Rarely do we give victims the help they need or the attention they deserve. Yet the protection of our citizens — to guard them from becoming victims — is the primary purpose of our penal laws. Thus, each new victim personally represents an instance in which our system has failed to prevent crime. Lack of concern for victims compounds that failure.” ~Ronald Reagan, April 8, 1981, proclamation creating National Crime Victims Week.
Gerald Washington, 27, of Houston should be the poster child for criminal justice reform on behalf of victims of crime, but this is the side of the issue that is never discussed by the “reform” movement, which simply does not believe in incarceration.
29-year-old Reginald Larry was on his way to visit his grandmother last week when he stopped off at a corner store in Houston to get a drink. That’s when Houston police say Washington shot and killed him just outside the store with no apparent motive. He remains a fugitive as of this writing.
This could have happened to anyone else in the wrong place at the wrong time, but if we had true criminal justice reform that prioritizes public safety over criminal freedoms, Larry would be alive today.
Washington was already charged with murdering a woman and shooting two others, but he was released on bail. And he had a criminal history and parole violations before that murder, but was still granted bail. Here’s the criminal history, according to ABC13.
A search of Harris County court records also shows a criminal trespassing charge and assault resulting in bodily injury in 2013. He served just 30 days and was given parole. He also spent 45 days in jail in 2016 for evading arrest.
He was wearing an ankle bracelet during this past release on bond, but it evidently did not prevent him from shooting Larry. Police say he has cut off his ankle monitor since the murder last week and remains a fugitive.
It’s a known fact that ankle bracelets simply do not deter violent criminals if they are not incarcerated, and there are too few officers to monitor too many volatile criminals. Yet our entire justice system, along with the weight of dozens of well-funded “criminal justice reform” nonprofits, only have the concerns of people like Gerald Washington in mind with their policies, not people like Reginald Larry.
What this case also demonstrates is that the weak-on-crime judges and policies are not only native to blue states, but are alive and well in states like Texas, particularly in Harris County. In December, a female Houston police officer was allegedly killed by Tavores Dewayne Henderson, a man who openly bragged about avoiding jail time, despite his extensive criminal record in three counties. Then, even after the capital murder charge, he was initially offered $150,000 bond before it was revoked.
Harris County is following in the footsteps of New York by abolishing pretrial jail in most cases. In addition to the problem of releasing dangerous violent criminals, there is further concern from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that such policies will lead to the release of criminal aliens before ICE is able to apprehend them, in contravention to the state’s anti-sanctuary law.
This concern played out in real life when Emilio Duarte-Lone, an illegal alien from Honduras with a deportation order, was arrested for DWI in December, but was released by Harris County without being turned over to ICE. He, of course, failed to show up to his January 24 court hearing and remains a fugitive.
I often hear proponents of jailbreak policies dismiss our concerns of rising crime after 25 years of plummeting crime by suggesting that most of the murders taking place are gang-on-gang violence, as if law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear. But career criminals like Gerald Washington don’t necessarily discriminate in choosing their victims. Just ask the family of Reginald Larry.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.