Commentary

 By C. Douglas Golden  November 8, 2021 at 7:58am

In San Francisco, local media seems to be catching up to a cause-and-effect mechanism I thought we’d all grasped by now.

If there is minimal or no punishment for crime, more of it tends to be committed. Furthermore, if recidivist criminals aren’t punished differently for their recidivism — in particular, through incarceration — the problem increases dramatically.

On Friday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a piece titled, “Two men with long criminal histories got caught for stealing bikes. What should S.F. do about them?”

Tyler Howerton and Nicholas Tiller were apprehended after allegedly stealing two expensive bicycles from a shared basement at roughly 3:30 a.m. “on a recent Thursday.” The burglary took place in the city’s historic Castro district; the jurisdiction that includes it has seen a 13 percent increase in burglaries this year alone.

Bicycle thefts have been one of the factors fueling the burglary numbers, particularly with the pandemic sparking a craze in high-end cycles and e-bikes.

The paper described burglars as “often methodical, repeat offenders with tools and expertise.” In terms of the alleged perpetrators here, one city supervisor said, “So far we’ve been unable to release [Tiller and Howerton] without them committing more crimes.”

Those are just the facts, ma’am (or sir, or xir). When the Chronicle tweeted reporter Rachel Swan’s story, however, here was the question they asked in social media copy:

“Residents and city leaders are searching for answers: should they tolerate burglaries as a part of city living, and focus on barricading homes?”

Residents and city leaders are searching for answers: should they tolerate burglaries as a part of city living, and focus on barricading homes?

Should repeat offenders get rehabilitation services, or be incarcerated so they can’t commit more crimes? https://t.co/F0kaALqjU1 pic.twitter.com/QMqOjXJFMl

— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) November 5, 2021

Does the San Francisco Chronicle have any credibility?

And, believe it or not, that inanity is taken from Swan’s reporting.

After noting that the San Francisco Police Department has deployed more officers to the area due to the burglary spike, Swan then wrote, “At the same time, residents and city leaders are searching for answers: Should they tolerate a high level of burglaries as a downside of city living, and focus on barricading their homes? Should people who are repeatedly accused of stealing be targeted with rehabilitation services, or incarcerated so they can’t commit more crimes?”

In this case, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s office has opted for the latter strategy. Tiller and Howerton face felony counts of first-degree residential burglary in a case that could put them behind bars for six years.

That it took this long, however, also should be indicative of why San Francisco has this problem in the first place.

“According to documents reviewed by The Chronicle, both men had extensive criminal histories: Howerton had been arrested seven times on suspicion of burglary since 2019; Tiller had been arrested 13 times in burglary cases since 2013,” the outlet’s report read. “Both were on probation at the time they were apprehended.”

So, put these guys behind bars or barricade yourself in your home if you want to live in the city? That’s not a rhetorical question to the Chronicle, which left plenty of social media users somewhere between amused and infuriated.

Tell me your city needs new leaders without saying it. https://t.co/C0Mr85aGu0

— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) November 6, 2021

Is this a serious article or a joke? https://t.co/Jo1YC8aQQJ

— Madison Gesiotto Gilbert (@madisongesiotto) November 7, 2021

The SF elite to the population “Barricade yourselves peasants!” https://t.co/DLWL55tyua

— CHINGOBLING (@ChingoBling) November 7, 2021

Can you imagine living in a city where barricading yourself in your home is considered a more viable option than (checks notes)… arresting burglars??l https://t.co/VujeHqSuEf

[email protected] (@Jason) November 6, 2021

I can’t imagine a better strategy to get people to vote Republican if I tried. https://t.co/1qJ8TzV7lS

— Helaine Olen (@helaineolen) November 6, 2021

Unfortunately, the fact that the paper of record in San Francisco is asking this question is why any Republican with choices and sense has left the city of San Francisco (and the entire state, if it can at all be helped).

At least some on the left are coming to their senses, however. The Chronicle quotes Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, a criminal justice reform supporter “whose policy views evolved as he grappled with property crime in his district — a persistent problem that makes residents feel vulnerable in their own homes.”

“It raises tricky questions about incarceration,” Mandelman said. “Because so far we’ve been unable to release [Tiller and Howerton] without them committing more crimes. And the question for reformers is, ‘What do we do with someone like that?’”

You probably don’t want to know the answer to that question.

Rachel Marshall, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, said that, in this particular case, they’d be willing to consider alternative interventions such as drug treatment “if there is a specific, viable plan that can address what is driving their behavior.”

The problem is that the “specific, viable plan that can address what is driving their behavior” is exactly what the DA’s office is pursuing at the moment: prison time.

The mere fact they’re searching for something else is proof that not even the tiniest lesson will be learned by officials in what could be America’s wokest city.

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).

Birthplace

Morristown, New Jersey

Education

Catholic University of America

Languages Spoken

English, Spanish

Topics of Expertise

American Politics, World Politics, Culture

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