Every Democrat presidential candidate and too many Republicans repeat the lie that too many people are locked up for too long for first-time, non-violent offense. The dirty little secret is that most of the prison population is composed of repeat violent criminals, who are already given too many leniencies and not locked up long enough. Continuing this trend of loosening sentences, avoiding incarceration, and sometimes even avoiding arrests just to lower the prison population will induce a massive crime wave. And we are already seeing it on the horizon.
Over this past weekend, two hero cops were shot dead, one in Houston and one in New York City, thanks to jailbreak policies that placed violent offenders on parole instead of behind bars. On Friday, Houston’s first Sikh officer, Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, was walking back to his patrol car after pulling over Robert Solis for a routine traffic stop, when Solis allegedly got out of his car and shot the policeman in an ambush-style attack.
Who is Robert Solis? Unfortunately, he has the all-too-familiar violent rap sheet that is common on the streets today, yet despite his violent history, he was out on parole. A quick search of Harris County court records shows a 30-year career criminal history that includes burglary, theft, multiple arrests for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, robbery with a deadly weapon, drunk driving, and multiple kidnapping charges.
In 2002, Solis was convicted for shooting a man in the leg and then holding his own toddler son hostage with a gun during a standoff with police. He was sentenced to 20 years, but thanks to Texas’ jailbreak policies, he was let out in 2014 after serving just 12. OK, second chances, right? Well, as we’ve witnessed across the country, the same motivation behind letting these people out of jail is also driving the push to keep them out of jail despite violating parole. In 2016, he was arrested for DUI, but was not sent back to prison for violating his parole. A year later, a warrant was issued for his arrest after he was caught possessing a gun, but he managed to be a fugitive for two years, eventually resulting in the murder of this hero officer.
This is a man who had a history of gun felonies, yet he was allowed out of prison and was not sent back at the first sign of trouble. Before Texas’ political leaders look into gun control, maybe they ought to ease off the jailbreak policies of career gun felons and institute some criminal control.
Then there is the case of Antonio Lavance Williams in the Bronx, NY. On Sunday, Williams reportedly struggled with NYPD Officer Brian Mulkeen in what became a fatal shooting killing both the officer and Williams. Williams had his own gun, but Mulkeen was heard saying, “He’s reaching for it,” fearing the suspect would take his gun. It was originally thought that Williams fired the fatal shot, but it turns out that Mulkeen’s colleagues fired the shots in a fatal friendly-fire incident. Either way, this would never have happened had Williams been behind bars.
Williams was originally convicted of burglary in 2011. He was paroled in 2015, but was caught in a drug bust in 2018. However, because of the stigma against locking up drug traffickers, including those with prior felonies, Williams was paroled through 2022. He was caught again in January of this year for larceny in Binghamton, but got off with a $100 fine. He failed to appear in another case in May, according to the New York Daily News. Again, on August 15, he was arraigned on harassment charges but was released the same day. That case stemmed from a charge of assaulting his girlfriend after she found drugs and a firearm in his closet during a domestic dispute. Thus, he had numerous violations of his parole, but was never sent back to prison. And of course, as no law-abiding New Yorker is able to carry a gun for protection to deter the endless “knockout” attacks, this felon had no qualms about carrying a weapon.
These two cases resulted in the deaths of police officers, but unfortunately these are exactly the types of people who cycle in and out of the criminal justice system. Low-level “first-time” criminals don’t serve any time, but as we see here, even many of the repeat violent offenders don’t serve enough time. Whenever you see the push for jailbreak initiatives under the guise of not filling up the prisons with low-level offenders, just remember it is people like Williams and Solis who will be released.
According to a report by Rafael Mangual of the Manhattan Institute, “60% of state prisoners are serving time for murder, rape, assault, robbery, or burglar.” That is four times the number convicted only of drug offenses, who themselves are often committing other violent crimes or arrested for other crimes but plead down.
Yet as it stands now, even without the more robust jailbreak policies the bipartisan political elites are seeking to implement, “less than 15% of state felony convictions result in more than two years served in prison; even 20% of those imprisoned for murder, and nearly 60% of those imprisoned for rape or sexual assault, serve less than five years of their sentences.”
Only 15 percent of those serving time in state prison are for drugs, and most of those are repeat offenders with long rap sheets. Even those people only serve an average of 17 months for trafficking offenses. As Fordham University law professor John Pfaff wrote in a recent Politico op-ed, “If we freed everyone in prison tomorrow except that 25 percent who are there for murder, manslaughter or sexual assault, we’d still have an incarceration rate higher than that of almost every European country.”
Moreover, that analysis doesn’t even factor in the reality that many of the violent offenders don’t serve that much time and so many more violent offenses go unsolved without resulting in an arrest. For example, just in one year, 6,013 murder cases went uncleared by law enforcement. In addition, 79,310 rape cases, 206,091 robbery cases, and 349,190 aggravated assault cases were uncleared in 2017, according to the FBI.
The fact that most states have reversed the incarceration trend sharply in recent years even for these sorts of convicts has resulted in a rise in victimization in many cities. Why is Baltimore the way it is? The average murder suspect in 2017 in this city, according to city police data, had nine prior arrests, and 70 percent had prior arrests for drugs. The people doing all the crime are barely serving time. In total, 85 percent of murder suspect had a criminal record, and 44 percent were previously arrested for gun crimes. Thus, while law-abiding citizens in the city can’t carry weapons for defense, known gun felons are barely punished at all. Overall, the Maryland prison population has plummeted by 30 percent over the past decade, even as the population grew.
The moral of the story is that we simply have a ton of violent crime in this country, and the less we deter it with more lenient criminal justice, the more of it we will get. The Left’s answer is to remove all consequences to criminal behavior in the hope that unicorn “anti-recidivism programs” will magically solve the problem of crime without the need for punishment and deterrent. At some point, the people need to speak out, because if they don’t, the politicians certainly won’t do it for them.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.