The most important criminal-justice reform that the next president must undertake has nothing to do with policy and everything to do with rhetoric, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute writes in Real Clear Policy. Unless top leaders stop expressing a “false narrative that we are living through an epidemic of racially biased police shootings,” as FBI director James Comey warned last weekend, homicides will continue to spike in racially diverse cities as officers back off of proactive policing, Mac Donald maintains. Riots following fatal encounters between officers and blacks will become more frequent, and more attempts will be made on officers’ lives.
The only thing that explains last year’s rise in homicides nationally increase is a change in policing, Mac Donald argues. She says none of the usual “root causes” invoked to explain (or justify) crime has changed: Poverty and income inequality did not worsen; unemployment did not rise. The size of the crime-prone youth cohort did not expand, nor did the inner-city open-air drug trade.
Expressing an opposing view, Danyelle Solomon of the Center for American Progress writes that the “criminal-justice system is failing the American people. Once a controversial statement, that is now a sentiment expressed across the ideological spectrum.” Solomon contends that research, data, and public opinion have created a “perfect storm of information” laying out how current policies “fail to make communities safer, and instead can ruin lives, tear apart families, and devastate entire communities.”