All the news is bad this Monday. On Saturday, the AP reported:
Police Officer Gun Deaths Up
The number of officers killed in the line of duty by gunfire increased 24 percent from 2008, according to preliminary statistics compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a national nonprofit organization that tracks officer-related deaths.
As of Saturday, 47 police officers have died nationwide this year after being shot while on duty, up from 38 for the same time in 2008, which was the lowest number of gunfire deaths since 1956, according to the data.
Make that 48 dead, or an increase of 26% over last year, as of Sunday, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. Captain Dennis Darrell Cagle of the Henderson, Tenn. Police Department died Sunday, a few days after being shot while responding to an armed robbery in a grocery store.
R.I.P. Captain Dennis Darrell Cagle
Meanwhile, in seemingly “unrelated” news, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has been secretly and not-so-secretly releasing inmates even earlier than they were being released before, which was already early compared to the sentences they received.
If this trend continues, we are going to be freeing people from prison even before they commit crimes.
Oh, wait, we do that already. Governor Quinn’s going to have to invent double time travel next:
Records obtained and analyzed by the AP show that since September more than 850 inmates have been released weeks earlier than they ordinarily would be. The Corrections Department is saving money by abandoning a policy that requires inmates to serve at least 61 days and awarding them discretionary good-conduct credit immediately upon entering prison. That means some prisoners have enough good-conduct days to qualify for release almost immediately — before they’ve had a chance to demonstrate any conduct at all, good or bad. The inmates are kept at the department’s prison processing centers and released after as few as 11 days. . . The unpublicized practice is called “MGT Push,” for “meritorious good time,” according to a memo obtained by the AP.
So, what entitles a felon to Meritorious Good Time? Just being the ineffable offenders that they are, apparently:
Jorge Bogas spent just 18 days behind bars for aggravated driving under the influence after he hit two cars, hospitalizing one motorist for weeks, while driving the wrong direction on Interstate 57. Bogas sat five days in Cook County Jail, was transferred to the processing center at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet and released 13 days later.
James Walker-Bey, sentenced to a year for violating probation for carrying a .25 caliber pistol in Alsip, was confined for just over two weeks — three days in Cook County and 14 at Stateville prison.
And Antoine Garrett, previously convicted of armed robbery and illegal firearms possession by a felon, got a one-year sentence after Chicago police saw him drop a bag of cocaine on the street as they approached, but spent just 21 days locked up.
One year for dropping a bag of cocaine? Doesn’t that seem a bit extreme? Not if you consider that Garrett was still supposed to be serving time for a 1992 armed robbery when he was out committing another felony gun crime in 2001. In the absurdist argot that pretends criminals are “paying their debt to society” by serving time, Antoine Garrett still owes us for the crime before last, let alone the last one.
Garrett’s also got one of those ridiculous little teardrops tattooed on his face: doesn’t that mean that he’s proud (teary proud?) of having killed someone?
What does it say about our justice system that the Governor of Illinois secretly decided to release many hundreds of offenders early, while publicly claiming he is being tougher on offenders, and, simultaneously, announcing the early release of 1,000 other offenders? A meritorious good time for the criminals, and bad times ahead for citizens and the police:
“MGT Push” has included more than 100 people convicted of potentially violent crimes, including aggravated and domestic battery, battering and assaulting police officers, aggravated robbery and reckless firearms discharge, the AP’s analysis shows. That’s not counting the prisoners serving time for nonviolent offenses who committed more serious crimes in the past, including murder.
Nine people were released Dec. 3, the same day that Quinn signed a law requiring prison time for gang members caught with guns.
The day before, Corrections sent home 20 others, including a man convicted of domestic battery who was confined for 19 days and a man who had spent a total of 20 days locked up for carrying a concealed weapon, records show.
Just in time for the holidays, domestic batterers, drunk drivers, and all. The Chicago Sun-Times reported this story yesterday morning. By evening, the Chicago Tribune was reporting that Governor Quinn was rescinding the secret program his spokesperson had denied the existence of earlier in the day. After only some 850 cut loose.
Yesterday morning, the Sun-Times took the time to explain how prison sentences are getting disappeared in Illinois. That is, one of the many ways:
Here’s how someone sentenced to a year in prison could be released after just a week or two:
— The law automatically waives half his sentence, cutting time in prison to just six months
— The Corrections Department also can grant six months of good-conduct time (based on conduct in prison, not county jail) for all but the most serious offenses. Theoretically, that could reduce time in prison to zero. Corrections maintains that historically, nearly all inmates eligible for good time get the full amount.
— In the past, the department had a policy — unwritten, according to Sandy Funk of the agency’s transfer coordinator’s office — of requiring inmates to serve at least 61 days before collecting any of that good-time credit. With that requirement gone, prisoners can be released after department processes them.
And what does it say about our justice system when a guy with a big advertisement that he has murdered a man literally tattooed on his face gets released for Meritorious Good Time 21 days into a year-long sentence when he is actually supposed to still be serving time for previous gun crimes?
I think it says this:
It doesn’t matter if you point a gun at a store clerk’s head and threaten to pull the trigger, scarring her for life. It doesn’t matter if you pistol-whip a rival gang member into intensive care, leaving the taxpayers with a hundred grand in hospital bills and lifetime disability payments to support some worthless thug. It doesn’t matter if you shoot at a cop who is trying to stop you from robbing a grocery store, at least so long as the cop survives, unlike Captain Dennis Darrell Cagle. No matter what you do, no matter what you cost society in human lives and money, some politician is going to let you walk.