Letter: More to crime spike than sheriff lets on
I write in response to the October 5, 2021 article, “State Crime Report Shows Increase….” Violent crime is up and this is a national trend. But, contrary to the unsupported assertions by Cache County Sheriff Chad Jensen, there is no evidence whatsoever that the statistical increases are due to bail reform, or to a “George Soros … radical agenda” as he was quoted as saying. It is sad and unfortunate that Sheriff Johnson chose the path of fear and name-calling rather than factual assessment. The article correctly pointed out that the short-lived bail reform policy was repealed in Utah at the urging of the Sheriffs’ Association, and points to the myriad other reasons, for the increase. Experts point to the pandemic, socioeconomic conditions, and the relaxing of gun laws as some of the reasons for the increase in violent crime — especially homicides. See, e.g., https://www.science.org/content/article/three-types-laws-could-reduce-gun-deaths-more-10. So, Sheriff Jensen got what he wanted by repealing the policy, and yet he blames a policy that does not exist? The increase in violent crime in Utah cannot be blamed on bail reform. And, in states where bail reform has been implemented, it has been successful and there is no evidence that it has led to any statistical increase in violent crime by those released, pending trials. See, e.g., https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2020/11/17/pretrial-releases/.
Bail reform was specifically designed to hold arrestees based on an evaluation of the seriousness of the offense, prior record, and whether release would pose a danger to the community. Non-violent, low-level offenders should not be detained simply because they are too poor to afford bail, while those with resources are released. The cash-bail policy does not contribute to public safety. Trying to score political points by falsely blaming “George Soros” and using stereotypical tropes is a disservice to the community and divisive. It should stop now. There is too much important work to do.