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Horowitz: When setting someone on fire is considered a low-level crime

Op-ed
Matthieu LE Mauff/Getty Images

So, what would you define as a “nonviolent, low-level” crime eligible for cheap bond? How about setting a pregnant woman on fire and breaking out of jail on just $5,000 bond?

Devonne Marsh, 42, had a two-decade violent criminal record under his belt when he allegedly poured lighter fluid on his girlfriend and set her on fire in his Malcomb, Michigan, home. The victim was 27 weeks pregnant with twins and remains in the hospital in critical condition with burns on more than 60% of her body. According to the Macomb Daily, police say the victim was being held against her will and tortured. The total list of charges against Marsh last Friday includes attempted murder, assault and battery of a pregnant individual, domestic violence, assault with intent to do great bodily harm, delivery/manufacturing of controlled substances, felony possession, felonious assault, and felony firearm.

Now, one would expect someone like this to be held without bail, you know, like those military veterans held without bail in D.C. for trespassing charges, even though they have no prior criminal history. Instead, his bond was set at just $50,000, which means he was released on just $5,000 cash deposit. This, despite the fact that not only is he a convicted violent felon, but according to the Michigan Department of Corrections, he absconded from probation since 2020 and has an outstanding arrest warrant from the Livonia Police Department.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced she is filing a motion to have Marsh's bail increased. She said: “His original bond was woefully inadequate, and we will be seeking a more appropriate bond given these charges.” However, like all big-city prosecutors, Kym Worthy is part of a political party that supports the de-incarceration agenda, which has created a culture of leniency up and down the criminal justice system. Sure, they will get embarrassed by bad PR from low bail requirements after heinous crimes are committed, but why are these criminals given so many chances to commit these crimes in the first place? The judges in the big urban centers reflect these values and have continuously set bail at appallingly low levels for such dangerous criminals.

Meanwhile, in Houston, Emmanuel Mallard, 27, is charged with a similar crime, allegedly brutally beating his wife and then burning down the house with her in it. She managed to escape, and the suspect is still on the run. But again, such behavior doesn’t occur in a vacuum. From 2013 to 2019, he racked up a rap sheet that included charges related to theft of property, burglary of vehicle, obstruction or retaliation, terroristic threat in a public place, and various charges of assault of a family or household member with bodily injury. How could someone like that have been out of jail enough to commit that many crimes?

According to police, the victim claims the husband was attempting to kill her to prevent her from testifying against him in a previous case. He allegedly tied her up in her father’s home, stripped her clothes, stabbed her in the stomach, hit her with a crowbar, and threw a cloth doused with lighter fluid on her as he set the house ablaze.

Notice he was trying to prevent her from testifying about a previous case. This is what happens when criminals are constantly released. Not only are they free to commit more crimes, but it makes it harder to convict them on the previous crimes because they are able to constantly threaten victims and witnesses.

What about child sex crimes? Do you think relatively low bail is a good idea for those criminals? Are they also considered low-level? Moss Worthington is charged with two counts of luring a minor for sexual exploitation, 11 counts of sexual conduct with a minor, and two counts of custodial interference in connection with the kidnapping of two teen girls in Tucson. He was originally held on $250,000 bond in December, but was released on Friday after bail was reduced to just $50,000. What do you think this does to the ability of the victims and their families to testify against him?

Then there is the juvenile crime crisis. In the Houston domestic violence case, Mallard also had a record when he was a juvenile. That is another facet of our broken justice system and failed deterrent. It begins when they are juveniles, as minors are increasingly committing more numerous and violent crimes than ever before. Once they learn not to fear the justice system as minors, that behavior is never deterred when they are adults.

Just a day before the alleged Mallard incident in Houston, 17 year-old Frank Deleon Jr. is accused of shooting his girlfriend Diamond Alvarez 22 times. Despite the heinous murder charge, he was released the very next day after posting a $250,000 bond. I would say this is another example of lax juvenile justice laws, but we now see adult murder suspects being released as well. And if murder suspects who are juveniles are released on bail, you can only imagine those who commit “lower” level crimes, such as carjackings, are free in perpetuity.

The nation is suffering from a carjacking crisis, nearly all of which is committed by juveniles. According to Philadelphia police, there have been 90 carjackings just during the first half of January in the City of Brotherly Love. They say most of the carjackings are being committed by juveniles between the ages of 14 and 17. But these are not children’s crimes. They are holding people up at gunpoint. If they go undeterred at this age, their criminal careers will only deteriorate with age.

But fear not. These are not the sorts of juvenile “criminals” the police are interested in. The NYPD is now enforcing vaccine passports on little boys in restaurants. Once again, we must ask, what is the purpose of the big-city police if the only thing they succeed at is enforcing immoral and inhumane edicts of tyrannical mayors? The only thing worse than abolishing the police is abolishing prison, appointing liberal judges, and electing pro-criminal district attorneys who neuter all the positive work police do in affecting an arrest. For in that case, police can only become a liability to serve as a conduit for tyranny rather than an indispensable tool for ordered liberty.
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