The Forgotten Purpose of Criminal Justice: Holding Criminals Accountable and Seeking Justice for Victims

Progressive Excuses and Misdirection in the Face of Rising Crime Rates

In recent years, big-city Democrats have been accused of turning a blind eye to the violence and havoc caused by soft-on-crime policies. The purpose of the criminal justice system, as William Voegeli argues in his essays, is not to solve all of society’s problems but to hold criminals accountable and seek justice for victims. Unfortunately, in many cities, this fundamental principle is being forgotten. Instead of addressing the well-reasoned arguments put forth by Voegeli, progressives offer a series of excuses and misdirection. This article will explore these tactics and shed light on the consequences they have on communities.

Denying the Reality of Rising Crime Rates

Progressives often urge people not to believe their own eyes when it comes to crime rates. They rely on questionable studies that downplay the severity of the issue. However, these studies are often methodologically flawed or misinterpreted. The hyperlocalized nature of crime means that in some cities, the murder rate is at an all-time high, either on a per capita basis or in real terms. By dismissing the reality of rising crime rates, progressives fail to acknowledge the urgent need for accountability and justice.

Shifting Focus to Quality of Life Crimes

Another tactic employed by the left is to pivot 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 crimes can go unenforced without adverse consequences. However, the impact of these offenses should not be underestimated. Retail theft alone amounts to a staggering $100 billion per year problem. 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. Ignoring quality of life crimes only exacerbates the overall crime problem.

The Political Balancing Act

Many Democrats on the national stage find themselves caught between appearing tough on crime and appeasing their radical base. Voegeli highlights President Biden’s refusal to veto a congressional resolution that rescinded Washington, D.C.’s radical criminal code, which enraged progressive Democrats in Congress. However, there is more to this story. Congress also overrode a local law implementing aspects of the failed 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 take effect. As a result, the D.C. police department faces a staffing crisis that is likely to worsen without intervention. This political balancing act undermines the fundamental goal of holding criminals accountable and seeking justice.


Voegeli’s argument that crime must be met with punishment to prevent further crime is a crucial reminder for all elected officials and citizens. Progressives’ denial of rising crime rates, focus on quality of life crimes, and political maneuvering undermine the core principles of the criminal justice system. It is essential to address these issues head-on and prioritize the safety and well-being of communities. Only by holding criminals accountable and seeking justice for victims can we hope to create a society that is truly just and secure.

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