Since 2020, the rates of homicide and other violent crimes in the United States have increased to levels not seen in many years. The causes of the increase are unclear; some argue that COVID-19 exacerbated long-standing societal problems and hampered police, while others say the advent of progressive prosecutors in several cities has allowed crime to rise. Whatever the causes, the increase in crime has led many politicians once again to take a tough-on-crime approach. This, in turn, has led some observers to worry that policies adopted in recent years to reduce prison populations and help formerly incarcerated people avoid reoffending could be in jeopardy. Still, these policies have won support from politicians in both parties. And although slogans such as “defund the police” have ...

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