"We can start with the First Step Act, Trump’s uncharacteristically hopeful and optimistic criminal justice reform bill (which, naturally, he later regretted). DeSantis recently called the law a 'jailbreak bill' that 'allowed dangerous people out of prison who have now re-offended, and really, really hurt a number of people,'" wrote Balko. "There's no evidence for any of this. If a significant number of prisoners released under the FSA have gone on to commit new violent or sex crimes, we'd know their names. Their photos would be on the cover of the New York Post, their names emblazoned in Fox News chyrons."
The only example DeSantis provided of this is Glynn Neal, who stabbed a staffer for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) shortly after being released from prison — but in fact, the First Step Act "reduced his sentence by a matter of days" and he was getting out anyway. On the contrary, people released under the FSA are reoffending at a third the rate of the general prison population — meaning the law is, if anything, actually reducing crime.
"As governor, DeSantis has already demonstrated his commitment to corrupting law enforcement. Earlier this year he forcibly removed a state’s attorney — Andrew Warren — from office. Warren was among the new breed of progressive prosecutors who 'take it upon themselves to determine which laws they like and will enforce and which laws they don’t like and won’t enforce,' DeSantis said, 'and the results of this in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have been catastrophic,'" wrote Balko. But actually, "The murder rate in San Francisco is significantly lower than that of the entire state of Florida — an incredible statistic, given that crime is usually more concentrated in cities. The murder rate in Los Angeles is significantly lower than major Florida cities like Miami and Tallahassee. And Jacksonville has consistently had the highest murder rate in the state, despite a series of Republican mayors and lead prosecutors."
This isn't the first time Republicans have failed to check statistics in their own states before lying about crime in Democratic-controlled cities — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) made crime in New York City a huge focus of his attacks on Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg, despite his own district containing the so-called "Danger City" of Mansfield, where crime is far worse.
Moreover, noted Balko, things are unlikely to improve under DeSantis' leadership, as he has set up a policy of importing police officers from areas with "anti-cop" policies — and many of the police who have taken up the offer have criminal charges themselves.
"The more voters get to know [DeSantis], the less they seem to like him," concluded Balko. "If he manages to find some charisma, he could be a considerable force — and an enormously destructive one. But there's little reason to think he'll make the country any safer."