Let me decode the Orwellian trope of “criminal justice reform” for you. It means keeping more violent criminals on the streets so they can further intimidate witnesses and guarantee even fewer convictions and prison sentences. Now, every story you read about crime will make sense.
When New York Democrats passed a law automatically releasing most criminals pending their trials while also giving them access to information about witnesses and victims, they knew exactly what they were doing. Witness intimidation is not a bug of “bail reform” and jailbreak policies; it is a feature designed to ensure that fewer people testify at trial, thereby reducing the likelihood of a conviction that will result in prison time. A recent Georgia case is a perfect example.
While Georgia hasn’t gone as far as New York in prison and jail release policies, many judges throughout the country are releasing extremely dangerous criminals on little or no bond. It’s certainly the latest fad throughout the Peach State. In 2017, Paul Sherwood Lyle Jr., 35, was arrested in Clayton County on charges of child molestation and sexual battery against a child under age 16. Yet he was released on just $75,000 bond, which usually means just 10 percent of it must be paid in cash.
Just those charges alone should have warranted a higher bail, but like most criminals, this was not his first time in trouble with the law. According to Georgia court records, Lyle racked up several dozen criminal charges over the past two decades, including burglary, theft, criminal trespassing, assault, making terrorist threats, and multiple hit-and-run accidents. He was even arrested for a hit-and-run incident earlier this year while out on bond. But the trend in criminal justice to keep repeat offenders out of jail, even when they offend while out on bond or parole, is evidently strong in this allegedly red state.
Fast-forward to last Wednesday. Lyle was arrested by Clayton County sheriff’s deputies for trying to intimidate the victim in the original child molestation case. According to the sheriff’s office, “While out on bond, Lyle made contact with another minor, a 15-year-old, and convinced the minor to go to the home of the victim of the previous incident and attack them in an attempt to intimidate the witness.” After the county DA issued a warrant for his arrest for violation of a protective order, the sheriff’s fugitive squad apprehended Lyle “while standing at an elementary school bus stop with no justifiable reason for being there.” According to the public notice from the department, “It is to be noted that the subject was found to have a bottle of pink fingernail polish in his pocket. We can only speculate as to why.”
Lyle is now charged with aggravated stalking and influencing witness. Thank God in Georgia there is still modicum of common sense left, and he was held without bond. Had this taken place in New York, he would have been released again. In fact, in New York, the prosecution has to turn over all sorts of information on witnesses and victims to the defendants. So now that they are all out on the streets, they will have all the tools they need to ensure that no conviction is secured. This is the future of criminal justice in America now that the concept of pretrial holding is gradually being abolished. Not only will it pose a massive public safety concern, it will ensure that few convictions are made because nobody will want to testify. Prosecutors tell me that the biggest impediment to landing a conviction is the fear of victims and witnesses to come forward, which is why DAs have to arrange plea deals more often than not.