A recent opinion piece in the Costra Costa Times can perhaps be optimally described as tepid yet hopeful about the crime rate across the country, including in California.
Its author is David Muhammad, a man who certainly seems entitled to speak about violent crime and the many considerations that surround it. Muhammad is currently the CEO of a consulting firm that offers guidance aimed toward reforming the juvenile and general criminal justice systems. He was formerly a highly placed probation officer in New York City, following that duty with a stint as the chief probation officer of Alameda County Probation.
Muhammad's editorial on crime in America -- with specific references throughout to Oakland -- can be distilled in a single sentence, namely this: Although felony crime continues to be a sobering concern across the country, that concern is tempered by some encouraging signs and improvements across several fronts.
Muhammad draws upon some statistics relevant to Oakland to make his point. He notes, for example, that area-based homicides were down last year from 2012. He points to an appreciable drop in juvenile crime across the state, which he says "is a sign that crime and violence in the future will only further decline."
As Muhammad notes, Oakland has a program named CeaseFire that is geared toward violence reduction, and Muhammad credits this initiative with helping to reduce violent crime regionally.
CeaseFire has a very narrow focus on what Muhammad calls "the most violent groups and individuals" locally. Persons targeted by the program likely have previous criminal convictions, which are often cited by prosecutors in attempts to secure stringent outcomes, most often lengthy prison sentences.
Crime reduction is obviously a laudable enterprise, provided that substantive and procedural rules are abided by and fundamental fairness is afforded alleged suspects of crime.
An experienced criminal defense attorney plays a central role in ensuring systemic fairness and promoting the bedrock American constitutional principle that every accused person has a legal right to counsel and must be deemed innocent unless proven guilty.
Source: Contra Costa Times, "Combined efforts working to stem Oakland's crime," David Muhammad, Jan. 6, 2014