Friday, March 2, 2018

Parkland and the culture of leniency

The following article appeared in Powerline on February 28th

By Paul Mirengoff

Daniel Horowitz convincingly ties the Parkland shooting to the culture of leniency towards criminals, also known as the jailbreak agenda. He writes:

The jailbreak agenda is definitely on display in the Broward County law enforcement agencies. It turns out that Broward County has been promoting a program, funded in part by the federal government, to incentivize local officials to do everything they can to keep juveniles out of jail. . . .

As Catharine Evans writes at the American Thinker, Broward County “had the highest number of school-related arrests statewide at 1,062” before Obama began his Common Core-style grant programs for local jailbreak agendas. Once millions of dollars were doled out for juvenile feel-good programs to avoid arrest, such as the PROMISE program, the number of arrests plummeted by 63 percent from 2011-2012 to the 2015-2016 school year.

The Obama administration touted this dubious achievement by Broward County. In fact, the school district’s superintendent was invited to the White House in 2015 for an event, “Rethink Discipline,” that would highlight the success of Broward and other localities’ success in “transforming policies and school climate.”

However, as Broward County Sheriff Deputies Association President Jeff Bell told Laura Ingraham, PROMISE “took all discretion away from law enforcement to effect an arrest if we choose to.”

If law enforcement had retained discretion, there’s a good chance Cruz would have been arrested and/or committed. After all, the sheriff’s department received dozens of credible complaints against him. Some described his violent acts and tendencies, others his threats to shoot up the school.

Moreover, as Kent Scheidegger points out, Cruz was expelled for bringing weapons to school. And when he got into a fight in September of 2016, he was referred to social workers rather than to the police. Similarly, when he allegedly assaulted a student in January 2017, it triggered a school-based threat assessment, but no police involvement. The Washington Post notes that Cruz “was well-known to school and mental health authorities and was entrenched in the process for getting students help rather than referring them to law enforcement.”

When I was growing up, there was no chance that a juvenile with a file like Cruz’s would be outside of the justice system. Law enforcement would have been looking for excuses to take him off the street, not making excuses for failing to do so.

But that was before arresting delinquent teenagers came to be considered taboo by the left and by naive conservatives. And before not arresting them became cause for being feted at the White House.

Sheriff Scott Israel provides a perfect example of the new mentality — the culture of leniency. Speaking at a mosque, he remarked:

I have said over and over again, we have to measure the success of the Broward Sherriff’s office by the kids we keep out of jail, not by the kids we put in jail. We have to give our children second chances and third chances.
Sheriff Israel

Unfortunately, Nikolas Cruz’s victims never even had a first chance.

The idea of measuring the success of a law enforcement agency by the number of people not in jail is sheer lunacy. The only valid measurements of success are (1) prevention of crime and (2) apprehension and successful prosecution of criminals. If, instead, we were to measure success by the number of people not in jail, then the most successful sheriffs would be the ones who didn’t arrest anyone, or at least any youths. And the logical way to build on that “success” would be to release those already in custody.

Even the jailbreak lobby isn’t advocating this, but it is pushing things in that direction.

The push should be in the opposite direction. To that end, Horowitz urges the Trump administration to cut off all federal funding for jailbreak grant programs. He also calls on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to rescind all Obama-era agreements and guidance documents pressuring local school districts to change their methods of discipline.

It’s not enough to condemn Scott Israel as incompetent. His incompetence is only part of the story. The rest of the story is the culture of leniency, enshrined in federal policy, that encouraged Israel’s department to keep Nikolas Cruz free to kill.

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