As the Justice Department and everybody else barrel forward with plans to get as many violent offenders back on the streets as quickly as possible (to save money, you know, and aid those poor benighted, imprisoned souls), here’s a reminder of the inevitable consequences of anti-incarceration-early-re-entry-alternative-sentencing-community-control chic, from the Chicago Sun-Times, via Second-City Cop:
She lost 20 teeth. She suffered a brain injury and seizures. And she struggled to pay her medical bills because she didn’t have insurance. Jen Hall was the victim of a brutal, disfiguring beating outside a Jewel store in the South Loop in August 2008.
Her attacker, Derrick King, was later sentenced to three years in prison for the crime. King, 48, went into state Department of Corrections custody in early October, but he was paroled only two weeks later under a policy change by Gov. Quinn’s administration. . .
On Aug. 25, 2008, King and Joyce Burgess attacked Hall and her boyfriend, police said. King asked the couple for cigarettes, but when they said they didn’t have any, Burgess knocked down Hall, who was celebrating her 36th birthday. King, who police say was homeless, kicked Hall in the head and face, knocking out her teeth. King also struggled with Hall’s boyfriend and reached into his pockets to try to rob him, police said. King was convicted and sent to prison on Oct. 6. He was paroled under the MGT-Push program on Oct. 20, records show.
And then, of course, he not only immediately set out to commit another crime, but he terrorized his next victim by bragging to her that he was the man who had attacked Hall:
Then, on Oct. 21, King was nabbed by Chicago Police in a similar crime. He threatened a 49-year-old woman after asking her for a cigarette in the 500 block of West Roosevelt, not far from where he beat Hall. When the woman declined, King said: “Remember the couple who got beat up real bad for not giving a cigarette? That was me!” according to a Chicago Police arrest report. King then charged toward her, police said. The woman flagged down a patrol car and the officers arrested King. Police charged King with simple assault, a misdemeanor.
Disturbed yet? Here’s where it gets even more disturbing. Even after King tried to beat two people to death, then attacked a third victim, the Department of Corrections was not particularly motivated to pull him in. He was almost on his way out the door again, and it sounds as if only police vigilance actually resulted in Corrections agreeing to issue a warrant:
The Department of Corrections initially declined to issue a warrant to send King back to prison on a parole violation, but eventually a parole supervisor signed off on a warrant, according to the police report.
So if this were not a case of some notoriety, it is likely that no judge or parole official or prosecutor would have bothered to enforce the law regarding King’s parole. I can’t count the times I’ve looked up an offender’s record, and he has two, or five, or ten additional recorded offenses during the time that he is on parole — that is, during the time that he is supposed to be returned to prison for any additional offense.
And it’s not as if people like this get caught every time they throttle someone. How many of his fellow homeless has King beaten or threatened? How many people has he terrorized, people who escaped and decided, reasonably, that there was simply no point in trying to get the authorities to act on a criminal complaint? Derrick King nearly killed a woman and strolled out of jail fourteen days later.
Fourteen days for what should have been attempted murder.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is now calling his secret early release of violent offenders “a mistake.” Bunk. A mistake is when you do something in error: this is both a guiding philosophy and a policy. The offenders released in two weeks are merely one step further down a deliberative path that has similar offenders released after two months or six months, at most.
Or simply not prosecuted in the first place.
Derrick King’s early release is something that happens with most offenders in every major city in the country, with the exception of those that have reformed the behavior of their courts by adopting “broken windows” policies, most notably, New York City. A Derrick King probably wouldn’t slip through the cracks in New York City: he slipped through in Chicago. It’s simple, really.
And yet, in much of the mainstream media, and in the universities, and in courtrooms, and in Eric Holder’s Justice Department, the mantra of “emptying the prisons,” and “prisoner re-entry” is relentless. The Justice Department is funding (that is, we are funding) scores of programs designed to keep the maximum number of offenders out of prison and in the communities where they victimize others. These programs go by various names and make various unattainable promises, but they operate on one unifying principle: anything but incarceration as the default response to crime.