Saturday, November 26, 2022

Progressive Prosecutors Are Not Tied to the Rise in Violent Crime

In cities across the country, rising violent crime rates have spurred polarized political discourse around what truly keeps Americans safe in their communities. Overall violent crime and homicide rates rose significantly in 2020—increasing by 5 percent and nearly 30 percent, respectively. Despite crime data limitations for 2021, multiple sources report a slowing of these troubling trends. Critics of efforts to reform the broken criminal legal system have capitalized on public fears around rising crime to advance the unfounded claims that progressive prosecutors are to blame. But the evidence simply does not back up these accusations.

A new study led by researchers at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto—in collaboration with researchers from Rutgers University, Temple University, Loyola University of Chicago, and University of Missouri, St. Louis—rebuts claims by media outlets and elected officials that progressive prosecutors have caused crime in cities to rise. This comprehensive analysis finds no evidence linking progressive prosecutors to rising homicide rates in major cities during the coronavirus pandemic or prior to it. As researchers, policymakers, and the general public continue to investigate the causes of rising violent crime in recent years, this study contributes to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that progressive prosecution is not among them.

Violent crime is having real and devastating impacts on communities across the country, particularly communities of color, where resources and opportunities have been disinvested for decades. Rather than looking for real solutions that would make everyone safer, some politicians have taken aim at progressive prosecutors, casting blame where it does not belong. The causes of crime are complex, but one thing is clear: This study finds no evidence linking progressive prosecutors to recent rising crime rates in the major cities studied. Research on progressive prosecution should further investigate the effect their policies may have on the administration of justice, reducing poverty, and increasing the trust in the institution of government.

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