Mathew Lee Wilks had the prototypical rap sheet of a murderer who was let off easy by a broken justice system. He has driving, theft, drug, firearms, and battery charges and convictions dating back to 2001, but he never served much time in prison. Last Friday, he allegedly murdered a female corrections officer in front of her son while she was teaching her son how to drive.
On Wednesday, Wilks was charged with first-degree murder of Tracey Smith, a sergeant for the Milwaukee Department of Corrections, during what is being described as a road rage incident. According to the criminal complaint based on Smith’s son’s account, the 17-year-old student driver was making a left turn with his mother in the car when a gold van driven by Wilks came from behind, cut them off, and collided with them mid-turn. He then alleges that when his mother got out of the car, Wilks yelled, “Bitch, I’ll kill you,” and then shot her fatally in the chest.
This wasn’t just an evil inclination in the passion of one heated moment. This man was a ticking time bomb.
Police later found a large quantity of cocaine and firearms in his home. And he had a history of just that – guns and firearms convictions. In February 2008, he was convicted on firearms and drug charges and was sentenced to 16 months in state prison, according to Wisconsin court records. In 2013, he was convicted on cocaine charges. He served just 30 days in prison despite being a repeat offender with firearms charges.
Given his past criminal history, it is inexcusable that he got off this easy for these more recent charges. According to arrest records, he was charged with battery in 2006 and numerous times for driving on a revoked license, yet he was never convicted. In 2001, he was found guilty for stealing a vehicle and was also arrested on multiple drug charges. He barely served more than a few days in jail, but had his license revoked. And in 2003, he was found guilty of criminal trespassing. As recently as January 14 of this year, he had his driver’s license suspended.
There are thousands upon thousands of people like Matthew Wilks in the system who never serve time for battery, drugs, and firearms – even for repeat offenses. If you want to know who will murder people with a gun (or other weapons), it is almost always from the pool of people with long rap sheets. These are the people who should be targeted by prosecutors, yet they are now getting off easy in the era of “criminal justice reform.” This is why Reagan’s effort to go after drug and gun felons with federal sentencing helped reduce the murder rate by 60 percent. One need not be a hawk against drug and gun crimes to appreciate that these are the people who are also committing more serious crimes.
Yet both parties keep repeating this false mantra that somehow we lock up first-time, low-level offenders for too long. In fact, we barely lock up the repeat offenders, and the trend is getting worse every year. This is why they are not deterred from repeat offenses. They know there are many ways to get off with a slap on the wrist. Victims like Tracey Smith never have a voice to be heard by the political elites and are made to suffer from the irresponsible jailbreak agenda.
From debating the issue of criminal justice reform, aka weak-on-crime initiatives, I’ve found that race seems to be the biggest motivator for many Republicans to join forces with the Left on jailbreak legislation. Even President Trump has begun to buy into this nonsense. But the old Trump had the correct view on this.
Likewise, the primary victims of violent crimes are in the African American and Hispanic communities. These people want LAW AND ORDER now!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2013
Indeed, in 2017, 1,272 more black people were killed (7,851) by homicide than white people (6,579), even though black people compose just 13 percent of the general population. Tracey Smith is the latest black victim of a growing trend in politics and law to keep violent offenders on the streets at any cost.
Rather than targeting the guns of law-abiding citizens while refusing to lock up criminals, it’s time to remember Reagan’s admonishment in 1984: “For too many years, the scales of criminal justice were tilted toward protecting rights of criminals. Those in charge forgot or just plain didn’t care about protecting your rights—the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.