Jailbreak in Red States

Daniel Horowitz asks: “Who needs George Soros when you have Republicans. . .enacting his number one agenda item – de-incarceration?” Horowitz’s case in point is Oklahoma:

The Koch-funded “conservative” organizations have convinced Oklahoma Republicans to embark on a one-sided mission of prison release rather than stemming the tide of growing crime. They have made them feel guilty about having the highest incarceration rate of any state.

Yet rather than identifying case-by-case individuals for release, the state’s politicians successfully passed State Question 780, which downgraded drug and theft crimes across the board. They followed up with it last year by making those changes retroactive. This led to the single largest prison release in one day in our nation’s history, when 462 felons walked out the door on November 4.

The predictable result has been a crime wave.

Last week, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office announced a new task force to combat the growing burglary trend and placed the blame squarely on the new laws. “Since the threshold of certain crimes changed some felonies to misdemeanors back in 2017 we have seen a steady increase of thefts in Oklahoma County,” wrote the sheriff’s office in a Facebook post on November 13.

According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations, larceny crimes increased in Oklahoma County, by far the most populous and urban county in the state, by more than 7 percent from 2017 to 2018. The statewide problems with retail theft continue to rise. Mark Meyers, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, observed that “it’s basically just a free for all right now through portions of Oklahoma County” and that they are finding inmates bragging about how they communicate with networks of thieves. “They understand the law and even take calculators with them to make sure they are stealing less than $1,000,” said Meyers.

Oklahoma’s lenient approach to crime appears also to be producing a wave of homelessness:

Jason Hicks, the president of the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association, warned that the homeless population is “exploding” in some cities precisely because the recent leniencies are enticing them to return. “The comments that they’re getting back is, ‘We’re moving into Oklahoma because we know that we’re not going to get into any trouble and we can do our drugs and do it all day long and there’s no consequences for that issue,’” Hicks said at a recent state House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Oklahoma is not the only state in which Koch money, coupled with fuzzy thinking, is moving Republicans to embrace jailbreaks. Bill Lee, the Republican governor of Tennessee, has promised to “empty our jails.”

The deep-thinking Gov. Lee added:

It isn’t going to be easy to get that done. We have to be creative and innovative and disruptive and challenge the way we’ve been doing things forever.

Yes, with rare exceptions — the outset of the French Revolution comes to mind — we have forever declined to empty our jails. I wonder why?

Most of us are familiar with the adverse impacts of downgrading crimes and increasing prison release in major cities like San Francisco. But few understand that Republican governors are bringing San Francisco “criminal justice” policies to Red States like Oklahoma and Tennessee. By so doing, they will be bringing increased crime, homelessness, and drug abuse, as well.

That kind of creativity, innovation, and disruption is best left to George Soros and the far left. It is antithetical to conservatism and to common sense.

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