You can't make these jailbreak stories up. Just how insanely liberal were some judges in granting early release to the nation's most dangerous criminals simply because of the virus? Enough for them to kill the very people whom the compassionate release was designed to help.
Erik James Reinbold plead guilty to ramming a car with his wife and children in it six years ago. In 2018, he was convicted of building pipe bombs as part of a broader plot he spelled out in a survival manual to spawn a revolution and attack police. Yet he was released last March after serving less than half the sentence because he claimed his wife (the one he tried to hurt) needed help with the children after she contracted COVID-19 (but easily recovered, being in her 40s). Now Reinbold is wanted by police for killing his wife.
The U.S. Marshals have issued a $10,000 reward for anyone who finds Reinbold, who is wanted in connection with the death of his wife in rural Pennington County, Minnesota, on Friday. In a world where even nonviolent January 6 protesters who served in the military were held without bail pretrial during COVID, Reinbold was released from federal prison last March after serving just 27 months of his 60-month federal sentence for making pipe bombs.
In 2018, federal investigators found a 32-page notebook on Reinbold's desk titled "How one person can make a difference: Instruction booklet at the HCU (homemade commando university)," in which he penned a guide "to start the second American Revolution and win."
"(Reinbold) systematically set about creating bomb after bomb with unnerving attention to detail and destructive capability," the prosecution said in court filings. "This was no mere passing interest to make one rudimentary bomb."
According to a Grand Forks Herald article in 2018, "The prosecution also listed what it called Reinbold's 'violent beliefs,' citing writings from his notebook that said 'why cops are garbage,' encouraged the gunning down of teachers and listed 'weaponry that included a gun, knife and "rape,"' according to court filings."
This is not just a guy who liked to build bombs and muse about violent uprisings but never actually showed a proclivity for violence. He was convicted of repeatedly ramming a vehicle into a pickup truck occupied by his wife and children in a June 2015 incident that led to a 12-hour standoff with local law enforcement in northwest Minnesota. He doesn't appear to have been punished by the state for that crime. As for the federal weapons conviction, for all the talk about draconian federal sentencing, this man's sentence was actually pretty low, and because of COVID he was able to suggest that somehow the relatively young wife whom he tried to kill needed his help because of COVID. Now she is dead because of that "compassionate release."
In many respects this case tragically shows the entire movement of criminal justice reform and compassionate release, in that they deny compassion to the very people they claim to protect. Easing off punishment and promoting parole over imprisonment have devastated the very black communities "reformers" said suffered from enforcing laws. With crime soaring in places like Indianapolis, 63% of murder victims this year were black, even though they compose just 30% of the population. In Rochester, New York, where 40% of the population is black, black people composed 90% of the shooting victims so far in 2021.
But putting race aside, we know that almost all of the murders are being committed by repeat violent offenders who should have been behind bars, but are now roaming the streets thanks to criminal justice deform. Why should they fear the police when they know they will be released by the (in)justice system? As one New York City prosecutor recently said of the violent juvenile gang wars in the Bronx, "They don't go to jail, so they do robberies, get in fights and carry guns."
Minnesota already has a culture of leniency in the justice system, and it has only been exacerbated by the Floyd riots, which have led to a record number of shootings and carjackings. "A lot of these folks are getting out quickly and committing the same crimes again," explained Stephanie Revering, the head the Hennepin County Chiefs of Police Association, in a recent interview with Fox9. "You talk about carjackings, they get out and commit carjackings again, and then we sit back and ask, 'How this is happening?'"
Just look at the history of any suspect in a high-profile shooting and understand that this is the same profile of those committing the ones you never hear about. The suspect in the shooting at the Houston aquarium last week had a history of mental illness and was out on bail after three arrests in one year. There is finally a push in Texas to get tougher on bail, after nearly a decade of weak-on-crime policies being pushed by state Republicans and Koch-funded libertarian think tanks.
Bryan Rhoden, the man charged in the high-profile triple murder last week in Georgia that resulted in the killing of pro golfer Gene Siller, was never locked up after having shot a man in his college dorm parking lot. Former DA Paul Howard, who was recently defeated because of his pro-criminal record, dismissed the charges. He never served time in jail. Even after having allegedly committed the three murders, Rhoden was initially released after being arrested for DUI and the local police system failed to pick up the warrant for murder. The next day he was re-arrested for the three murders. He is accused of driving his truck onto a golf course at Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw and killing Siller. The bodies of two other victims were found in his vehicle.
So not only was this avoidable, but the culture of catch-and-release was so prevalent that a high-profile murderer was initially released after being caught. And no, more funding for the police will not make a dent in crime until the entire justice system is overhauled to work for society and victims of crime.Until focus and priority of our justice system swing back toward victims rather than criminals, murder and mayhem will continue to skyrocket in all corners of the country. All in the name of compassion, of course.