In the past several years, voters in several major American cities have elected local prosecutors who run their offices more like ACLU chapters than bulwarks against crime and disorder. Cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Kansas City, KS all have chief prosecutors who espouse the “social justice” philosophy. In particular, these political operators have shifted the focus away from prosecuting criminals and toward de facto legalization of drugs, theft, trespassing, and other crimes that erode communities. They have also made it clear to law enforcement officers that they have a target on their back and may face criminal prosecution at any moment just for doing their job.
Communities who now have social justice warriors at the helm of their prosecutor’s office are, sadly, those that struggle most with crime and can least afford to dabble in social experimentation. Prosecutors have always represented the public’s interest in being free from crime. But the new age prosecutors are far less concerned with protecting the public from criminals and are, instead, focused on protecting criminals from the police. There is little question that this experiment will be to the detriment of public safety.
Criminals must face the realistic prospect of incarceration. In order to accomplish this, police and prosecutors must work together to build strong cases and pursue convictions for appropriate charges. In cases involving serious or violent crime, the prosecutors most important job is to ensure the public is protected. Appeasing voters narrowly focused on “social justice” with promises of “decarceration,” legalizing drugs, theft, trespassing, or aggressively going after police officers will further decline conditions in our most crime-challenged communities.