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Horowitz: The parole of murderers and the silencing of victims
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Horowitz: The parole of murderers and the silencing of victims

George Gascon, the new Soros-backed district attorney in Los Angeles, promised "the lowest level of intervention for the criminal justice system." That quite literally means letting murderers out of prison.

In 1991, Howard Elwin Jones was convicted of murdering two teenagers at a party. Jones, a known gang member, should have received the death penalty, but because he was just shy of his 18th birthday at the time of the murders, he was sentenced to 45 years in prison. After Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 260 into law, most juvenile murderers became eligible retroactively for parole after 25 years.

In the past, eligibility for parole didn't mean automatic release, especially for convicted murderers, but now with prosecutors in major cities acting like defense attorneys, it is making it a lot harder to keep denying them parole at their biannual hearings. After being denied parole in 2015 and 2017, constantly making the victims' families relive the experience over and over again, Jones was granted parole earlier this year and will be released next week. Thus, while his victims will remain teenagers in the grave forever, Jones now gets to live a normal life and is only 50 years old.

So, what changed this time at the parole hearing? According to KTTV-TV's Bill Melugan, George Gascon has barred all prosecutors in the DA's office from attending parole hearings, much less advocating on behalf of the victims' families, even in the worst cases. Dianne Baker-Taylor, the sister of one of Jones' victims who was forced to attend the hearing alone, told KTTV that Jones didn't even express remorse. "It's isolating, you feel alone, you don't feel like you have anybody in your corner," she said.

According to Baker-Taylor, Governor Gavin Newsom never replied to her plea against the release of Jones, and the only correspondence the family ever got from the state was the letter of notification that Jones would be released.

The entire criminal justice system is designed to advocate on behalf of the criminals while shafting the victims, yet the politicians still think the criminal justice system is too punitive for criminals.

Since his election last year, Gascon announced numerous changes to the office, including that his prosecutors would no longer charge any juvenile as an adult or seek the death penalty for any murderer. He also stopped filing enhancement charges for gang members or those with multiple prior felony convictions.

The results have been devastating. According to L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who now has to deal with the fallout from Gascon's policies, every major crime category is up significantly over this time last year. In May 2021, the county experienced a 95% increase in murder, a 7% increase in rape, a 13% increase in aggravated assaults, a 40% increase in grand theft auto, and a 22% increase in arson incidents, compared to May 2020.

Most people are following the recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom, but the recall against Gascon is likely to make a bigger impact. In the case of the gubernatorial election, it's quite unlikely that a Republican will unseat Newsom in California. But a successful recall election against Gascon in L.A. County would likely trigger the emergence of another Democrat who is more friendly to law enforcement and victims of crime, similar to the prior prosecutor Gascon unseated in a runoff election last year. Recall organizers have until October 27 to gather 580,000 signatures, a goal they are confident they will exceed.

Republicans would be stupid not to latch onto the crime issue and use it as a cudgel in suburban neighborhoods in all 50 states. While California usually leads the nation in pro-criminal trends, the movement to parole some of the worst criminals is endemic of many other states. Virginia's parole board has released dozens of murderers, as has the state of Massachusetts.

However, the political jailbreak of violent prisoners is not just in blue states. Utah has a crisis of hundreds of violent criminals being paroled, while parole officers are becoming reluctant to reincarcerate them after they violate the terms of parole. A KUTV report from Wendy Halloran discovered that Terence Trent Vos, one of the most notorious gangsters in Salt Lake City, who was serving time for drive-by shootings, aggravated assaults, robberies, and weapons violations, was granted a rare form of compassionate release in 2020 because his daughter was murdered by her own mother. Now his girlfriend is dead, allegedly murdered by Vos in May.

It took just five weeks for Vos to wind up back in prison after he was caught drunk driving. But then COVID hit, and like other red states, Utah released a bunch of criminals including Vos. When parole officers attempted to visit Vos on a routine follow-up, they could not make contact with him but did find bullet holes in Vos' home. The officers never followed up on the suspicious activity, nor did they issue a warrant for his arrest after they failed to make contact with him for months.

On Jan. 30, 2021, Vos' girlfriend pressed charges after he allegedly beat her severely in a restaurant. By that point the system had failed, and the ankle monitor they gave Vos turned out to be worthless. Police later found the body of Vos' girlfriend, Shandon Scott, in a car on Interstate 80 on May 1.

Just this week in allegedly conservative Fort Wayne, Indiana, Cohen Bennett Hancz-Barron, 21, was arrested for the gruesome murder of a woman and three children. Local media report that the suspect had a robbery conviction for which he was sentenced in February to six years in prison, but was allowed to serve all of the sentence at home! Just two months later, police filed a "notice of escape" and a warrant for his arrest, but as always it was too late. They could not locate him before the murder.

Now imagine a country with tens of thousands more people like him out on the streets, supposedly being monitored by parole officers, thanks to criminal justice deform. Do you feel safer?

The only question now is when all the "conservative" governors who joined the Soros DAs and blue-state governors in promoting de-incarceration will realize their failed social experiment is destroying the country.

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Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz

Blaze Podcast Host

Daniel Horowitz is the host of “Conservative Review with Daniel Horowitz” and a senior editor for Blaze News.
@RMConservative →