What George Soros Doesn’t Understand About Justice and Criminality
George Soros used the Wall Street Journal yesterday to defend its financial support for “reform proxies”. He began by saying that “Americans desperately need a more thoughtful discussion of our response to crime.” I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I wrote a book (released last week) on the current national debate about crime and justice.
Unfortunately, Soros’ article failed to deliver such a thoughtful discussion. Instead, the philanthropist offered a shallow, data-free collection of platitudes (“If people trust the justice system, it will work”) and incomplete observations.
Soros highlights the statistic that “blacks in the US are five times more likely to be sent to jail than whites.” This, he says without further explanation, is “an injustice that undermines our democracy.” Such a statement was made to convince the reader that such incarcerations are mostly (if not entirely) illegitimate: they are the product of racial animosity, first and foremost. What else could it be a product of? Well, how about the disparate levels of crime? A Bureau of Justice Statistics study of homicides between 1980 and 2008 found that blacks commit homicides at a rate “almost eight times the rate of whites.”
Presenting a disparity without any mention of its causes is perhaps not a responsible way of saying that “injustice” is at work. This is a serious charge, and, as we have seen in recent years, many who believe in it are pushing (often successfully) for serious policy changes couched in vague phrasing such as “reimagining public safety.” [No original, “public safety”, em vez do usual “public security”. Em português não temos essa distinção entre safety e segurity; é tudo “segurança”. Safety é a expressão que vem sendo usada por aqueles que esgarçam o conceito de violência: se você conta uma piada, eu não me sinto mais safe (segura). Os universitários criaram os “espaços seguros”, chamados de safes spaces e não de security spaces, para se protegerem de piadas e falas politicamente incorretas. (N. t.)]
When relevant factors are taken into account, the disparities Soros points out are obvious evidence that injustice has diminished considerably, falsifying his claim. as shows a report 2014 on incarceration by the National Academies of Sciences, “Racial bias and discrimination are not primary causes of disparities in sentences, nor in incarceration rates. […] Generally speaking, when statistical controls are used to assess crime characteristics and criminal records, black defendants are, on average, sentenced with only slightly more severity than white defendants.”
I wanted Soros to be interested in even more extreme and persistent disparities, namely those concerning violent victimization. We often talk about crime in national, state, or municipal terms. While crime obviously affects society, some communities feel its scourge more than others. In 2020 — a year when homicides rose nearly 30% in the US — the share of white homicide victims fell out about 2.4% compared to 2019, while the share of black and Hispanic victims rose about 2.2%. The rate of black homicide victims was almost ten times that of whites that year. In my hometown of New York, at least 95% of gunshot victims each year, since 2008, are black or Hispanic. Blacks and Hispanics are nowhere near 95% of the city’s residents. One analysis from the University of Chicago forensics laboratory found that in that city, nearly 80 percent of homicide victims were black. It also found that nearly 20% of suspected armed violence in 2015 and 2016 had at least 20 police stints.
Soros and his beneficiaries have built a movement around the premise that criminals in cities like New York and Chicago are treated too harshly, and that “second chances” are systematically denied them. In addition to data on the degree to which repeat offenders commit violence, this claim is also falsified by the fact that criminals released from state prisons and tracked by the Bureau of Judicial Statistics had, on average, ten prior arrests and five convictions. before of his most recent arrests.
Soros offers nothing to support victims of violent crimes committed by those who have been given too many “second chances”. Perhaps that’s because, in his mind, there is “no connection between the election of reformist prosecutors and local crime rates.” To support this claim, he cites a single analysis, whose authors are — as they say in the cited article — unable to “rule out big rises or falls in any particular type of crime.”
Rather than confronting the substance of his critics’ arguments, Soros implies that they are hypocrites, drawing attention to the fact that his critics and opponents of progressive gun control measures are often the same people — ignoring, it is Of course, the supporters of such measures and those who want to keep armed criminals out of jail are also often the same people. Soros doesn’t seem to understand that sending gunmen with extensive criminal records back to the streets worsens gun violence.
Let’s hope voters begin to see the truth to which George Soros and his supporters seem blind: that while our system is imperfect, true justice require that dangerous criminals are prevented from harming innocent people.
Rafael A. Mangual is a contributing editor for the City Journal and a Nick Ohnell Fellow and head of research at the Manhattan Institute’s Policing and Public Safety Initiative. He is also the author of ‘Criminal (In)Justice: What the Push for Decarceration and Depolicing Gets Wrong and Who It Hurts Most’[(In)Justiça Criminal: O que o incentivo para o desencarceramento e o despoliciamento tem de errado e quem mais prejudica].