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  • snitzoid

Honestly, I don't mind if Calif wants more crime.

Honestly, people who commit felonies didn't get held enough as children. Who are we to look down our nose at them? They have as much right to shoot you as the next guy. Isn't it your responsibility to stay out of their way?

Meaning move the f-ck out of California.

California Finds a New Way to Be Soft on Crime

The Legislature creates a new ‘systemic racism’ defense that risks turning many felons free.

By Heather Mac Donald, WSJ

March 4, 2024

What would happen if lawmakers reinvented the criminal-justice system to target “systemic racism” instead of crime? California is about to find out. Thanks to a 2020 law called the California Racial Justice Act, every felon serving time in the state’s prisons and jails can now retroactively challenge his conviction and sentencing on the ground of systemic bias.

To prevail, the incarcerated prisoner need not show that the police officers, prosecutors, judge or jurors in his case were motivated by racism or that his proceedings were unfair. If he can demonstrate that in the past, criminal suspects of his race were arrested, prosecuted or sentenced more often or more severely than members of other racial groups, he will be entitled to a new trial or sentence.

The Racial Justice Act repudiates a key U.S. Supreme Court precedent governing allegations of criminal-justice bias. McCleskey v. Kemp (1987) held that to defeat prosecution or sentencing under federal equal-protection grounds, a defendant must show that decision makers acted with discriminatory purpose; statistical disparities aren’t enough. The Racial Justice Act establishes a new state cause of action that simply presumes that the justice system is biased, obviating the need to show individual discriminatory intent.

California’s criminal-defense bar is lining up an onslaught of litigation. The 2020 law initially applied only to new prosecutions, and even before the onset of retroactivity at the start of 2024, defense lawyers were demanding that district attorneys provide decades’ worth of records, no matter how tangential to their case, to create statistical claims of bias.

That discovery burden is onerous, but it’s the least of the act’s problems. The statute abandons the rule of comparing like to like. If a defense expert seeks to show that defendants from one racial group were sentenced more harshly in the past than defendants of other races, he can ignore criminal history in composing the comparison groups. He can ignore the heinousness of the crimes committed by the two groups. As long as they were charged under a similar statute, they will be deemed sufficiently comparable to build a case for prosecutorial racism.

The Racial Justice Act’s drafters and supporters justify the exclusion of criminal history from statistical analysis via circular reasoning: They claim criminal history is infected by the same bias that infects everything else in the criminal-justice system. The act establishes an infinite regress of bias. If a prosecutor tries to offer what the law calls “race neutral reasons” for either past prosecutions or the one under challenge, those reasons can themselves be discounted as the product of “systemic and institutional racial bias, racial profiling, and historical patterns of racially biased policing and prosecution.” There is no clear way out of the presumption of racial guilt.

Court testimony now sounds like a critical race studies course. When a felon in San Francisco contested his arrest and prosecution for having a loaded handgun in his car, a “race expert” testified that the arresting officer’s use of the phrase “high crime area” demonstrated “bias against people of color.” The trial judge disagreed, but an appeals court reversed and allowed the felon’s claim to proceed. (Speaking of bias, that same expert, Dante King, asserted at the University of California, San Francisco, on Feb. 8 that “whites are psychopaths” whose “behavior represents an underlying, biologically transmitted proclivity.”)

On Feb. 14, a state appellate court in San Diego held that a police officer can be guilty of implicit bias against black drivers even if he doesn’t know the race of the driver he stops. Not surprisingly, defense attorneys are now tacking on Racial Justice Act claims to almost any case involving minority defendants.

The defense bar, academia and activist groups know how powerful a tool the California Legislature has handed them. Advocates are tutoring prisoners to file new claims under the law. A lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California recently told a conference at Berkeley Law School: “We have the potential for something grand: to unravel an unjust system. We are celebrating the dawn of a new era.” The act’s author, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, predicted that other states would follow California’s lead and that variants would be enacted in such domains as healthcare and family court. “The possibilities are endless, because racism is so pervasive,” Mr. Kalra told the conference.

A case from Contra Costa County last year shows the snowballing potential of the Racial Justice Act. A judge found that four black gang members who had committed murder as part of a bloody feud between two Oakland gangs had been improperly sentenced to life in prison without parole. That conclusion wasn’t based on flaws in the four defendants’ trials, but simply on an alleged historical pattern of sentencing bias toward black gang murderers. The black comparison group in the case was made up of 30 black defendants who had also committed gang murder in Contra Costa County from 2015 to 2022 and who had also received life without parole. All 30 can now sue to erase those sentences.

By mandating disparate treatment based on race, the Racial Justice Act will produce unequal justice for victims as well as offenders. Racial disparities in prosecuting and sentencing reflect disparities in criminal offending. In Los Angeles, blacks are 21 times as likely as whites to commit a violent crime, 36 times as likely to commit a robbery, and 57 times as likely to commit a homicide, according to police department data. Those data come from reports filed by victims and witnesses, who are themselves disproportionately black. Blacks in Los Angeles are 17 times as likely to be homicide victims as whites; statewide, the disparity is 13 times.

Many of the largest California counties have leftist district attorneys who cheer the new law. Some are setting up Racial Justice Act units; it is unclear which side those units are on. Alameda County’s Pamela Price has already banned almost all sentencing enhancements on grounds of disparate racial impact. Oakland, the county’s principal city, had a 21% increase in violent crime last year, a 45% increase in car theft, and a 23% increase in carjackings and burglaries. The incidence of some crimes has tripled since 2019. As California courts apply the Racial Justice Act, the rest of the state will look more and more like Oakland.

Ms. Mac Donald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of “When Race Trumps Merit.”

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