Have you ever been in a lively conversation recently with your friends about mmm… maybe how we should provide for some early release of convicts from our prison system, you know… to address this pressing need for prison reform?
One thing I learned in police work was if perps were “in” prison they can’t be “out” perpetrating more crimes. Recidivism begins when prison doors open.
But for some strange reason, a Republican Senate document has been making its way through Capitol Hill, listing 20 violent crimes that an offender could commit and still be eligible for significant release from prison in the First Step Act. The partial list includes:
Trafficking cocaine or methamphetamines even if convicted as a kingpin, strangling a spouse or an intimate partner, felonies committed while in a criminal street gang, importing aliens for prostitution, assault with intent to commit rape or sexual abuse, violent carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury, stealing immigration documents for the purpose of keeping an immigrant in slavery and assaulting a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy having one of these hombres to be your next-door neighbor… and the sooner the better too, right?
Forget about America’s interest in health care coverage, illegal immigration, or the economy… no, let’s move the topic of conversation to the front burner of prison reform. Even the Democrats aren’t crazy enough to steer the priorities from massive infrastructure expenditures and climate change lunacy to letting our nation’s most-wanted out on early release to pillage the countryside.
I arrested a seven-time habitual D.U.I. violator and he willingly blew a 0.24 on the breathalyzer (three-times the legal limit). I asked Dewey the painter, “Why do you keep driving drunk, dude?” He told me, “As long as you can pay, you can play.” Upon his last conviction for D.U.I., with my assistance, of course, he came up missing from my beat for about six months. When he finally showed up, I asked him where’d he been. He told me the last judge refused to take his money and gave him six months in jail instead. Finally, a judge that understood the meaning of crime and punishment.
I had arrested an urban outdoorsman named, Ronnie, for spitting in my face…twice, after being drunk in public and pulling on fire alarms to vacate a full capacity hotel. After receiving treatment for his broken nose, twice – don’t know how that must have happened, I asked the judge to run his criminal history. The court clerk printed-off over 32 feet of prior arrests from child molestation and robbery to assault. Ronnie routinely exited the courtroom with “time served” and roams the street of Atlanta looking for yet another victim.
Let me explain to y’all that was explained to me as young-pup police. The district attorney’s office can only prosecute, in court, about 5 percent of their caseload because of time and expense limitations. That means it’s time to negotiate. If the DA’s office can “reduce and merge” – that’s throw out some charges and to combine into one palatable charge – then any agreed upon plea to a lesser charge is still a conviction. The goal is 95 percent conviction rate prior to all election campaigns, and DA’s are politicians, y’all.
Now consider all those convicts serving sentences in prison once had multiple charges reduced to one, and that one charge may now qualify for early release…are you ready for the homecoming?
Write your Senator and tell them to abandon prison reform legislation and get back to the serious work of the people, for what little work they actually do in the nether regions of Washington, D.C.
The Precinct Press is authored by W.J. Butcher, a retired 26-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department. Send comments, kudos, and criticism to: firstname.lastname@example.org