Red state murder problem? Crime expert dissects Democrat narrative du jour

With many big city liberal DAs working to reduce criminal penalties, House Judiciary Democrats tried flipping the script at field hearing this week on NYC crime surge, claiming red states had higher crime rates than blue cities.

Published: April 18, 2023 11:15pm

At the House Judiciary Committee's field hearing Monday spotlighting surging crime in New York City on the watch of left-wing Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, Democrats tried to flip the script, claiming red states have higher crime rates than the Big Apple but received pushback from witnesses, the panel's majority Republicans and a criminal justice expert who exposed the statistical misdirection underlying the Democrat narrative.

Witness Jim Kessler, a think tank executive and longtime legislative and policy director to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), sought to depict violent crime as a Republican problem to which New York was not especially susceptible. Kessler, who coauthored a 2022 paper titled "The Red State Murder Problem," focused on the disparities between the crime rate in the blue city and rates in a series of red states, rather than comparing rates in New York and other blue cities directly with rates in red cities.

"Mr. Chairman, in 2020, Ohio’s murder rate was 59% higher than New York City’s murder rate," Kessler testified, addressing Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan. "Ohio's rate of rape was 280% higher. Ohio's rate of assault was 34% higher.

"Louisiana's murder rate was 251% higher than New York City's. The rate of rape was 183% higher. The assault rate 112% higher.

"The murder rate in Texas was 42% higher than New York City. South Carolina's 126% higher, Florida 32% higher, Kentucky 70% higher, North Carolina 57% higher, Indiana 72% higher, Arizona 35% higher, Alabama 119%."

Ranking member Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) encapsulated the Democrats' defensive strategy. "The evidence shows unfortunately, that the chairman could have held this hearing back in Washington or in Ohio, or in any other jurisdiction where the numbers are trending in the wrong direction," he said at the hearing. "But instead, he rushed to hold a hearing here in Manhattan in defense of Donald Trump." 

Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson echoed Nadler's claim that the hearing was simply a front for Jordan to defend Trump and laid the blame on "MAGA Republican extremists," to which one witness shot back, "Don't talk down to us witnesses please." 

Heritage Foundation criminal justice expert Charles Stimson, lead author of "The Blue City Murder Problem," a rejoinder to Kessler's "Red State Murder Problem," dissected Kessler's "highly misleading" narrative in an interview with Just the News.

"A blue city murder problem is a real thing, because obviously crime is — especially violent crime — demographically and geographically concentrated in the inner cities," said Stimson. "That's why it was really strange that they picked Kessler as a witness for the left. Because nobody talks about a state's crime rate. That's just not something that criminologists or judges or people talk about, because it's irrelevant." 

Kessler's state-level crime data conveniently obscures the reality that crime is concentrated in blue cities, Stimson explained.

"New analysis of crime data shows that high-crime counties are governed largely by Democrats, driving up the crime rates in their otherwise red states," Stimson explained in Blue City Murder Problem.

"When you remove the crime-infested, homicide-riddled cities from the state murder rate featured in the Third Way study," Stimson wrote, "you dramatically lower the murder rate for that state, upending their conclusions and exposing the piece for what it really is." 

Stimson's paper listed the 30 cities with the highest homicide rates as of June 2022, showing that 27 of them had Democratic mayors, with the exceptions being Lexington and Jacksonville, which have Republican mayors, and Las Vegas, whose mayor is an independent.

Stimson assigns much of the blame for the crime surge in blue cities on soft-on-crime DAs who were elected in local races in which entities funded by left-wing megadonor George Soros heavily outspent their opponents. 

"Within those 30 cities, there are at least 14 Soros-backed or Soros-inspired rogue prosecutors," Stimson wrote. 

"Most crime is hyperlocalized, so the fundamental flaw with [Kessler's] study and the reason it does not deserve any serious consideration is that the 'murder rate' in each state is largely a function of the large number of murders in a state's biggest city or cities," he wrote. "A super majority of those cities, even in otherwise red states, are deep blue and run by left-wing ideologues." 

There were 2,554 homicides in those 30 cities through June 2022, according to Stimson's research. In the 14 of those cities with Soros-backed prosecutors, there were 1,752 homicides — 68% of homicides in the 30 cities with the highest murder rates.

"In general," Stimson said, "the rogue prosecutor, progressive prosecutor movement operates under two fundamentally false narratives: one, that the entire criminal justice system across the country is systemically racist ... and then, secondly, that the only way to change that rot, that systemic racism, is to — and this is their words, not mine — 'fundamentally reverse engineer and dismantle' the criminal justice system as we know it — that's Rachel Barkow who was on the U.S. Sentencing Commissions, he was one of the big cheerleaders on the progressive prosecutor left." 

As conceived, "we have an adversarial criminal justice system," explained Stimson. "We pit a hard-charging ethical, zealous defense attorney, which I used to be, against a hard-charging ethical, zealous prosecutor which I used to be also, against each other. And they try their case in front of a neutral, detached judge, which I also used to be, who calls balls and strikes. And then the jury of your peers decides whether you're guilty or not guilty. But when you destroy one half of the adversarial system and you replace a prosecutor with a pro-criminal, anti-victim zealot, you dismantle the criminal justice system as you know it." 

Stimson has a book coming out in June titled "Rogue Prosecutors," which he said will outline how Soros prosecutors are destroying American communities.

"They watered down most felonies to misdemeanors," Stimson said. "They don't ask for cash bail, no matter what. They don't ask for the death penalty, and states that offer they don't allow their prosecutors to ask for life that parole even though they deserve it, and they committed horrible capital crimes."

Stimson lamented the sad irony that although Democrats tout themselves as champions of the inner-city poor, their policies are "literally killing the very people they pretend to care the most about."

Despite all the damage that has been done, Stimson said there is still reason to hope the pendulum will swing back in the direction of law and order. 

"People are starting to wake up to the fact that they deserve a public safety privilege," he declared. "Who you elect as your DA directly affects your public safety privilege. And I think people realized pretty quickly during the pandemic that these low-level, low-visibility school board elections actually did matter in the life of your child. And it made a huge difference in their education. People are now finding out, although many too late, that who you elect as your DA affects whether you're going to live or die. And whether your store is going to get robbed, or whether your friend is going to get raped. Or whether you're going to get stabbed. And the pendulum is swinging back."

The Democrats "engage in projection and diversion" to escape accountability for the surging crime plaguing the cities under their jurisdiction, he charged. "It's not working. Because look at the people who are testifying. They're Democrats. And they're saying enough is enough." 

Just The News reached out to Nadler's office for comment but did not receive a reply. 

You can follow Nick on Twitter @NGivasDC

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