In New York City, officials have set 1,400 criminals free before the end of their sentences in order to spare them exposure to the coronavirus spreading among inmates. Many of them have ended up back behind bars.
At least 50 of the released convicts committed crimes once again and have been returned to jail, the New York Post reported Sunday.
This wasn’t a big surprise to most people, but New York Mayor Bill de Blasio apparently didn’t see it coming.
“I think it’s unconscionable just on a human level that folks were shown mercy and this is what some of them have done,” the Democrat said when asked about it during a news briefing Monday.
De Blasio’s comments reflect the left’s soft-on-crime approach; it is a mindset that all too often places the needs of criminals ahead of justice for victims and public safety.
The mayor appeared to be astonished, almost hurt, that his benevolent deed led to more crime. To everyone else, it was common sense and easy to predict.
The crimes are indeed the responsibility first and foremost of those who commit them, but officials who free the criminals are also to blame. This spate of illegal acts would not have occurred had the convicts remained where they belong: behind bars.
The mayor maintains that only a small fraction of those released have returned to a life of crime and that the others are being closely monitored.
“We’re going to keep, you know, just buckling down on it, making sure there’s close monitoring and supervision,” de Blasio said.
He appears to be convinced that this grand gesture, this great humanitarian act, will penetrate the hearts of the newly freed convicts and lead them to a law-abiding existence. But this raises the question: If they had such refined sentiments, would they be in jail in the first place?
Consider the behavior of one inmate released from Rikers, the city’s main jail complex, after he had allegedly set his girlfriend’s door on fire and choked her mother, the Post reported. Once back on the streets, he allegedly repaid the public kindness by returning to the apartment and threatening to kill the whole family. He was then rearrested.
Did this family deserve to be terrorized all over again? What if he had done more than just blasted menacing words?
This raises the question of how officials decide which inmates to release.
According to the Post, the Legal Aid Society, a social justice law firm, and the Bronx Defenders, a nonprofit organization devoted to defending those with low incomes, have been requesting the release of inmates based on their ages and medical conditions. But how do these factors determine how the released convict will behave once out of jail?
It is indeed always remarkable when jail leads to a reformation of the criminal, when the individual pays his debt to society and then finds a way to move forward into a productive life. But this requires multiple signs of remorse, repentance and evidence of a genuine transformation.
In addition, it requires hard work by officials tasked with overseeing the inmate to make sure he is ready for a life out of jail.
Without meeting all of the necessary preconditions, the risks to public safety are too high.
Even when all the precautions are taken and prisoners have completed their sentences, the recidivism rate is alarming. A Department of Justice report released in May 2018 found that 68 percent of released convicts were rearrested within three years, and 83 percent within nine years
Many Democratic leaders across the nation, including de Blasio, have made headlines for their repeated and vicious criticism of President Donald’s Trump handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of finding fault in others, they should keep their eye on their own grave errors — in this case, setting loose criminals who bring renewed terror to the innocent and only add to the problems citizens are facing in this era of high stress and national emergency.
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