths involving the opioids fentanyl and heroin more than doubled between 2018 and 2019.
Amid this chaos, Boudin said during his campaign that he would not prosecute quality-of-life offenses like “public camping, offering or soliciting sex, public urination, and blocking a sidewalk,” but would instead focus on police misconduct and corporate crime.
Kerry Jackson, a fellow at the Pacific Research Institute who has written on public safety issues, told the Free Beacon that Boudin’s choice to end cash bail is part-and-parcel with his unwillingness to address San Francisco’s crime problems.
“It fits with his decision to look the other way at the quality-of-life crimes that are driving the city downward,” Jackson said. “I think people are going to say he’s making the best effort possible to increase crime in San Francisco. That might not be his intention, but that’s likely to be the outcome.”
There’s another concern about Boudin’s decision: whether he has the discretion to unilaterally abolish cash bail. Although San Franciscans elected Boudin knowing his plans for money bail, a larger controversy around bail reform is still brewing in the Golden State. In 2018, then-governor Jerry Brown (D.) signed legislation, S.B. 10, to abolish cash bail statewide. But a coalition organized to get a veto referendum on the 2020 ballot, putting S.B. 10 on hold until Californians decide if cash bail should be enshrined in their state constitution.
Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, told the Free Beacon that Boudin’s move risks usurping this democratic process.
“California’s Constitution and laws include cash bail in appropriate cases, and it is not for the district attorney to repeal these provisions by not requesting bail,” Scheidegger said. “Judges should continue the present practice until the people vote on it in November, no matter what the DA says.”
Both Boudin’s decision and the California referendum play into the national drama of the ongoing “bail reform” debate. A number of states have implemented various alternatives to cash bail. Early evidence suggests that there have been successes, but some jurisdictions have also faced backlash. Alaska rolled back its bail reforms after violent crime rates soared (although whether the changes caused the increase is up for debate). New York state is facing its own crisis as its bail reform law, in effect since the start of the year, has been blamed for exacerbating the rash of anti-Semitic violence in New York City and outlying suburbs.
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The post Trump-Supporting Man Murdered by His Employee in Politically Motivated Attack: Police appeared first on The Western Journal.
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Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday announced the formation of a presidential commission on criminal justice, revitalizing a body that in the 1960s fundamentally altered the American criminal justice system.
The new members of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice took their oath of office, administered by Barr, Wednesday morning, and immediately set to work on their agenda for the coming months. Barr’s remarks linked their work to the last such commission, which was organized by President Lyndon Johnson.
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“President Trump is an unwavering supporter of our men and women in blue, and he recognized that this commission is much needed to support law enforcement,” Barr said. “It is, to be sure, long overdue. The last time there was a national commission on law enforcement was in 1965.”
Barr’s allusion to the Johnson crime commission sets the stage for a comprehensive reassessment of the criminal justice system. The new commission’s work will likely highlight how the challenges of criminal justice have changed radically over the past half century.
The new commission is a diverse group of law enforcement officers, litigators, and stakeholders from local, state, and federal jurisdictions. It will be chaired by Phil Keith, who currently serves as the director of the Community Oriented Policing Services office within the Justice Department. Other board members include local sheriffs and police chiefs, U.S. attorneys, the Florida attorney general, and the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
This group, Barr said Wednesday, will discuss key issues facing law enforcement in the 21st century. These include the challenges of mental illness; improving officer recruitment, training, and retention; understanding the rise of mental health problems among police officers; the challenges of new technologies; the causes and effects of “diminished respect” toward police officers; and the better incorporation of social services organizations into the policing process.
The push to establish a new commission on crime has commanded bipartisan backing. Senators Gary Peters (D., Mich.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), and John Cornyn (R., Tex.) introduced legislation to establish a commission modeled on the one from 1965. President Donald Trump issued an executive order in October that formally established the commission Barr swore in Wednesday.
Cornyn cheered Wednesday’s news as a step in the right direction for American criminal justice.
“An objective review system is necessary to reform our outdated criminal justice system and strengthen law enforcement’s ties to our communities,” he told the Washington Free Beacon. “I’m grateful to the Administration for taking this important step, and I look forward to working with them to build upon their efforts to reform our justice system and increase public safety.”
Trump’s order articulates the commission’s function as the study of “issues related to law enforcement and the administration of justice.” It is also instructed to, within a year, furnish Barr with a final report, presumably similar in scope to the Johnson commission’s own 350-page report.
That original 1967 report, The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, is widely considered—even by critics—a landmark in the history of American criminal justice. During the 1964 presidential election, Johnson opponent Barry Goldwater slammed the incumbent for his lack of focus on America’s rising crime problem. After Johnson won, he placed greater emphasis on law and order.
The 1967 report is responsible for many of today’s standard law enforcement practices. The Challenge of Crime recommended technological improvements including separate radio bands for police, fingerprinting systems, and an emergency hotline number which later became 911. It was one of the first major documents to recommend combating “ordinary street crime” as a matter of policy, concretizing Johnson’s “war on crime.” It also systematized the role of the federal government as a major funder of local and state law enforcement, with spending reaching $56 billion by 2016.
The Johnson Crime Commission followed on the 1929 National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, generally known as the Wickersham Commission, which conducted some of the first systematic observation of law enforcement in the United States.
Barr, in his remarks, noted that radical changes in technology make a new crime commission all the more urgent.
“The incredible pace of technological change has meant the rapid evolution of new ways to commit and conceal crimes,” he said. “All of you, because you’re on the front lines, see this every day—from the proliferation of synthetic opioids to the use of warrant-proof encryption and the dark web to sexually exploit the most vulnerable members of society.”
Important, too, is the trend of crime rates since the ’60s. In the years immediately following the Johnson commission, America experienced a precipitous increase in violent crime, with the per capita rate rising nearly 400 percent between 1960 and 1991. Then, crime began an almost equally precipitous decline—today, it stands at roughly the lowest rate in the past 30 years.
Since multiple factors contribute to the crime rate, there is no one explanation as to what caused crime to rise and then drop. The new commission is not tasked with offering such an explanation, but it will have to think hard about how to make sure a crime wave does not happen again.
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