FIRST ON FOX – District attorney Kim Gardner, who is under pressure from St. Louis, Mo., – which is currently under pressure to resign – an organization linked to far-left political donor George Soros for injecting an “aggressive” “racial equity” agenda into the office’s daily operations. , which affected prosecution decisions, a Fox News Digital investigation found.
In 2017, and shortly after she was elected, Gardner introduced the Vera Institute of Justice to help with “aggressive” ideological reform.
The Soros Open Society Foundations have donated nearly $11 million to Vera in previous years.
The collaboration between Gardner and Vera was considered a “pilot partnership” that the nonprofit said it would use as a “blueprint” for future district attorney’s offices across the U.S. as part of its mission to end “mass perpetration.” and the dissolution of criminal justice. trace the system in the US
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“[T]the criminal justice system is an instrument of racial oppression and social control of black people…. As some of the most powerful actors in the system, prosecutors have a responsibility to work to correct that impact,” said Vera. the organizational culture of their offices to address racial disparities and respect for the basic dignity of all people who ensure.”
The president of Vera Justice – Nicholas Turner – said about the rise in crime, “Maybe you feel some level of chaos or disorder or something that feels like resolution… Maybe we’ve gone too far, maybe maybe you’ve said it recently… And listen, you’re not wrong.”
Vera trained Gardner’s office to address disparities in the justice system.
“Vera developed… training[s] Do… [the] argument: mass incarceration is a problem, and prosecutors have the power to change it,” the organization said.
Vera taught Gardner’s team, “Overreliance on incarceration does not make communities safer” and “the system is mired in racial bias and disproportionately affects Black and Brown communities.”
To partner with Vera and receive her support, DA offices must commit to reducing racial disparities by at least 20%. To achieve this, partner CAs must commit to, for example, disregarding criminal history when prosecuting repeat offenders.
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Gardner and Vera’s partnership oversaw the creation of an analytics dashboard that would organize a “data-driven approach to justice” to carefully build on their goals of “dismantling[e]” and “disruption” of the criminal justice system in St. Louis.
To address “racial inequity,” Vera touted the data about the disproportionate impact of the St. Louis justice system[ed] communities of color” and submitted policy recommendations to the Department of Education leadership on how to prevent these differences, which the DA then implemented.
The structure put in place seemed to encourage prosecutors to try to curb the key metrics being watched – case rejection rates and pre-trial detentions.
“[B]Because most prosecutors have discretion over who to charge, an office’s refusal rate can be a key metric to determine whether the office is actively reducing the footprint of the criminal justice system,” Vera said.
Based on Vera’s review and recommendations, the DA began “monitoring its denial rate over time” and implemented a “more rigorous review of cases at the initial charge.”
For example, prosecutors began applying a “beyond a reasonable doubt” requirement to bring charges instead of the standard probable cause to reduce the caseload entering the system.
“[W]He will continue the fight to heal the harms the system has done to Black people throughout our city,” Gardner said. “I, a Black woman from one of the most challenged neighborhoods in St. Louis, commi[t]… to reserve imprisonment only for the most serious offences.”
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In fact, most criminal cases in 2021, including felonies, were not prosecuted.
The number of cases dropped has had a “demoralizing” effect on the police, according to Jane Dueker, who represents the St Louis Police Association.
In a statement, the organization told Fox News, “Vera has provided support for a research-backed approach to safety that includes using data to examine the impact of the office’s decisions on communities marginalized. No taxpayer funds were used.”
However, providing a “safety approach” was not nearly the whole picture. When Fox News Digital followed up with the 25,000 pending cases to be dismissed “based on Vera’s review and recommendations,” they did not respond.
Another key part of Vera’s “Move for Justice” mission is the denial of prosecution in criminal cases discovered through “pretextual stops,” meaning cases where an officer discovers criminal activity through a random stop based on his or her suspicions.
Gardner also had a policy – it was not clear whether Vera recommended it – to put certain officers on an “exclusion list” and refuse to prosecute their cases if it could not be proven without them as necessary witnesses.
The effects of the Vera-Gardner partnership can be seen in the steady increase in the non-prosecution rate, ie the number of cases dropped from the DA’s roster, as well as the reduced incarceration rate.
The non-prosecution rate jumped from 22.6% in 2018 to 35.8% two years later – and 34.4% of felony cases in St. Louis reached the chopping block.
From 2016 to 2019, the city’s jail population decreased by 26%, Vera said. “[T]that the prison population decreased significantly over that same period [the DA] that he turned down stronger cases … point that out [the DA’s] Efforts are being made to reduce the number of people detained in prison.”
During Gardner’s tenure, crime in St. Louis soared. Louis, and the city had record low homicide rates.
It was the last two years among the city’s deadliest in recent years. Last year, WalletHub ranked St. Louis as the most dangerous city in the country due to high rates of crime and other dangers.
Vera also seeks to remove the stigma from criminals, a term they do not use because it creates “punitive connotations or associations with guilt.”
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Fox News Digital reached out to Vera and Gardner for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Fox News’ Michael Tobin and Aaron Kliegman contributed to this report.