“I don’t want to get killed in front of my wife and kids.”
That was what Nasrat Ahmad Yar reportedly said to a friend about why he wanted to leave his home country of Afghanistan.
“Nasrat Ahmad Yar was the sole provider for his wife and four children. … He served as an interpreter alongside U.S. Army Special Forces in Afghanistan. Ahmad Yar escaped with his family in 2021 after the fall of the Afghan government to the Taliban.”https://t.co/xNaebXPo8n https://t.co/SpLSatCCwC— Jerry Dunleavy 🇺🇸 (@JerryDunleavy) July 6, 2023
On July 3, Yar was fatally shot in Washington, D.C., while finishing a late-night shift working for the ride-sharing company Lyft. The father of four who worked with the U.S. military as an interpreter for a decade and survived war-torn Afghanistan went through all that only to be killed in our nation’s capital.
This tragedy needs to be a wake-up call about the complete failure of leadership and justice in the District of Columbia. When D.C. lawmakers were brought before a House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing in March, they mostly insisted that the crime crisis was overblown.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said at the hearing that “there is not a crime crisis in Washington, D.C.”
Is that so?
According to the latest city statistics highlighted by Washington’s WJLA-TV Channel 7 news, compared with this time last year, “homicides are up 12%. Sex abuse incidents are up 53%. Vehicle thefts were up 110% in May.” The overall crime rate is up by nearly 30%.
The numbers back up the anecdotal evidence that D.C.’s crime surge is not only a crisis, but it’s making the seat of our federal government an embarrassment to the country.
This is about a failure of leadership and a failure to understand the meaning of justice.
A story from April highlighted the District’s warped priorities. Amid the city’s massive carjacking surge, it’s been more relentless in making sure the victims of the car thefts pay for speeding tickets accrued by the criminal in the stolen vehicle than in bringing the thieves to justice.
When former D.C. police Chief Robert Contee left the position in April, he mentioned how the police are only one component of keeping crime down. Active support from the justice system is necessary to keep criminals off the streets.
“When police officers enforce the law, that’s only one part of that criminal justice ecosystem,” Contee said, according to CBS News. “It’s only one part of it, because that case, then again, has to be prosecuted. Like, people would assume that, yeah, ‘bad guy robbed somebody, bad guy goes to jail, bad guy is not back out in the community.’ That’s not necessarily the case.”
Since Washington is a federal district and not a state, local prosecutions are conducted by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Matthew Graves, who was appointed by President Joe Biden.
How is that working out? Not great.
The District’s U.S. Attorney’s Office failed to prosecute 67% of those arrested in 2022. That’s truly an astounding number. From The Washington Post:
Even compared to a local prosecutor’s office, a 67 percent declination rate is high. For example, in Wayne County, Mich., which includes Detroit, the prosecutor’s office reported declining 33 percent of its cases last year. Prosecutors in Philadelphia declined 4 percent and prosecutors in Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, declined 14 percent, according to data from those offices.
The Substack D.C. Crime Facts dug even deeper into the numbers. It found that while arrests have gone down since 2017, prosecutors have refused to press charges in even more cases. Much of this, according to D.C. Crime Facts, falls on federal prosecutors:
It was not that long ago that the vast majority of felony and misdemeanor arrests led to some kind of charge. Now a large majority of misdemeanors and even a slight majority of felony arrests simply result in no charge. This is a massive policy change, and it’s one that was made completely outside of the authority of Mayor [Muriel] Bowser, Chief Contee or the D.C. Council.
Graves said in an interview with The Washington Post that most of the crimes his office didn’t prosecute involved gun possession, drug possession, and burglary charges. He further said, according to the Post, that “the city’s crime lab remained unaccredited and police body-camera footage was subjecting arrests to more scrutiny.”
The chief of police at the time called those excuses “B.S.”
It appears that at least some of the crime spike can be laid at the feet of the U.S. attorney’s office, but don’t let the District off the hook there.
The D.C. Council actually tried to reduce the penalty for carjacking while Washington’s carjacking problem was exploding. The criminal code revision was so embarrassing that Congress did something it hadn’t done in three decades: A bipartisan majority nullified the revised criminal code, with Biden’s concurrence.
Maybe D.C.’s local leaders are feeling the heat a little bit now. Late Tuesday afternoon, the D.C. Council approved an emergency crime bill.
“We are in a state of emergency right now. … And like in any emergency, we have to act like it, and we have to act urgently as a government to address the problem that we’re seeing,” D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto said, according to ABC News.
At least they are finally acknowledging the absurdly obvious.
Through their policies, rhetoric, and actions, leaders in our nation’s capital are creating victims and punishing the good instead of the bad.
In one sense, left-wing sloganeers have a point: When there is no justice, there is no peace. The problem is that they have an entirely warped view of justice, and when the Left controls all levers of power, as they do in D.C., criminals thrive and victims multiply.
Jarrett Stepman is a columnist for The Daily Signal. He is also the author of the book “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past.” Original here. Reproduced with permission.