Bill Barr continues to burn the bridge between him and the public he’s supposed to represent. And why shouldn’t he? It’s not like the administration will rein him in, not when he’s willing to act as flak-catcher for the president we’ve all been forced to serve.
It’s good work if you can get it, and by “get it,” I mean subvert the idea of “justice” to mean what it apparently means to Bill Barr. The man has already declared war on the general public, and the encryption the general public uses to protect itself against criminals and state-sponsored hackers. What does “justice” mean to a man like this? It means destroying the populace to ensure cops aren’t unduly burdened by the everyday life of the people they are under no obligation to protect and serve.
Barr’s recent sermon to the converted contains more of the same. The administration that has made a mockery of the phrase “rule of law,” still insists the rule of law is the best thing since improperly-jailed black teens. Barr spoke to a conference you would swear I was making up if I couldn’t produce a link — “Major County Sheriffs of America Winter Conference.” And he delivered just what they wanted to hear: invective insulting anyone who might have the temerity to suggest we (as a nation) jail people far too frequently for far too long.
There have been a few “progressive” prosecutors elevated to the office of District Attorney. This makes Barr sad. But it makes him mostly angry. No one should be allowed to plug up the prison pipeline, not even those who realize the country is not best served by people who think the “fullest extent of the law” is the best interpretation of thousands of vague laws.
So, Barr attacks “progressive” DAs — the one who see prison is not the rehabilitation paradise so often promised by the people Barr fronts for. In fact, it can be argued Barr gives zero shits about rehabilitation. All he cares about is punishment, so it should be painfully aware he should not be heading up an agency with the word “justice” in its title.
Barr’s speech twists facts and hurls invective at those who dare to suggest the best path out of a life of crime might not run through the US penal system.
But before we get to that, let’s get to this outright lie:
You and your deputies face unprecedented challenges. Every day, deputies head out on patrol, never knowing precisely what trials they will face. And the list of assignments we give our deputies and officers keeps getting longer and longer. We no longer merely ask them to keep us safe – we ask them to manage the fallout from a vast range of social pathologies, such as mental illness, widespread homelessness, and drug abuse. It is quite a lot to ask men and women trained to protect the public from dangerous criminals to simultaneously do the jobs of social workers and psychiatrists. Yet our committed law enforcement officers do their best to carry these ever-expanding burdens.
While it’s true we do ask law enforcement officers to handle social problems, it is not truthful to say officers carry this out with the best of their abilities. Law enforcement agencies generally do not train their employees to handle these problems with a different tool set. Instead, they send them out armed with the usual tool set (guns, force deployment) that makes bad situations worse, and results in the wounding or killing of our most marginalized members of society.
But this is Barr’s biggest lie. He claims these new progressives will return us to violent crime’s heyday of the 1990s. And he does this using “facts” that claim the 90s were the safest time of all for Americans.
Another similar problem is the increasing number of district attorneys who have fashioned for themselves a new role of judge-legislator-prosecutor. These self-styled “social justice” reformers are refusing to enforce entire categories of law, including law against resisting police officers. In so doing, these DAs are putting everyone in danger.
Their policies are pushing a number of America’s cities back toward a more dangerous past. Under the district attorney in Philadelphia, the murder rate in that city is at its highest point in over a decade. Other cities with these “progressive” DAs – like San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago, and Baltimore – have all suffered historic levels of homicide and other violent crime. This is while crime nationwide, generally, is going down.
Barr is right. Nationwide violent crime is on the decline. That a few outliers are producing spikes has nothing to do with “progressive DAs” and everything to do with regression to the mean. No one can say definitively why crime has declined so much, but to pin it on Reagan-era policies (as Barr does) is fucking ridiculous.
We have seen these policies before. They reigned supreme at the state level from the 1960s to the early 1990s. During this time, violent crime rates tripled in our country. They peaked in 1991 and 1992. By that time, the country had had enough. Following the lead of the policies of the Reagan, H.W. Bush administrations, the states started to make their systems tougher on crime.
This is a lie. There is no way around this. Nobody was being “progressive” about crime/incarceration during that 30-year span. Reagan kicked off a whole new wave of “tough on crime” politicians. And his tough-talking inspired a new generation of short-sighted legislators who increased incarceration rates while crime spiraled to unparalleled levels. Perhaps Barr should be pointed to Prohibition, where its enactment caused violent crime to spike while resulting in an unprecedented number of cops being killed. It was peak “Tough on Crime,” and it resulted in more crime and more dead law enforcement officers than at any other time in our nation’s history.
Anyway, fuck this guy. Let’s hear what he has to say about “progressive DAs:”
The policies of these DAs also sabotage the effectiveness of community policing and “precision” policing, which depend heavily on obtaining information from members of the community. When DAs engage in catch-and-release and revolving-door policies, people in the neighborhood who might otherwise provide information are scared to come forward.
Hmm. Let’s just swap the words “law enforcement officials” for “DAs” in that paragraph and see if we can’t suss out why people might not trust the police.
The policies of these [police officials] also sabotage the effectiveness of community policing and “precision” policing, which depend heavily on obtaining information from members of the community. When [police officials] engage in catch-and-release and revolving-door policies, people in the neighborhood who might otherwise provide information are scared to come forward.
Law enforcement agencies operate the worst revolving door — one that allows bad cops to whitewash their past and return to work with zero lessons learned. The near-constant application of qualified immunity to rights violations makes this worse. And police unions have generated enough power politicians are afraid to cross them when implementing accountability policies, stripping them of their teeth and usefulness.
William Barr has presumed everyone but government employees to be guilty. That’s why we don’t deserve relief from the US’s world-leading incarceration rate or the protection that device encryption gives us. The general public is presumed guilty and the only people with unvarnished halos are hovering above an agency willing to sacrifice its morals to appease the man on top.
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