Republicans seeking to weaken our anti-crime deterrent rather than strengthen it in the face of mass rioting are learning the wrong lesson from the creeping anarchy in this country.
The case of Antonio Harris, one of the many looters arrested in Chicago, should serve as a stark reminder that our criminal justice system is actually way too lax against the most violent career criminals, not too tough.
One of the major points being obscured in this debate is that crime has been increasing in many major cities over the past few years, after two decades of steady declines. It coincides with the near-universal movement toward leniency at every stage of the justice system being pushed by the bipartisan Soros-Koch alliance under what is known as “criminal justice reform.”
Hundreds of thousands of criminals have been released in recent years, 67,000 just under the pretext of avoiding coronavirus in jail and prison. A relatively small number of career criminals commit most of the violent crime in the country. President Reagan understood this, which is why he led a successful generational effort to take those people off the streets.
Well, those people are now back on the streets. That is the only logical explanation for how this degree of violence could spontaneously erupt in so many cities. It would be useful to study the criminal histories of those being charged with rioting crimes, but unfortunately, most of them are being released. However, the case of Antonio Harris provides us with a glimpse into the problem with our justice system, which is completely opposite of the problems alleged by the mindless Republicans who, out of fear or ignorance, parrot the talking points of the Left about the need for weaker deterrent.
As CWB Chicago reports, Antonio Harris, 46, and Caprise Stevenson were arrested in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago for stealing shoes from a New Balance store. Who is Antonio Harris?
Harris was convicted of first-degree murder in 1999. It’s not easy for prosecutors to get a conviction on murder-one charges, so it must have been really bad. He was locked up for life, right? Nope. He received a 25-year sentence but was let out after serving just half of it. He has been sent back to prison for three felony drug convictions since being paroled in the murder case, according to prosecutors. He also has a pending felony case of criminal damage to government property.
Yet he was out, free to commit more crime. As I noted yesterday, in the case of another murder suspect who was released despite violating the terms of his bond three times, this is the rule in the system, not the exception. There are thousands upon thousands of people like this. Proponents of jailbreak claim that the system is too tough on nebulous crimes and that people deserve second chances. The reality is that, with few exceptions, even the most violent murderers are given way more than two chances and continue cycling out of the revolving jail door only to commit more crimes.
With that in mind, now you can understand the degree of mortal danger we are in with these riots as compared to 10-15 years ago. There are thousands upon thousands of career violent criminals on the streets. There is simply no deterrent against crime in general – the riots merely lit that pre-existing fuse set up by the bipartisan leniency push over the past few years.
This jailbreak movement began with a claim that we need to grant more grace to “first-time, nonviolent, low-level” offenders. But the truth is that these people were nearly always given grace – by a mile. Our prisons were only filled with career criminals. Now we are seeing this every day, as they brazenly release the worst violent offenders, including murderers.
The lesson to take away from this calamity is that we need to restore deterrent in the justice system. The cops in the George Floyd case have been swiftly charged. There certainly is deterrent now against police brutality, especially in the case of an African-American. However, there is almost zero justice, and therefore no deterrent, against all of the attacks on citizens both during the riots and during the everyday street crime incidents the media chooses to ignore. A number of black cops have been killed or injured over the past week. Where is the outrage or calls for “systemic” discussions and legislative solutions?
Indeed, the cries of injustice today represent the ultimate case of projection.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.