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OFF-KILTER with Rebecca Vallas

Oct 29, 2021

In recent months, a wave of champions of the “tough on crime” approach to criminal justice have been trumpeting a spike in U.S. homicides in 2020 as fodder for rolling back critical reforms to America’s broken criminal legal system, and for scaremongering about the so-called defund the police movement. Meanwhile, criminal justice experts caution that efforts to blame the uptick in homicides on criminal justice reform aren’t just unfounded but are in fact directly contradicted by the very crime data the tough-on-crimers are trying to spin. As Fordham Law professor John Pfaff has put it: the rise in homicides last year actually “by and large took place on the status quo’s watch.” 

So, for a look at what we know and what we don’t know about the 2020 crime data—and the shifting politics around criminal justice reform—Rebecca sat down with Ames Grawert, senior counsel at the Brennan Center and Josh Hoe, the policy analyst at Safe and Just Michigan and the host of the Decarceration Nation podcast. 

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