Tom Cotton sparks backlash for saying America has “major under-incarceration problem” amid massive surge in crime

Tom Cotton sparks backlash for saying America has “major under-incarceration problem” amid massive surge in crime
Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP, Pool
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Sen. Tom Cotton has sparked a massive backlash after sharing a CNN article on the rise of “significant crime” alongside the remark that “We have a major under-incarceration problem in America. And it’s only getting worse.”

The CNN article, titled “The US saw significant crime rise across major cities in 2020. And it’s not letting up,” details the surge in crime rates throughout the United States last year. 

“Major American cities saw a 33% increase in homicides last year as a pandemic swept across the country, millions of people joined protests against racial injustice and police brutality, and the economy collapsed under the weight of the pandemic — a crime surge that has continued into the first quarter of this year,” the report states.

“Sixty-three of the 66 largest police jurisdictions saw increases in at least one category of violent crimes in 2020, which include homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, according to a report produced by the Major Cities Chiefs Association. Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Raleigh, North Carolina, did not report increases in any of the violent crime categories,” it adds.

“Experts point to a “perfect storm” of factors — economic collapse, social anxiety because of a pandemic, de-policing in major cities after protests that called for abolition of police departments, shifts in police resources from neighborhoods to downtown areas because of those protests, and the release of criminal defendants pretrial or before sentences were completed to reduce risk of Covid-19 spread in jails — all may have contributed to the spike in homicides,” according to CNN.

A later section titled “De-policing in response to demonstrations” clarifies that efforts to dismantle the police, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, contributed to the failures of the criminal justice system. 

“Jails, prisons, and correctional facilities became hotspots for COVID-19 outbreaks among inmates and staff members, prompting some officials to aggressively reduce populations and suspend intake of new detainees,” CNN reports.

Cotton’s remarks were instantly rebutted by critics who took issue with his efforts to highlight the failures of the criminal justice system. 

“Tell Tom Cotton the only under-incarceration problem we have is that the leaders and enablers of the seditious mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6th have not yet been held accountable. They will be. Many of his colleagues should be concerned,” said progressive Chris Hahn. 

Some Democrats fired back with calls for Republicans to be put in prison instead of criminals. 

Others accused Cotton of being a “blood-thirsty fascist.”

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