Commentary by Jason Miyare originally published by RealClearPolitics.com
While most Americans were focused on partisan polarization in Washington, D.C., the U.S. criminal justice system has been quietly transformed by a group of radically liberal billionaires and millionaires. They have attacked our system of justice at its roots, bankrolling the campaigns of activist district attorney candidates who promise to give criminals soft sentences in the name of so-called social justice and equity.
Now self-styled progressive district attorneys, many of whom toppled conventional Democratic opponents across the country by running to their left, are enforcing their own warped sense of social justice instead of the actual law. Unsurprisingly, crime has risen in our cities – the Council on Criminal Justice found that in 2021, murders increased in every major city in the U.S. My own state of Virginia is currently experiencing its highest murder rate in two decades.
The idea that being lenient on violent criminals will create a more just society is both naive and counterintuitive. Eliminating criminal justice is not criminal justice reform.
A new report from Capital Research revealed that progressives have spent nearly $30 million backing liberal activist district attorneys in over 20 communities, including big cities like Los Angeles and New York City, northern Virginia suburbs outside Washington, D.C., and rural communities in Georgia and Mississippi.
In Manhattan, the radical left spent over $1 million electing Alvin Bragg who, shortly after being sworn in, released a memo stating that his office would not seek any prison sentences for crimes such as armed robbery, drug dealing, and burglaries. Consequently, 72 of the 77 police precincts have seen an increase in crime; in Manhattan, NYPD CompStat numbers reveal that burglaries, grand larcenies, and felony assaults are rising at a rapid pace. These crimes not only violate decency in daily life – they’re also gateway offenses for people who become career criminals.
Meanwhile, in the northern Virginia suburbs outside of Washington, D.C., liberal activist attorneys have been elected in Arlington County, Fairfax County, and Loudoun County. Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano recently decided not to prosecute more than 20 different categories of crimes. Descano is trying to usurp the legislature’s rightful role of deciding what is illegal and what is not – and he’s putting the public at risk in the process. Since Descano’s election, the murder rate in Fairfax County has doubled, prompting a recall petition.
In fact, the alleged serial killer responsible for the murder and attempted murders of multiple homeless men in D.C. and New York City was previously arrested in Fairfax County. Steve Descano fought to lower his sentence and returned him to the streets.
Those murders shouldn’t have happened. The “criminal first, victim last” mindset behind this tragedy is a danger to the public.
In an effort to make our cities and suburbs more secure, we need district attorneys who will follow the law instead of giving criminals a slap on the wrist. Arbitrary and inconsistent enforcement creates the dangerous precedent that there are no consequences for breaking the law.
The great irony is that the vast majority of the liberal elites bank-rolling this soft-on-crime agenda live in wealthy, gated neighborhoods and will never experience the consequences of their advocacy. The victims of this agenda are the poor, the working class, and the marginalized.
As a former city prosecutor, I’ve held the hands of victims. I know that their worst fear is being forgotten, and that the person who hurt them will hurt someone else. That’s why I am proud to announce that I will serve as honorary chairman of Protecting Americans Project Action Fund.
This organization will serve as a new firewall to stop the advancement of dangerous left-wing prosecutors and their warped sense of justice. We will support individuals in key state and local elections who are committed to enforcing the law, calling balls and strikes, and putting the safety of our communities first.
Together, Protecting Americans Project Action Fund will work to elect officials who believe that our judicial system should be consistent and impartial, rather than serving as a fiefdom for liberal activist district attorneys administering the law as they see fit. We’ll work to restore accountability in the judicial process and faith that prosecutors will enforce the law and do the jobs they were elected to do.
Jason Miyares is attorney general of Virginia and the first Hispanic elected statewide in Virginia. He was previously a prosecutor in the City of Virginia Beach.