Tough-on-Crime Cash Bail Initiatives Win in Ohio and Alabama

“Ohio’s new constitutional amendment will allow judges to set a dollar amount commensurate with a person’s criminal record, the seriousness of their alleged crime, and their odds of appearing at court following pretrial release. The Ohio Senate ushered the initiative forward in direct response to a ruling from the state’s highest court, which said in early January that bail could only be used to ensure a defendant’s presence at trial—the constitutionally prescribed reason for its use.

In Alabama, voters were tasked with deciding if the state should be able to deny bail for certain offenses if the government can convince a judge that the defendant poses a threat to the community or cannot be trusted to return to court. Those offenses include murder; first-degree kidnapping, rape, and sodomy; sexual torture; first-degree domestic violence, human trafficking, burglary, arson, and robbery; terrorism; and child abuse.”

“the debate has become increasingly politicized. Many reformers say that a dangerousness standard is racist, while law-and-order politicians are likely to present any bail reform as a driver of violent crime.
The answer is more nuanced than either major political party would want their base to believe.”

Don’t Believe the People Blaming Crime on Defunded Police

“Of the 109 areas examined, 49 raised law enforcement funding by more than 10 percent and 91 raised it by at least 2 percent. Only 8 places cut funding to law enforcement by more than 2 percent.
Nonetheless, politicians, pundits, and police persist in spreading the politically convenient myth that law enforcement agencies have been massively defunded. “Despite what the public record shows, an analysis of broadcast transcripts reveals that candidates, law enforcement leaders and television hosts discussed the impact of ‘defunding the police’ more than 10,000 times the last two years and the mentions aren’t subsiding this campaign season,” ABC found.

Take scandal plagued Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. He claims that crime is up because “defunding has consequences.” Meanwhile, “his agency’s budget is up more than $250 million,” according to ABC. In Los Angeles County, the police budget was up to $3.6 billion in 2021–2022, from $3.3 billion in 2018–2019.”

Is Crime Getting Better or Worse? We Don’t Really Know.

“despite those specific-sounding FBI numbers, we don’t really know the current crime rate. The feds recently changed the way they compile data, and reporting law-enforcement agencies have yet to catch up.

“In 2021, the FBI retired its nearly century-old national crime data collection program, the Summary Reporting System used by the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program,” Weihua Li of The Marshall Project, which specializes in journalism about criminal-justice issues, reported earlier this year. “The agency switched to a new system, the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which gathers more specific information on each incident.”

“Unfortunately, despite the advantages of the newer National Incident Based Reporting System, many state and local law enforcement agencies have yet to make the switch,” the Brennan Center’s Ames Grawert and Noah Kim commented this month. “Law enforcement agencies covering just over half of the population reported a full year’s worth of data to the FBI in 2021. By comparison, the FBI’s recent reports have been based on data from agencies covering upwards of 95 percent of the population.”

“The gap includes the nation’s two largest cities by population, New York City and Los Angeles, as well as most agencies in five of the six most populous states: California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Florida,” added Li.”

“There are other sources of crime data aside from the FBI, point out the Brennan Center’s Grawert and Kim. But those sources, public and private, don’t entirely agree with each other. Some show increases in homicides and violent crime in 2021, though at a slower pace than in 2020; others show a decline. These sources also aren’t as well-known as the FBI data which, despite the flaws of the old methodology, gave us comparable information year after year.”

“So, is crime getting better or worse? You can make an educated judgment about your own community. But on a larger scale, like most everything else right now, it will be a while before we sort out the mess.”

Biden cites Jan. 6 riot chant as he condemns ‘despicable’ attack on Paul Pelosi

“The perpetrator’s shouts of “Where’s Nancy?” during the home invasion early Friday morning echoed the chants of pro-Trump rioters who searched the Capitol’s halls for the speaker in a bid to stop the certification of Biden’s 2020 victory.

“This is despicable. There’s no place in America. There’s too much violence — political violence — too much hatred, too much vitriol,” Biden said. “And what makes us think one party can talk about stolen elections, Covid being a hoax, [that it’s] all a bunch of lies, and it not affect people who may not be so well balanced? What makes us think that it’s not going to alter the political climate? Enough is enough is enough.””

Number of American Mass Murders Relatively Steady Since 2006

“The data come from USA Today, Northeastern University, and the Associated Press, which tracked mass murders in which four or more people (excluding the killer) were killed in a 24-hour period.”

“Needless to say, murders of any kind are tragic. But the database challenges the conventional wisdom about mass murders, showing that their frequency has held relatively steady since 2006.
In 2006, there were 38 mass killings—the second highest number in the database. The year with the highest number was 2019, with 45 incidents (including 8 public shootings, 25 non-public shootings, and 12 non-shooting incidents). In 2008, there were 36 mass killings and 35 in 2021. On the lower end, there were 22 mass killings in 2012; there were 25 each in 2013, 2014, and 2018; and there were 26 in 2007. There have been 19 incidents so far in 2022.”

“”A guy who kills his wife and children and sometimes kills himself is the most common type of mass killing,” Fox told USA Today. “Mass killings take place far more often in private homes than in schools, markets or churches.””

Why the DOJ won’t talk about its investigation of Donald Trump

“In case there is any doubt, the Justice Department has very good reasons to keep its lips shut about ongoing criminal investigations.
One reason is fairly obvious. If prosecutors and law enforcement speak openly about a criminal investigation, they could reveal information to a suspect that could undercut the investigation. Trump could conceivably destroy evidence if he knows the DOJ is looking for it, or he might attempt to intimidate a witness if he knows that witness is one of the DOJ’s sources.

Indeed, while the Supreme Court has said that “the courts of this country recognize a general right to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents,” lower courts have held that this right can be overcome by the government’s need to keep sensitive information about ongoing investigations secret. As the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which oversees federal cases in Florida, said in one case, documents may be kept secret when there is a “substantial probability that the government’s ongoing investigation would be severely compromised if the sealed documents were released.”

(That doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire warrant affidavit in Trump’s case must be kept secret, but it does mean that it will likely remain under seal if it could compromise the DOJ’s investigation of Trump.)

There’s also another reason the Justice Department rarely speaks about ongoing investigations: Doing so is unfair to criminal suspects — including Trump.

If Trump is eventually indicted for an alleged violation of a federal criminal law, he has a right to stand trial and will have an opportunity to present evidence that he is, in fact, innocent. Assuming that he does not accept a plea deal, a jury will weigh the evidence and return a verdict of “guilty” or “not guilty.” Technically, a “not guilty” verdict would not be a declaration that Trump is actually innocent — it merely means that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt — but it would go a long way toward clearing the cloud of suspicion that hangs over anyone charged with a crime.

But if the Justice Department speaks openly about a criminal investigation before anyone is actually arrested, they place that cloud over a criminal suspect’s head without giving that suspect a forum to vindicate their reputation. As former deputy attorneys general Jamie Gorelick and Larry Thompson explained in a 2016 Washington Post op-ed, the Justice Department’s “long-standing and well-established traditions limiting disclosure of ongoing investigations” that might influence elections prevent prosecutors from “creating unfair innuendo to which an accused party cannot properly respond.”

So we should expect the Justice Department to be very quiet from here on out about its investigation of Donald Trump, unless that investigation leads to arrests. This silence is not an attempt to stonewall. It is consistent with longstanding DOJ policies that protect both the department and anyone accused of a federal crime.”

Republicans who blast FBI’s Trump search are prepping to snag Joe in a Hunter Biden probe

“These days, Republicans are making no secret of their plans to use a Hunter Biden inquiry next year as a platform to go after his father — after years of brushing off conflicts of interest within Trump’s family. No evidence has emerged to show that the business dealings of Hunter Biden, who’s faced a years-long federal investigation, affected his father’s decisions as president.

GOP lawmakers are pushing ahead anyway, planning a sprawling probe that will reach into the ethics of Hunter Biden’s artwork sales and other business deals, as well as policy decisions by the Biden administration.”