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Criminal Justice Expert Pushes Back On AG Barr's Attacks On Progressive District Attorneys

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U.S. Attorney General William Barr has been outspoken on his negative views of some progressive large-city district attorneys. Should district attorneys be "tough on crime" like AG Barr says, or are there advantages to a more progressive approach?

In an address to law enforcement at the Fraternal Order of Police, Barr described progressive district attorneys as uncompliant and lacking the aptitutde to restrict crime. 

"Once in office, they have been announcing their refusal to enforce broad swaths of the criminal law. Some are refusing to prosecute various theft cases and drug cases," Barr said. "And when they do deign to charge a criminal suspect, they are frequently seeking sentences that are pathetically lenient. So, these cities are headed back to the days of revolving door justice. The results will be predictable. More crime, more victims."   

What types of programs are these so-called "social justice" DAs championing? Do "restorative justice" policies have a demonstrable impact on recidivism rates?

What are the pros and cons of tough-on-crime policies? Is there statistical data proving that one approach is better than the other regarding crime and criminal justice?

Guest: William Kelly, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Criminology and Criminal Justice Research at the University of Texas at Austin and author of multiple books on criminal justice reform

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org  or tweet @TPRSource.



*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, September 4.


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Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.