“Juveniles too often are not held accountable for their conduct, and the system perpetuates this lack of accountability.” ~Report from President Reagan’s Task Force on Victims of Crime
In case you thought that constant release of violent repeat offenders was limited to places like New York, I present you with the case of D’Shawn Garrison in Georgia. Nearly 100 percent of the focus on criminal justice in all 50 states is now geared toward leniencies for people like Garrison, not his victims.
According to the Atlanta Police Department, D’Shawn Garrison has been arrested a dozen times, including for armed robbery, even though he is only 17 years old. Throughout his criminal history, he spent barely any time in jail. As WJCL reports, he was most recently arrested earlier this year on charges of theft and involvement in a carjacking, but he was released despite his record. As part of his release, he was forced to wear an ankle monitor, but those monitors fail to deter and incapacitate criminals the way incarceration does. One unnamed woman allegedly paid the price when, according to Fulton County Police, Garrison attacked her just three days later on May 9 while she was jogging in broad daylight.
“He was wearing an ankle monitor when he attacked me. I don’t know how many crimes this kid has to commit before they actually keep him in jail,” the unnamed mother of two told WJCL.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the assault only stopped because of a good Samaritan who intervened and held down Garrison until police came. Garrison was charged with rape, aggravated assault by strangulation, battery that caused substantial physical harm, and interference with government property. Police at the time were perplexed that it took something like this to finally hold Garrison. Little did they know, he’d be granted bond again.
This woman is yet another victim of the broken criminal justice system that liberals in both parties want to make even more lenient for people like Garrison. But it gets worse than that. Even after he was arrested for rape and aggravated assault, Fulton County Superior Judge Rachel Krause agreed to reinstate his bail at just $50,000. But fear not, she is making him wear an ankle monitor!
This is part of a broader trend of weak sentencing and pretrial release from jail even for repeat violent offenders, but it’s a particular problem with juveniles. Unfortunately, there are a lot of teenagers who are capable of committing brutal crimes, yet there is no deterrent because they are barely punished these days, even for serious crimes. In my part of Baltimore County, there is a rash of carjackings being committed by teens who often have at least five felonies within six months because of catch-and-release.
Government was created so people can enjoy their liberty to move about unrestricted without fear of being carjacked or raped while jogging. Yet there seems to be no voice, even in red states, to solve this aspect of the criminal justice problem. None of these criminal justice commissions being created by Republican governors are factoring in the needs of victims and public safety. Instead, there is a bipartisan consensus to become more and more lenient on criminals across the entire justice system.
It’s eerie to look back and examine what President Reagan’s Task Force on Victims of Crime observed about the juvenile justice system in its final report:
“Armed robbery, rape, and murder cannot be laid at the door of mere immaturity or youthful exuberance. The victims of these crimes are no less traumatized because the offender was under age. A substantial proportion of the violent crime in this country is committed by juveniles, who are becoming more violent at an increasingly early age.”
How ominous were those warnings, as the culture of violence has grown exponentially worse since the 1980s and as so many of the federal and state policies inspired by Reagan to protect victims of crime get reversed.
The lack of deterrent against repeat offenders is causing a spike in crime in Atlanta just like in other big cities in blue states. One police zone in Atlanta, which includes midtown, experienced an 11 percent increase in robberies and a 36 percent increase in thefts that police blame on repeat offenders cycling in and out of jail. A recent report from the Atlanta Repeat Offender Commission sheds some light on why crime is increasing. In 2017 and 2018, just 23 percent of repeat offenders arrested by Atlanta police were sentenced to any degree of confinement by Fulton County Superior Court judges — a decrease of nearly 14 percent from those sentenced in 2016. The most common sentence issued by a Fulton judge was “time served.” Yet now, not only are few of them being sentenced to prison time, but more of them are being released from pretrial jail on ridiculously low bail.
And remember, by not deterring those who commit robbery and theft, not only will these cities experience more of those crimes, but these individuals will also be the most likely pool of rape and homicide offenders. This is true where I live in Baltimore County. As carjackings grow rampant, murders spiked 85 percent this past year, setting an all-time record.
There is a gathering storm of increasing crime across America. Several years’ worth of weak-on-crime policies have ensured that more bad guys are out on the streets than we’ve seen in a generation. With these criminals back on the streets and with the understanding that the system is reluctant to reincarcerate them, they will continue to offend. Criminals are no different from Iran. The same way Iran kept ratcheting up its attacks, knowing that we were reluctant to engage, criminals will continue to commit crimes if they don’t anticipate a likelihood of hard prison time awaiting them after being arrested. This is especially true of juveniles.
The only question now is how bad things have to get before the people demand a course correction.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.