Category Archives: Crime , corrections and law enforcement

Violent Crime Now the Top Public Health Concern

Community violence and crime constitute the No. 1 “public health issue” that concerns registered voters in Virginia, finds the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) in a poll released today. Fifty-one percent of the 800 Virginians polled selected the issue.

The No. 2 concern was healthcare work shortages, which logged the top vote from 25% of respondents. (The VHHA press release did not indicate which other concerns, such as COVID-19, that people could select from.)

The poll also found that: Continue reading

Richmond Police Unveil Anti-Violence Strategy

Major Ronnie Armstead

by James A. Bacon

Shootings and homicides are surging in Richmond this year, and city police have a new strategy to bring the situation under control. They’re compiling a list of “shooters” and potential shooters. In a Monday press conference, Major Ronnie Armstead, who is leading the initiative, said the list includes “violent people that are known to be shooters, even if they didn’t have a record.”

The police have compiled the list, which now has about 100 names, by identifying individuals who have shot people in the past, by talking to members of the community, and by tracking social media, among other means, reports Virginia Public Media. “One thing about these individuals is they love their guns, they love to post [online],” Armstead said. “We look at things like that as part of an investigative tool to track these individuals and apprehend them.”

“We’re going after those trigger pullers throughout the city, and especially in the Big Six,” Armstead said last week. (The Big Six refers to the city’s six housing projects.) So far, police have arrested at least 45 public housing residents and charged them with 188 felony counts and 138 misdemeanors.

That seems like a positive, proactive approach. Take lawbreakers off the streets for legitimate crimes and misdemeanors, and focus scarce resources on those posing the highest risk of violence.  Continue reading

Debunking Another Junk Study from the Left

Source: The Prison Policy Initiative

by James A. Bacon

The Prison Policy Initiative, a group dedicated to exposing “the broader harm of mass criminalization,” has published data detailing the incarceration rate of communities across Virginia. Among Virginia’s 95 counties and 38 cities, 26 are missing at least 1% of their population to incarceration, finds “The geography of mass incarceration in Virginia.

Among the more notable findings: while the cities of Norfolk and Richmond send the largest numbers of people to prison, less populous localities — Martinsville, Petersburg, Franklin, Buchanan, Lee, Dickenson and Brunswick — are missing a larger share of their populations. Moreover, within localities incarceration rates differ widely by neighborhood.

The data is interesting and potentially useful, but the analysis that accompanies it is atrocious. If the numbers prove anything, it’s that “mass incarceration” knows no racial boundaries. The poverty-ridden Appalachian counties of Lee, Buchanan and Dickenson are overwhelmingly White. But the authors slight that obvious fact in favor of linking incarceration with “systemic racism.”

This passage is typical: “Decades of systematic oppression and divestment from these poorer communities of color — which we know are overpoliced — have left these historically redlined communities particularly vulnerable to Virginia’s modern-day reliance on mass incarceration.”

Where do I begin? Continue reading

Carjackings by Teens Skyrocket, Resulting in More Killings

Motor Vehicle Thefts in Virginia. Source: Crime in Virginia reports, 2017 through 2021.

by Hans Bader

Carjackings — especially carjackings by teens — have spiked in cities across the country over the past two years. NewsNation describes the “nationwide rise in carjackings”:

A pastor gunned down in a carjacking outside her home in Memphis. A thief runs up a driveway with a weapon drawn in New Orleans. An Atlanta mother of three, tossed out of her car and run over with it — all captured on her own Ring camera…Over the last two years, there has been a noticeable uptick in carjackings nationwide…

Chicago — a city with 40 cops on a carjacking task force —had more than 1,900 last year. That number is the most in the country and the most in the Windy City in decades…

And some of the perpetrators are shockingly young.
The pastor killed in Memphis was shot by a 15-year-old. In D.C, a 14-year-old was arrested for jacking six vehicles and trying to take a seventh.

Continue reading

Strange Things Are Afoot

by Jon Baliles

The story of the July 4th Dogwood Dell Mayoral and Police Chief press conference grows stranger with each day and subsequent stories. Noted philosophers Bill & Ted may have put it best when they said: “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.” (That’s a 7-11 for all you locals).

The July 6th press conference about preventing a July 4th mass shooting at Dogwood Dell has taken a turn for the surreal, as stories are incongruent and details are haphazard and just not adding up. Local media at all levels are trying to piece together the puzzle.

Reporters are trying to gather details and get more information while juggling “clarifications” to questions everyone has about the threat.

WRIC reported, “The Richmond Police Department has refused to share crucial evidence to verify its claim that a mass shooting,” saying it is all part of an ongoing investigation. No one knows how or why Dogwood Dell was the target because it was not mentioned anywhere in any document or filing and no one will explain. One explanation was the location was deduced because it was a major public gathering.

This week, Crime Insider Jon Burkett had an interview on WRVA and points out several salient points: Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Your Tax Dollars at Work

The Big Dig ain’t got nothing on us. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) board has approved $250 million in additional funding to pay for cost overruns on Phase II of the Silver Line rail project, which, incidentally, was supposed to begin service in 2018, and Metro officials now hope will begin this fall. Fairfax County will have to cough up $40 million more, Loudoun County $12 million more, and MWAA $10 million more, reports The Washington Post. The balance will be foisted on the motorists using the Dulles Toll Road. By way of comparison, Phase I of the Silver Line was only $220 million over budget and only six months late.

That’s a lot of laptops. Two Fairfax County school employees and a third man have been charged with stealing as many as 35,000 laptops stored in a county warehouse and scheduled to be auctioned. The losses were estimated at $2 million. The laptops were loaded onto a box truck that arrived at the warehouse without the necessary paperwork. Police charged Fadi Atiyeh, owner of Attyah Computer Recycling, as well as Franque Minor II and Mario Jones Jr. who were employees at the warehouse, reports The Washington Post. The Fairfax County HR website says the county has 12,000 workers. That’s three laptops per employee, unless the county is handling the school system’s used laptops as well. The schools have more than 17,000 employees.

Fewer police, more violent crime. The City of Roanoke has seen an explosion in violent crimes this year. The number of firearm-related woundings and killings has surged: nine homicides so far this year compared to six during the same period in 2021, and 25 aggravated assaults compared to 19. Police Chief Sam Roman says the department’s priority is interrupting “the cycle of gun violence.” In addressing City Council, he pointed to more counseling and mentoring services for at-risk youth and the Groceries Not Guns program, which exchanges unwanted firearms for supermarket gift cards. Continue reading

Charlottesville’s Dysfunctional City Government and the Left’s Four-Card Monty

by James C. Sherlock

In Canada, three-card monte is illegal. It is banned by name in Canadian law because the mark has no chance of winning. In fact, anyone who wins can be presumed to be a shill.

Four-card monte dominates public debate in America. Like its street game counterpart, only shills win.

For the left, the cards are race, gender, climate and guns.

They have made accusations of systemic and individual racism the cornerstones of their strategy. They have made misogyny more complicated than it used to be, yielding yet more potential victims and oppressors. Climate is dogma — everyone will die soon unless we destroy the economy. Or maybe die anyway. But time is of the essence. The Second Amendment is objectively evil.

Victims are everywhere. They are necessary not just to election victories, but as objects of oppression to shut down debate. Progressives are destroying America with the outcomes of their policies, so discussions of those outcomes and those who discuss them are banished from the public square.

Policy prescriptions are what count. Adverse outcomes of those policies are never raised, except, of course, by racists, misogynists, climate deniers and gun nuts. Continue reading

Crime, Asians, and “Whiteness”

Source: Crime in Virginia 2021

by James A. Bacon

In his classic treatise on race in America, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Thomas Sowell advanced the argument that African-Americans inherited a cultural propensity to violence from the rural Southern, White-dominated culture in which they were immersed. When Blacks migrated to northern cities to escape Jim Crow and pursue jobs in the booming manufacturing centers, they brought that undesirable proclivity with them. So did the hillbillies of Appalachia, says Sowell. Locals looked down upon both groups with scorn and prejudice.

Southern Whites and African-Americans, traditionally at odds with one another, are far more alike than they commonly recognize. I am reminded of this every time I watch football, an enjoyable but indisputably violent sport, on television. I see a lot of Black football players and a lot of White football players. I rarely see a single Hispanic or Asian on the field, even though those two groups now comprise a quarter of the U.S. population.

Sadly, we can see this cultural brothers-by-a-different-mother phenomenon in the Virginia crime statistics. Yes, as many observers point out, Blacks commit a disproportionate number of homicides and aggravated assaults. But criminal behavior is rampant in Virginia’s White population, too. Though drowned out in all the discussion of systemic racism and White privilege, there is a large White underclass in Virginia in which broken families, substance abuse, and criminal behavior are widespread. Whites commit a majority of violent crimes in Virginia. Continue reading

Arrests for Marijuana, Harder Drugs Plummeted in 2021

by James A. Bacon

The war on drugs in Virginia — or, more precisely, the war on marijuana — is mostly over. Last year Virginia law-enforcement authorities made only 2,466 marijuana-related arrests, according to the Crime in Virginia 2021 report published by the Virginia State Police. That’s roughly one-twelfth the number of arrests made four years previously.

The law decriminalizing marijuana possession went into effect July 1, 2020. It is still illegal to distribute marijuana or possess large quantities of the drug with the intent to distribute. The Crime in Virginia 2021 report provides the first full-year statistical snapshot of the impact of the new laws.

What some might find surprising is that the number of all other drug arrests declined 32% — from about 20,000 in 2019 to 13,600 last year. Arrests for amphetamines/methamphetamines, cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin, which peaked in 2019, all trended significantly lower since 2019. Continue reading

Seven Years for Shooting a Guy Eight Times. Sounds Like a Pretty Good Deal.

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

For all those folks on this blog who are concerned about “woke” prosecutors, leniency toward murderers, and enforcement of gun laws, here is a case to consider.

A 17-year-old Black kid goes to a house to purchase four ounces of marijuana for $400. While meeting with the 19-year-old seller, the kid pulls up his shirt to reveal a handgun tucked in his waistband. He then grabs the bag of pot and runs. At the bottom of the stairs, according to the seller, the kid turns and looks up at the seller standing at the top of the stairs. The seller then shoots the kid at least eight times with a Glock 23 handgun as he ran out the front door, hitting him in the head, neck, back, pelvis and shoulder. The kid dies at the scene.

Upon being questioned by police, the killer initially lies and claims that he was out of town on the day of the shooting. After his mother confirms that he was in town at the time, he then admits taking part in the incident, claiming self-defense. Continue reading

About Those 30 Police Shootings in Virginia Last Year…

Donovon Lynch, the shooting victim you heard of. Photo credit: Pharrell Williams/Instagram

by James A. Bacon

Police shootings generate an inordinate amount of attention in the media, but the number of incidents is remarkably rare. Of the millions of interactions in 2021 between police and citizens here in Virginia, including 187,000 arrests, there were 30 police shootings resulting in injury or death, according to the Crime in Virginia 2021 report/. Of those incidents, 19 resulted in fatalities, and 12 in injuries. (One incident resulted in two injuries.)

One shooting for every 6,300 arrests. That’s not the impression you’d get from watching Hollywood-produced television and movies… or paying attention to the media, for that matter.

Richard F. Thomas, the unarmed shooting victim you never heard of.

If you found that figure surprising, brace yourself for the real shocker — the racial identity of the shooting victims.

A Skeptic Research Center poll asked the question, “how many unarmed Black men were killed by police in 2019?” Twenty percent of respondents identifying as “very liberal” guessed the number to be about 10,000 or more. Even small percentages of self-identified conservatives gave the same response.

As the Skeptic Research Center noted, the media-fed popular impression was wildly off. Nationally, only 13 unarmed Black men were fatally shot by police in 2019. Last year, here in Virginia, that widespread perception is even more divorced from reality. Here follows a list of Virginia shooting victims in 2021 culled from The Washington Post police fatal shooting database: Continue reading

Prison Commissaries and Telephone Calls

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Jim Bacon recently posted an article about the cost of telephone calls, commissary items, etc. that prisoners in jails encounter. Having been for many years the analyst at the Department of Planning and Budget assigned to handle budget matters related to the Department of Corrections (DOC), I can add some further explanation and context to these issues. Doing so requires a more lengthy discussion than is probably appropriate for a comment; therefore, I am using a separate article to do so.

My experience was with DOC and not jails. Furthermore, each jail can have its own policies which may differ some from those of other jails. However, many of the general principles apply to both levels. Continue reading

Waaah. Rappahannock Jail Inmates Don’t Get Free Wi-Fi.

Shelly Tibbs. Photo credit: the Free Lance-Star

by James A. Bacon

I’m guessing that we’re supposed to feel sorry for Shelley Tibbs, whose sorrowful tale is told in a Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star article about “prison profiteering.”

Ms. Tibbs’s son was booked into Rappahannock Regional Jail one recent Friday — on what charges, we are not told. All we know is that he had served a previous sentence for seven months and has suffered from substance-abuse issues. Whatever the particulars, the Free Lance-Star informs us that within days of her son’s incarceration Ms. Tibbs had deposited almost $100 into his JailATM account so he could order from the canteen, listen to music, stream movies, write emails, and call her. In his previous incarceration, she had spent more than $400 monthly on his extras, going into debt to do so.

It seems that jails across the country charge for extras that make life in jail and prison more pleasant. According to the FLS, the Rappahannock facility generated almost $2.8 million from commissions, more than any other jail in the state. And the ACLU, which has largely abandoned protecting the individual liberties of Americans in favor of championing “social justice” causes, finds “prison profiteering” to be reprehensible. Not just reprehensible but racist. Continue reading

Richmond Cops Say a Mass Shooting Was Foiled By a Concerned Citizen

by Kerry Dougherty

In the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, it’s clear that the massacre might have been avoided if the suspect’s parents had done their part to keep weapons out of the hands of their clearly deranged son.

The suspect, Robert Crimo III, has reportedly confessed to the atrocities that left seven dead and dozens injured at an Independence Day parade. One toddler was orphaned by the shootings..

In an interview in Thursday’s New York Post Crimo’s father said he felt no guilt even though he sponsored his son to buy a firearm three months after he was declared a “clear and present danger” by local police for threats to kill his entire family.

“They make me like I groomed him to do all this,” Crimo’s father said of critics. “I’ve been here my whole life, and I’m gonna stay here, hold my head up high, because I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Oh, please.

Contrast that with what happened in Richmond where police say a concerned citizen overheard a conversation about a planned mass shooting for the 4th of July at the Dogwood Dell celebration and notified the police. Continue reading

Did Police Manpower Shortages Contribute to Virginia’s Crime Wave?

Data Source: 2020 and 2021 Crime in Virginia reports.

by James A. Bacon

Jim Sherlock, Dick Hall-Sizemore and I have been having an excellent debate in Bacon’s Rebellion over what caused the crescendo of homicides and violent crime in Virginia over the past two years. In response to previous posts by Jim and me critical of Northern Virginia’s woke, Soros-funded prosecutors, Dick argued yesterday that Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington Counties haven’t seen much of a spike in crime. We can rest easy, he concludes. Their social-justice- driven criteria for prosecuting crimes have not turned NoVa into a crime-ridden hell hole.

Jim responded that the three NoVa counties are among the three most affluent localities in the country, and that a prosecutorial social-justice agenda would not have the same effect as it would in jurisdictions with large, low-income populations. Another key difference between the affluent NoVa counties and other localities, he suggested, is the staffing level of law enforcement.

I was in the process of tallying the law-enforcement staffing numbers when I read Jim’s comment this morning. As it turns out, law-enforcement staffing likely is a critical variable. The headcount of police and sheriffs departments is down overall across the state in 2021 compared to 2020, and markedly so in the four localities I highlighted in a previous post — Richmond, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Hampton — that accounted for 70% of the increase in murders in Virginia last year. By contrast, staffing increased in Fairfax County last year, and declined only modestly in Loudoun and Arlington. Continue reading