On the Ropes
Progressive prosecutors are being ousted, one by one.
Last week, Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby lost in the Democratic primary contest to retain her position. Around the country, other de-prosecuting prosecutors are being removed one by one, as their failing policies and ethical problems culminate in disorder and public distrust. Is the progressive prosecutor movement on the decline?
Mosby’s original campaign platform was to ignore entire categories of crimes and to reduce sentences even for violent criminals. The criminals got the message: Baltimore was a free-fire zone. Homicides exceeded 300 per year in the Charm City every year that Mosby was in office, making Baltimore one of the nation’s most dangerous municipalities. People and businesses fled the city, with over 35,000 residents exiting, even as the rest of Maryland grew in population. Just a few weeks before the primary, a report from the Maryland Public Policy Institute detailed how many of the homicides in Baltimore were committed by criminals who would have been in jail under a normal prosecution regime. Mosby did not help her position by ending up under federal indictment for perjury charges alleging that she made false statements while applying for pandemic-related loans to buy a vacation home in Florida. Mosby’s victorious opponent, Ivan Bates, is something of an unknown quantity, but he campaigned explicitly on a public-safety platform, as his campaign materials make clear: “To build a safer Baltimore, we must have a functional and efficient prosecutor’s office led by a State’s Attorney who prioritizes public safety.”
Mosby is not the only radical prosecutor for whom the bell has tolled or is tolling. In San Francisco, Chesa Boudin’s loss made national headlines. In St. Louis, circuit attorney Kim Gardner faces a three-headed problem of spiking homicides, persistent ethics complaints, and line prosecutors fleeing her office. In Chicago, state’s attorney Kim Foxx has de-prosecuted her city into record levels of violence, the Jussie Smollett embarrassment, and her own ethics investigation. New Orleans district attorney Jason Williams, another George Soros-backed prosecutor who promised to dismantle the criminal-justice system and instead put his city into contention for the title of murder capital of America, is being tried in federal court for tax fraud. And in Seattle, King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg—a moderate Republican who pivoted to progressivism—has announced that he would not seek reelection after 14 years in office.
If some American cities that have experienced the consequences of progressive prosecution are rebelling, others can still be lured into repeating the same mistakes. Oakland recently made avowed progressive reformer and civil rights attorney Pamela Price the leading vote-getter in the primary election for Alameda County district attorney. Apparently, Oaklanders missed the lesson delivered just across the Bay Bridge and in numerous other cities across America: a prosecutor who refuses to prosecute violent criminals will invite more violence on the law-abiding.
Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for BET Networks
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