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Progressive leaders have ushered in criminal justice reforms theoretically intended to rectify the imbalance of Black Americans who are arrested, convicted and incarcerated. But in practice, in cities like New York, these reforms have backfired, resulting in a spike in crime, with more Black Americans victimized and more Black Americans incarcerated, according to experts.
“A lot of these policies were designed explicitly around the idea that Blacks are so disproportionately represented in the people who are arrested and the people who are prosecuted and convicted and incarcerated — and trying to design criminal justice policy to back-engineer that number to be more on par with the racial demographics of everybody of society,” Hannah E. Meyers, director of the policing and public safety initiative at the Manhattan Institute, told Fox News Digital in a phone interview Monday. “That in itself has created a bigger problem.”
Meyers and Jim Quinn, a former executive district attorney in the Queens district attorney’s office, recently published an essay in the New York Times arguing that by “aiming for racial equity in criminal justice rather than focusing solely on deterring and responding to crime, policymakers seem to have neglected the foundational purpose of law and order.”
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“What has followed — a sharp rise in victims of crime, who remain disproportionately Black, and a slight increase in the percentage of Rikers Island inmates who are Black — is a racial imbalance of a more troubling kind,” the authors wrote in the article.
New York City is grappling with skyrocketing crime. Murders went up 52% from 2019 to 2021, while shootings were up 104% and car theft 91%. In 2020, Black New Yorkers were victims in 65% of murders and 74% of shootings, the authors of the NYT essay wrote.
In New York, policing and incarceration policies have been at the forefront of debate and such policies took effect as Black Lives Matter protests and the defund the police movement hit a fever pitch in 2020.
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Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2017 supported releasing thousands of inmates at Rikers Island through the city’s “supervised release” program. In 2019, New York lawmakers passed sweeping changes to the state’s bail laws that restrict crimes where judges can set bail. Also, in 2019, New York passed discovery reform, which required prosecutors to disclose their evidence to the defense earlier in case proceedings.
“I think you could talk to any prosecutor, especially any line prosecutor or anyone that’s recently left a DAs office in a more senior role, and they will tell you … that discovery reform is having an enormous impact on crime,” Meyers told Fox News Digital in a phone interview Monday.
The reforms were put in place as former Mayor Bill de Blasio moved to defund the police, which brought with it the end of the NYPD’s plainclothes unit and reassigning officers.
Meyers and Quinn wrote that such reforms are “harming Black New Yorkers” and they pointed to increasing crime levels in largely Black neighborhoods of NYC.
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“In the police precinct that covers most of the Brownsville neighborhood as well as adjacent Ocean Hill, where around three-quarters of the residents are Black, shootings at the end of last year were up 144 percent, and murders were up 91 percent from two years earlier,” they wrote.
Meyers said that “clearly there are issues we should be talking about, about why there’s so much more criminality” in minority communities, but “you have to look upstream.”
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“You can’t fix them necessarily by changing who you arrest or who you incarcerate. That’s a colorblind system. That’s not where you can insert the … do-gooder fixing of it,” Meyers told Fox News Digital.