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OPINION

Keeping Repeat Offenders Behind Bars Easier Said Than Done

 prisoner hands catch a steel cage in a cell
(Tinnakorn Jorruang/Dreamstime.com)

Michael Letts By Wednesday, 15 March 2023 11:40 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

It's true what they say. Some people just never learn.

You could send criminals to jail for years, but the minute they get out, they run the risk of falling back into old habits and committing another crime. That's not to say everyone is like this, but we've seen repeat offenders end up back in jail — particularly those that commit homicide again.

During a mayoral public safety media briefing in Washington, D.C., Police Chief Robert Contee made note of a solution that he feels would work.

"What we got to do, if we really want to see homicides go down, is keep bad guys with guns in jail. Because when they're in jail, they can't be in communities shooting people. So when people talk about what we gonna do different, or what we should do different, what we need to do different, that's the thing that we need to do different," he explained.

"We need to keep violent people in jail. Right now, the average homicide suspect has been arrested eleven times prior to them committing a homicide," Chief Contee continued. "That is a problem. That is a problem."

It really is. Right now, several cities are seeing record highs in criminal activity, including homicide. And to think, in the midst of all this, D.C. Democrat Council Chairman Phil Mendelson thought it would be a good idea to propose a crime bill that would actually provide lesser sentences for those committing robbery or carjacking.

Now, Mendelson pulled the bill. But that said, there's still a small chance that the Senate could vote it into law this week. If that's the case, it could be a disaster for the nation's Capital. And here's why.

Crime is crime. Obviously homicide is the worst of the bunch out there, but giving anyone the ample opportunity to get out there and be a repeat offender for something as "small" (as some may put it) as carjacking or burglary is still asking for trouble.

The goal of sentencing these criminals is making them understand what they did wrong, and hoping they've learned their lesson from it. As you might have seen from the growing rate of repeat offenders, this isn't always the case.

That said, I'm sure there are some that would argue against Conlee's statement, calling it "inhumane" and instead calling for "better" treatment of criminals under D.C. Police watch. But…it's not that clear cut.

As I've stated, making their stays in jail smaller isn't the answer. It's about making sure they serve their sentence and, provided they've learned and been on good behavior, then providing the possibility of a smaller sentence. Repeat offenders, obviously, shouldn't get off so lightly.

First-time offenders can be different — depending on the crime, obviously. If it's homicide, it's still severe and the punishment must be as well. But providing a sentence in which they can learn and try to better themselves makes sense, instead of trying to reduce it automatically, as Mendelson's bill aims to do.

Conlee has a point with his statement — keeping the "violent criminals" in jail so they can't hurt anyone again — but it's not so clear-cut when it comes to the state of today's law.

Obviously, Mendelson's bill wouldn't help, giving some criminals the option to strike again if they haven't learned their lesson. But there are also other things to consider, such as lack of evidence or a lawyer that knows just the right way to get someone off the hook.

I do like where Conlee's head is at, but the system isn't so clear cut anymore.

I do hope it all gets cleared away and we get back to delivering justice the right way again. But, for now, all our police forces can do is keep trying, and making sure those repeat offenders don't get the chance to hurt anyone again.

In the end, though, the statement remains the same – some people never learn. All we can do is try.

Michael Letts is the Founder and CEO of In-Vest USA, a national grassroots nonprofit organization helping to re-fund police by contributing thousands of bulletproof vests for police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs. He also has over 30 years of law enforcement experience. Read More Michael Letts reports — Here.

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MichaelLetts
It's true what they say. Some people just never learn.
bill, repeat offenders, prison, jail
712
2023-40-15
Wednesday, 15 March 2023 11:40 AM
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