Today, Washington, D.C., is a dangerous place to be.
In our nation’s capital, providing for your family, shopping for basic necessities or even walking your dog could make you a target for criminals. The city just wrapped one of the most violent years on record, with 959 carjackings and 274 homicides, a 20-year high.
In the midst of the tragic stories being shared by the media and across platforms like TikTok, one story is particularly poignant. In early November, a local D.C. television station reported that a 12-year-old carjacking suspect was turned in to the police by his mother.
As a mom myself, I can only imagine the agony the young boy’s mother must have faced when reporting her own child. It is instinctive for mothers to protect our children at all costs, and the news report detailed the efforts she made to seek counseling for her son when she saw signs of trouble.
Even though it must have been unimaginably hard, this mom didn’t look the other way when her son needed help, even if it meant the possibility of prison. Politicians and elected leaders need to follow her lead.
Rising crime among juveniles is a growing epidemic not only in Washington, D.C., but in cities across the country. Assault and robbery arrests among juveniles rose 59% last year in Baltimore, and Chicago saw a more than 42% increase in juvenile arrests for felony charges. In New York City, officials are seeking to expand youth detention center capacity in response to an increase in juvenile arrests for serious crimes.
As these numbers increase, there are growing concerns about the number of kids and young adults who commit crimes and then return to the streets only to re-offend. Last month in Los Angeles, a 13-year-old was arrested for vandalizing a local bakery and then arrested again less than a day later for robbery.
And, in D.C., a 15-year-old carjacking suspect was sent home by a local judge, despite having seven carjacking-related arrests.
The city leader responsible for handling juvenile crime in D.C., Brian Schwalb, has suggested that “kids are kids” when it comes to juvenile crime. His casual response to a growing and deadly crisis is representative of the far-left’s approach to combating crime.
The soft-on-crime mentality that is pervasive among elected Democrats is failing our young people and destroying our cities. Years of defunding the police, declining to prosecute criminals and ignoring low-level crimes have created a culture where the rule of law is meaningless and an expectation that there are no consequences for bad behavior.
Thankfully, there are signs that commonsense is starting to drown out the soft-on-crime rallying cry of the far Left. In January, a group of California prosecutors and businesses announced widespread support for the repeal of Proposition 47, which when it passed several years ago, was billed by the likes of then-Attorney General Kamala Harris as a criminal reform measure.
In reality, Proposition 47 has contributed to rising retail crime and overdose deaths in the state. Now, 89% of California voters favor amending it to include harsher penalties for crime.
One can only assume that prosecutors in California are tired of shouldering the blame for the poor decisions of soft-on-crime politicians like Gov. Gavin Newsom or ousted San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, both of whom prefer virtue signaling to the radical left rather than tackling crime head on.
In Washington, soft-on-crime policies and politicians are facing increasing backlash from local residents. A current recall effort is underway to oust a far-left council member who pushed for changes to the criminal code that were so extreme, they were ultimately rejected by Congress and President Joe Biden.
In an effort to curb the city’s raging crime, the D.C. Council gave preliminary approval for a crime bill that would undo soft-on-crime policies that were passed just a couple of years ago. Sadly, even if the bill passes, there is nothing in it that can compel Schwalb to do his job and prosecute criminals.
Elected Democrats have long tried to convince us that soft-on-crime policies are compassionate and kind. Tragically, it is our young people who suffer most when our communities spiral from lawlessness.
It’s clear now, more than ever, that soft-on-crime policies must be replaced by truly compassionate measures that protect vulnerable communities and by politicians willing to restore civility. Until law and order is restored, our cities will continue to crumble under a system that permits bad — and violent — behavior and turns a blind eye to crime.
Jessica Anderson is the Executive Director of Heritage Action for America.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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