The criminal justice movement inspired by George Floyd’s death has come full circle, with police departments receiving increased funding and officers receiving signing bonuses. Calls for lenient treatment of offenders have given way to calls for aggressive enforcement of the law. While criminal justice reform advocacy did not begin with Floyd’s death, it burst into the mainstream and resulted in changes that some lawmakers may find difficult to reverse. Some cities, like Portland and Minneapolis, initially embraced the movement but have since reversed course and increased police budgets. Critics argue that the defund-the-police and anti-incarceration agenda has had catastrophic effects.
Based on a recent article on Gazette.com, three years after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the criminal justice movement he inspired has come nearly full circle. The police departments whose budgets the movement sought to slash are flush with cash again. The officers labeled as agents of systemic racism are fielding offers of hefty signing bonuses from city governments eager to welcome them.
Calls for more lenient treatment of offenders have given way to calls, from even those sympathetic to the cause, for more aggressive enforcement of the law. Criminal justice reform advocacy did not begin on May 25, 2020, when a police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck until he died in a brutal encounter captured on video. Nor has it ended with the spike in crime that’s hit major cities since then.
But progressive criminal justice reform burst into the mainstream so forcefully three years ago that lawmakers ushered in changes they may now find difficult to reverse. “It’s a well-intentioned catastrophe,” Douglas Carswell, president and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, told the Washington Examiner. “We can now begin to see what the effect of the defund-the-police, anti-incarceration agenda is having, and it’s been catastrophic.”
Some cities embraced the criminal justice reform movement more enthusiastically than others. In Portland, Oregon, for example, local officials cut $15 million from their police budget in 2020 as the city experienced one of the longest and most heated racial protests in the country. Minneapolis officials put a measure on the ballot in 2021 that would abolish the city’s police department and replace it with a reimagined Department of Public Safety. Then-Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, called on her city’s police department in 2020 to shed millions of dollars from its own budget by not filling vacant police jobs.
Three years later, virtually all of these cities had reversed course. Portland leaders have added millions back to the police bureau’s budget. Voters rejected the Minneapolis ballot measure, and the Minneapolis Police Department’s budget is larger now than before Floyd’s death. In Chicago, Lightfoot proposed a $64 million funding boost to its police budget for this fiscal year, and the Chicago Police Department in March launched new initiatives aimed at reducing crime.
While the criminal justice reform movement may have sparked some much-needed changes in the system, the consequences of these changes have been severe. The article suggests that the defund-the-police movement has led to a catastrophic state of affairs for city police departments, with many officers leaving the force and recruitment numbers down. The spike in crime in many major cities has also been attributed to the movement, as lenient treatment of offenders has given way to more aggressive enforcement of the law.
To terminate, while the criminal justice reform movement may have had good intentions, the consequences have been severe. The defund-the-police movement has led to a catastrophic state of affairs for city police departments, with many officers leaving the force and recruitment numbers down. The spike in crime in many major cities has also been attributed to the movement, as lenient treatment of offenders has given way to more aggressive enforcement of the law. It remains to be seen whether lawmakers can reverse the changes ushered in by the movement, or whether the consequences will continue to be felt for years to come.