The “mystery” of violent crime hides the probable cause in Rhode Island.

The mainstream media — represented for this post by Brian Amaral of the Boston Globe — may not know what is to blame for the increase in violent crime across the country, but they sure know who:

In 2019, a Rhode Island man released from a life crack-dealing sentence under the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform signed into law by President Trump, was accused of stabbing a man to death at a Providence bar. Joel Francisco has pleaded not guilty in the death of Troy Pine.

Oddly, the article doesn’t mention that progressives love to cite harsh sentences for crack-related crimes as evidence of systemic racism.

[Eric Bronson, dean of the School of Justice Studies at Roger Williams University,] points to a deep sense of anger in the country, part of which political leaders, like Trump, fostered.

“When you have politicians telling you to rough people up, that does have a direct effect on human behavior,” Bronson said.

By “political leaders like Trump,” presumably Bronson and Amaral mean Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, and Barack Obama.

The truth is that a quick look at the relevant FBI data produces no easy answers.  Some states where the “defund the police” rhetoric was strong saw below-average increases, or even decreases, in violent crime (like Oregon), while others saw above-average increases (like Minnesota).  Meanwhile heavy-lockdown California saw no big increase, while heavy-lockdown Michigan saw a big jump.  (Red-state bogeyman Florida, by the way, dipped below the national average for violent crime in 2019 for the first time since the earliest records in 1985 and didn’t see much increase in 2020.)

The most reasonable conclusion is that all of the various factors play a role and then intermix with local issues and local culture in different ways.

That makes it entirely unreasonable that Amaral’s article spends no time talking about Rhode Island policies.  Note, for example, that the article does not contain the word, “gang,” much less the Community Safety Act that took effect in Providence in the summer of 2017.  The timeline is conspicuous, because unlike the national bump in violent crime from 2019 to 2020, Rhode Island’s increase has been steady since 2018.

In fact, we can get more specific.  “Violent crime” divides into two categories, with homicide and aggravated assault shooting up since 2018 in the Ocean State (the homicide rate doubled during that time) and rape and robbery dropping along with property crimes.

With that information, consider this paragraph striving to blame “national trends” and (of course) “guns” for Rhode Island’s increase:

Many crime experts and law enforcement officials point to the social disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the wide availability of guns as contributors to the national trends that are playing out in Rhode Island. According to [Attorney General Peter] Neronha, when going to a shooting scene, it’s not unusual to see placards labeling upwards of 20 shell casings on the ground.

“Upwards of 20 shell casings” is not an indication that somebody did something reckless because his or her access to a gun was too easy.  It’s an indication of a deliberate attack or a shootout.  That probably means gangs.

Perhaps we’ll start seeing that word again when there’s a way to blame gang violence on a Republican, whereas anything Rhode Island–specific can only be blamed on Democrats.


Featured image by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash.

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