For every terrible police action, how many career criminals are given too many leniencies, to the point when clear public safety threats are released in order to kill? They are too numerous to count. They are the rule, yet our politicians focus on the exception, not the rule, in their legislative and policy fixes. The people most often harmed by our weak revolving door of jail and prison releases are African-American homicide victims. This is demonstrated by the case of Ryan Long of Lincoln, Nebraska.
Republicans have joined Democrats in recent years in the disastrous push to lower or abolish cash bail rather than increase it for repeat offenders. We have certainly seen the disastrous effects of this policy in New York. But there are other places that haven’t abolished bail yet liberally release repeat offenders on very low bail, even when they committed previous violent crime while out on bail.
Take a look at 30-year-old Ryan Long and ask yourself what the system should have done with him when he was arrested for DUI on May 15.
- Pending charge in October 2019 for assault and robbery of a man. He posted just $1,000 to get out of jail a day later.
- Pending charge on January 10, 2020, for allegedly shooting a woman in the thigh with a .22 caliber gun. Despite the first bond violation, he was out six days later on just $10,000.
- On April 23, 2020, he’s involved in a rollover crash that wrecked an entire block, where he was found with marijuana, an open bottle of Crown Royal, and a BAC of .196.
Now fast-forward to May 15, when he is arrested for another DUI, which was his third career drunk driving offense. What do you think the justice system should do with him? This man is clearly a violent threat both physically and on the road. He has now violated the original bond three times!
Shouldn’t a repeat offender with a violent threat assessment, especially from pending charges for which he is already out on bail, be denied bail or at least have bail set at a high level? Well, he was released four days later after paying just $7,000. Four days after that, Long was arrested for the murder of 31-year-old Michael Whitemagpie in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, after he was pulled over and found to be in possession of a stolen 9mm handgun. Whitemagpie appears to be just one example of the forgotten 7,400+ annual black lives lost to homicide, mainly killed by repeat violent offenders who go undeterred and unpunished.
This is not even among the crazier bail stories I’ve written about in the past. But it reflects the rule, rather than the exception. There are thousands upon thousands of known violent criminals who continue to slip through the system. Why is there no regard for this part of public safety? Why is there no legislative push to end this jailbreak rather than enlarge it? Why is there no regard for victims of crime and African-American homicide victims like Michael Whitemagpie? Do those lives not matter?
We have a real crisis, with repeat violent offenders being let out onto the streets more than ever, yet both parties are pushing a one-sided agenda to abolish pretrial bail, reduce or eliminate sentencing, limit policing, and create more barriers to prosecuting criminals. Mitch McConnell is talking about some sort of federal legislation to clamp down on cops. Lindsey Graham, after spearheading jailbreak “reform” is now pushing “policing reform.”
Why is the focus on criminal justice always a one-way street?