Many City Justice Systems Dysfunctional, Barr Says

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“In many cities, the criminal justice system is becoming dysfunctional. We are seeing laws that ignore the safety of the community,” doing away with cash bail or pre-trial detention,” Attorney General William Barr told the Major Cities Chiefs Association on Friday. “We are seeing so-called ‘social justice’ [district attorneys] who do not enforce the law, and also judges who are indulgent of criminals and disregard the safety of the community.” Many government leaders “seem to have taken lower crime rates for granted” and have endorsed “misbegotten policies that led to the crime crisis in the first place,” said Barr, who also served as attorney general during the high-crime 1990s. The AG credited get-tough anticrime policies adopted then with having brought down the crime rate.

Barr called it a “false dichotomy” to say “you cannot address crime by going after the criminals” but rather should “address the ‘root causes’ of crime – which means more social spending. The defund the police movement reflects this philosophy – take funding from police and spend it on social programs.” Barr asserted that “tough law enforcement” and addressing “pathologies that contribute to crime … are not alternative approaches. They must be complementary.” He believes “defunding the police is the exact opposite of what we need to do. We need to invest more in the police and public safety,” contending that public safety budgets have remained stagnant for decades. “We need to increase investments in law enforcement,” he said. Among other Barr assertions: “Instances of deliberate, cold blooded excessive force are relatively rare and becoming rarer … The media fosters misunderstanding of the risks involved in these situations … The absolute worst thing would be to adopt the radical proposal to eliminate qualified immunity, which protects police officers from personal liability when they make good-faith errors in enforcing the law.”

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