EDITORIAL: Blame ‘justice reform’ for our crime wave
The hard data is in; it’s alarming and grim. The price Colorado has paid for going soft on crime is startling, as a Gazette banner headline on Thursday made clear. It’s all in a landmark study released this week by Colorado’s Common Sense Institute, which reveals:
- Violent crime in our state skyrocketed 35% from 2011 to last year — while rising only 3% nationwide. The state’s crime rate for 2021 is on track to be the highest since 1994.
- Colorado’s 2020 murder rate was 106% higher than in 2011.
- Assault was up 40% in that same time. Rape was 9% higher.
The data includes some dubious distinctions:
- Colorado is No. 1 in auto theft — the highest rate in the nation as of 2020.
- The auto theft rate soared 135% in the past decade.
- Colorado’s overall property crime rate also rose more than in any other state the past decade.
Alongside its human toll, Colorado’s crime wave — really, a tsunami — took a tremendous toll in dollars and cents. The Common Sense Institute’s research pegs it at $27 billion in both tangible and intangible costs for 2020. It averages to $4,762 a year per Coloradan — or 77% of the state’s annual budget.
To say the least, it is a wakeup call — and not just to lock your cars, secure your homes and watch your backs. It also is a warning to our state’s elected policy makers at all levels of government to mend their ways.
First and foremost, it’s time for ruling Democrats at the legislature to toss the so-called “justice reform” agenda into the dumpster of discredited ideas. They must quit requiring our justice system to coddle criminals. As the research points out:
- The number of convicts behind bars at Colorado prisons dropped an astounding 23% from 2008 to this year — while the total number of crimes per year exploded by 47%.
- In Denver, the use of recognizance bonds letting criminal suspects out of jail at no cost jumped 61% over the last two years and rose even for more serious crimes.
- Meanwhile, Colorado’s rate of repeat offenders ranks among the top five in the nation.
Politicians’ attempts to lower or end cash bail; to release suspects despite mile-long rap sheets; to reclassify crimes and criminals in the name of “equity”; to remove cops from K-12 school campuses — must halt immediately. Where now implemented, they should be repealed.
Such “reforms” already were being nudged to the back burner by a few more astute Democrats who have realized the jig is up. They know a public under siege by a festering criminal culture is running out of patience with ever-more outlandish attempts to recast criminals as victims — and to cast crime’s real victims by the wayside.
Everyone seems to know someone these days whose car has been stolen; whose home has been burglarized; who was too close for comfort to the latest incident of teen violence.
Now, the Common Sense Institute’s study — led by respected former DAs George Brauchler of Arapahoe County and Mitch Morrissey of Denver — is a game changer. Its numbers confirm our fears.
Justice reform? For a change, how about just plain old justice — for Colorado’s many crime victims?