The Forgotten Purpose of Criminal Justice: A Closer Look at Soft-on-Crime Policies

Analyzing the Impact and Excuses Surrounding Soft-on-Crime Policies

In recent years, the issue of soft-on-crime policies and their consequences has come to the forefront of public discourse. Critics argue that big-city Democrats have long relied on their constituents’ ignorance of the violence and havoc caused by these policies. The purpose of the criminal justice system, they contend, is not to solve all of society’s problems but simply to hold criminals accountable and seek justice for victims. However, instead of engaging with these arguments, many on the left offer excuses and misdirection. This article delves into the various justifications put forth by progressives and examines their validity.

Distorting the Reality of Crime Rates

Progressives often urge people not to believe their own observations, claiming that crime isn’t as bad as it seems. They cite studies that supposedly support their claims, but these studies are often methodologically flawed or misinterpreted. In reality, crime is hyperlocalized, and in some cities, the murder rate is worse today than ever before, either on a per capita basis or in real terms. Cities like St. Louis and Philadelphia bear witness to this alarming trend.

Shifting Focus to Quality of Life Crimes

Another tactic employed by the left is to shift the conversation away from violent crime and focus on so-called quality of life crimes such as shoplifting, drug possession, and prostitution. Rogue prosecutors argue that these offenses can go unenforced without adverse consequences for communities. However, the reality is that retail theft alone poses a $100 billion per year problem, and when essential establishments like grocery stores and pharmacies close due to rampant theft, it is the poorest members of the community who suffer the most.

The Political Tightrope: Appeasing the Base and Tough-on-Crime Image

Many Democrats on the national stage find themselves torn between appearing tough on crime for political gain and appeasing their radical base. This conflict was evident when President Biden refrained from vetoing a congressional resolution that rescinded the Washington, D.C., city council’s radical soft-on-crime criminal code. This decision incensed progressive Democrats in Congress, highlighting the delicate balance politicians must strike on this issue.

However, there is more to this story. Congress also overrode a local law that implemented aspects of the controversial George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which hamstrung police officers and made their jobs more difficult and dangerous. President Biden vetoed this override, allowing the law to go into effect. Consequently, the local police department in Washington, D.C., now faces a staffing crisis that is expected to worsen unless changes are made.


As writer William Voegeli aptly argues, the essential point to remember is that where there is crime, there must be punishment, or else more crime will follow. Soft-on-crime policies have far-reaching consequences that impact communities, particularly the most vulnerable. It is crucial for elected officials and citizens alike to reevaluate the purpose of the criminal justice system and prioritize holding criminals accountable while seeking justice for victims. Only by addressing these issues head-on can we hope to create safer and more secure communities for all.

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