By David M. Greenwald
Los Angeles, CA – For a second time, organizers gathered on Monday in front of the DA’s office in Downtown Los Angeles to announce recall efforts. The group says it has raised $2.5 million and will now have 160 days to collect at least 579,000 signatures.
A previous effort fell short, collecting around 200,000 signatures.
“Enough is enough, we are determined to restore public safety in Los Angeles and end Gascón’s reign of terror over this community,” Desiree Andrade, Recall Gascon Campaign Co-Chair, said on Monday.
This time around they believe they are better funded and better prepared. Moreover, they believe rising crime rates in the county will push more residents to sign onto the recall effort.
Some cited a report from Los Angeles Magazine where Mayor Eric Garcetti took issue with how the DA’s office has handled a string of follow-home and smash-and-grab robberies over the last few months.
“There’s no place for this kind of criminal behavior. It needs to be addressed. There need to be consequences. We need a jail system that will step up and do some of the rehabilitative work,” the Mayor said.
The DA’s office on Monday also announced a man has been charged with with killing Jacqueline Avant and trying to kill her security guard during a robbery.
“Mrs. Avant was a treasured member of our community. Her generosity and good will touched so many lives,” District Attorney Gascón said. “My office is working closely with the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments in the investigation and prosecution of this case. We must continue to work together to hold accountable the people who commit violent crimes against our community.”
However, Beverly Hills Chief of Police Mark Stainbrook seemed to point blame on policies initiated by Gascon.
“Literally, we’re arresting the same people again and again and letting them right out to commit more crime,” the chief said. So, if you look at Mrs. Avant’s case, that individual has a lengthy criminal history. He was out on parole and he was out committing crime. He should never have ever been out in the first place.”
Cristine DeBerry, Founder and Executive Director of the Prosecutors Alliance of California, meanwhile fired back.
“Recall proponents stand for more punishment, not more safety,” she said. “Dated, tough-on-crime approaches have not made our communities safer, but have produced insecurity and instability that has increased recidivism rates and exacerbated homelessness in our communities. Fully 95 percent of the people we send to prison will come home, and research has consistently shown that longer sentences can actually make individuals more likely to commit future crimes. It’s time to stop the finger pointing and work with us on prevention and problem solving.”
Critics of progressive prosecutors have attempted to blame their policies on rising crime rates. But data analysis shows a much more nuanced picture, with some crimes like murder going up—but pretty much across the board, regardless of the state or who the prosecutor is.
In September, a study by the nonpartisan California Policy Lab analyzed crime trends in California, and found, “In California, homicides increased by 31% and aggravated assaults increased by 9%, while robberies decreased by 14% and rapes decreased by 8%.”
But while the homicide increase in California is alarming, attempts to blame it on California policies come into question when you recognize that nationally homicides increased across the board by about the same rate.
“Between 2019 and 2020, property crime declined by 8% in California, while violent crime increased slightly by 0.8%,” the study found. “Overall, other states have experienced larger increases in violent crime and similar decreases in property crime.”
But even that is misleading.
The report found, “California’s overall violent crime rate masks diverging trends among specific crime types: homicides increased by 31% and aggravated assaults increased by 9%, while robberies decreased by 14% and rapes decreased by 8%. These trends match those in other states.”
Further, “California experienced a 15% decrease in larceny (personal property theft) and a 20% increase in motor vehicle theft. Both trends are larger in magnitude than those in other states.”
Fordham Law Professor John Pfaff pointed out that the homicide rate has spiked largely on the watch of the status quo.
He said in September, “We should push for reforms BECAUSE homicides spiked. BECAUSE usual approaches have big social costs we don’t measure. BECAUSE there is a better way to address crime WHEN IT RISES.”