The Great Relearning Plods Along

Thirty-five years ago Tom Wolfe wrote “The Great Relearning” for The American Spectator, in which he predicted we’d lapse into some of the same mistakes of the 20th century, and need to re-learn some fundamental truths again from bitter experience. This imperative comes back to mind watching our big cities and criminal justice system, to name just two items, seem determined to repeat all of the liberal mistakes of the 1970s and 198os, which took a long time to recognize and crystalized into policies that work, such as locking up criminals.

Yesterday the Washington DC city council, which only months ago wanted to reduce criminal penalties for carjacking, passed new crime policy by a 12 – 1 vote that is a clear reversal of the leftist nostrums about crime of the last few years. Small wonder why. Last year saw a 33 percent increase in violent crimes, with 17 percent more homicides. This is the third straight year when DC clocked more than 200 homicides. Carjacking is out of control, up 94 percent from 2022, with 140 carjackings in June alone.

The Washington Post reports today:

The D.C. Council on Tuesday passed emergency public safety legislation as the city weathers a violent summer, establishing a new crime for firing a gun in public and making it easier for judges to detain people charged with violent offenses before trial — a provision that drew extended debate.

Ending pre-trial detention, even for violent felons, has been one of the major objects of the criminal justice reform left, and the fact that DC is reversing course shows that even slow learners can figure it out eventually. This attracted the ire of the one no vote for the policy, as local media reported:

The provisions that drew the most debate centered on the circumstances under which defendants could be detained as they await trial. Pinto’s proposal would have judges presume that adults charged with violent crimes and juveniles charged with certain offenses should be detained. . .

Council member Janeese Lewis George was the lone vote against the bill. “I was raising a concern that on an emergency basis, changing a legal standard, I think, is problematic for any legislature to do, not just our legislature,” she said. “And when we brought in such a statute when it comes to pretrial detention, there are implications we should be thinking about that 95% of people who are incarcerated and on pretrial are Black residents.

There followed the usual blather about fighting crime at the “root causes.” It is progress when this old nonsense attracts only one vote on the DC council.

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