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Brennan Center to Murder Spike: Don't Worry, Be Happy

Enacting pro-criminal legislation in a time of rising crime is a tough road to hoe. Still, if you're as ideologically dug in as the Brennan Center, mere inconvenient truth about the country's two year-long murder explosion is not going to get in your way.  While the spike is too big to be entirely swept under the rug, the Center makes a yeoman effort at it by, essentially, getting a bigger and more colorful rug and hoping folks will just pay attention to how pretty it is.

I tried to unmask this two-step last year in my post here.  But just this month, the Brennan Center came out with an even more determined effort to put a smiley face on the burgeoning inventory down at the morgue.  Its report is extensive: https://www.brennancenter.org/press-release/new-analysis-crime-violence-and-murder-remain-near-historic-lows.

The new two-step phrase is that murder "remains near historic lows," without getting into too much detail too soon about why we left behind the actual lows we had achieved at the end of 2014.

Fortunately, Breitbart is on the case.
The Breitbart article is here.  It bluntly spells out the unhappy truth even a savvy outfit like the Brennan Center can't find a Smiley Face big enough to hide.  

The number of Americans murdered in major U.S. cities soared again during former President Barack Obama's last year in office, says an admission from a left-wing legal group.

However, the Manhattan-based Brennan Center tried to bury the growing pile of corpses--including many African-Americans--from public view by claiming there is no "national crime wave."

Breitbart continues:

The [Brennan] Center's report is being touted by the establishment media as evidence that President Donald Trump is wrong about rising crime--and is pushing a "law and order" agenda is not only unnecessary but veiled bigotry. (The Washington Post headlined an article by Jennifer Rubin about the report as: "Here's proof that Trump is ignorant and deluded about crime," for example.)

Brietbart then quotes me generously from an interview I gave them earlier this month:

The Brennan Center, Otis noted, insists that because crime has decreased overall [from the early 1990's], there is no long-term rise happening.  He quotes the Center's take on it:

"Crime has dropped precipitously in the last quarter-century. While crime may fall in some years and rise in others, annual variations are not indicative of long-term trends. While murder rates have increased in some cities, this report finds no evidence that the hard-won public safety gains of the last two and a half decades are being reversed."

"The ironies here are delicious," Otis said (emphasis added):

"As the Brennan Center knows, the 'hard-won public safety gains' it mentions came about for a reason. To a large extent, they came about because of a generation's worth of big changes in public policy the Center fought tooth and nail, and is still fighting--such things as a surge in the number of police; more aggressive and proactive policing strategies, including stop-and-frisk; statutes reining in the power of naive or ideological judges; and a significant increase in the use of incarceration. [Given this record], the shrewd thing to do is what the Center does--present an ominous crime picture in a gauzy and minimizing way. Unfortunately, the thousands of additional victims of violent crime our country has accumulated over the last two years do not have that luxury.

The Center gives a backhanded acknowledgement to this troubling fact when, considerably further down in its report, it buries these two short sentences:

With violence at historic lows, modest increases in the murder rate may appear large in percentage terms. Similarly, murder rates in the 30 largest cities increased by 13.2 percent in 2015 and an estimated 14 percent in 2016.

How's that? In our 30 largest cities (where the African American population is concentrated) the murder rate rose by more than a quarter in the space of just two years?

The Center points to no other two-year period in our more than 200 year history in which the murder rate has risen that fast. The well regarded (and by no means conservative) site FiveThirtyEight puts it more bluntly:

'Murder almost certainly increased substantially in the U.S. in 2016, one year after it rose at its fastest pace in a quarter century.'"

Complacency is the petri dish in which the Brennan Center and its allies in the defense bar seek to grow their mass sentencing reduction plans.  But complacency is no longer a luxury our country can afford.

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