In 2020 political activists promoted “open borders” and “catch and release” policies at the national level. They were the first of several deceptive soft-on-crime policies which were quickly extended to state and local criminal justice systems.

The new local soft-on-crime policies which were purported to protect poor minorities and timid immigrants, included policies like “defunding-the-police,” establishing “sanctuary cities,” and ordering “cashless bail,” among others. Local governments that implemented soft-on crime policies quickly learned they only protect violent career criminals, sexual predators, domestic abusers, human traffickers, drug traffickers and thieves; no one else.

The way left-wing political activists gained support for soft-on-crime policies was by strategically convincing low-income and minority groups they are oppressed and despised by the majority. That was intended to demonize the majority and falsely make them the common enemy of minorities. The divide also made it easier for angry minorities to forget initial promises that soft on crime policies would make minorities safer. Nonetheless, it quickly became clear that soft-on-crime polices make everyone, including minority groups, less safe and more vulnerable to active free-range career criminals who in turn create chaos in American communities.

Consider the first local soft-on-crime policy; “defunding the police,” which was allegedly necessary because the police are supposedly brutal and oppressive. Convinced that was true, some cities and counties de-funded their police, but quickly found it caused horrendous increases in crime and disorder. It resulted in groups of inner-city residents now begging and suing for restoration of police protection. Meanwhile, it caused large numbers of disenchanted police officers to leave policing altogether while it discouraged potential replacements from applying to become police officers at all.

Those who perpetuated soft-on-crime policies did not stop at defunding the police, instead they pushed the idea of “sanctuary cities and counties” which created another kind of hell for American cities. Sanctuary cities were conceived with the rationale that illegal immigrants who are victims of crime are afraid to go to the police because they fear the police will have them deported. Therefore, the false reasoning went; if the police are prohibited from reporting illegal immigrants who they have arrested to immigration authorities, immigrant victims and witnesses would be more comfortable dealing with the police.

The fallacy behind sanctuary cities and counties is they ignore the fact that police departments rarely ever inquire about the immigration status of victims or witnesses. Secondly, the police can obtain U-Visas for victims and witnesses, legally protecting them from deportation. In fact, large numbers of illegal immigrants voluntarily go to the police asking for U-Visas, albeit for reasons that do not apply to U-Visa requirements. The truth is illegal immigrants show no fear of dealing with the police, regardless of their illegal immigration status. The number of U-Visa applications speak for themselves.

Another particularly dangerous soft-on-crime policy known as “cashless bail” was sold to the public on the pretense of leveling the playing field for poor minorities. The activists’ justification was that conventional bail policies disproportionately impact poor black and Hispanic defendants who may stay in jail longer than other defendants because they can’t afford to pay bail.

The conventional wisdom regarding bail is to inhibit the release of any criminal defendants who pose a flight risk, or represent an ongoing danger to the community. Cashless bail fails to accomplish either objective, and it does not take into consideration the safety of potential victims, rich or poor.

When alleged violent criminals are arrested for crimes like armed robbery, rape, or murder, under soft-on-crime policies, they are immediately released back into the community where they committed their crime(s). Since most crime is intra-racial, those communities are often composed of minorities who tend to be demographically concentrated in cities and counties where crime is high. Once released, career criminals do what career criminals do; they go right on hurting people or flee the jurisdiction and hurt others.

Minority communities are not the only ones who get hurt by non-conventional soft-on-crime policies. Consider the impact of soft on crime policies on business communities concerning “retail theft.” Soft-on-crime cities or counties tend to raise the threshold for which they will prosecute shoplifters to high levels above the value of the average theft, sometimes declining to prosecute shoplifters at all. As a result, businesses suffer tremendous losses at the hands of marauding thieves and gangs, and they are often forced to close their business. Meanwhile, minority communities and others lose quality stores and neighborhood quality suffers.

Fortunately, responsible Georgia legislators have been pushing back against soft-on-crime policies throughout the state. Nevertheless, they need more vocal support from residents when they fight to prohibit defund the police policies, punish cities that harbor illegal immigrants, expand the list of charges that require cash or property bail, or endorse positive legislation like the Laken Riley Act. All Georgians need to unify and eliminate soft-on-crime policies to make Georgia safer together.

The author, a retired law enforcement veteran, served as the police chief of Savannah and Marietta.


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