Sunday, February 7, 2010

Early Release

The 3rd guiding criminal justice principle of the Lampstand Foundation is:

3) Prison is the most appropriate criminal sanction to protect society and punish the criminal, while allowing the opportunity for criminal reformation.

Prison is an effective sanction for crime which has been used by human beings since ancient times. It serves to protect the public from predatory crime, acts as a deterrence and as incapacitation, and allows the penitential criminal the opportunity--while removed from the community--to reflect upon and correct his criminal behavior.

Early release violates this principle fundamentally, by interfering with the appropriate juridical decision to separate the criminal, for a specific length of time, from the public upon which he has preyed.

As this article from the Sacramento Bee indicates, the results—while not always so—can sometimes be very bad, and the point of incapacitation is to reduce the possibility of sometimes.

An excerpt.

“It was probably just a matter of time. But less than one day?

“Sacramento sheriff's officials say that's how long it took for an inmate who was set free Monday under an early-release plan to be arrested again, this time on a charge of attempted rape.

“The incident prompted immediate outrage from groups opposed to the new state law aimed at reducing prison populations by gradually releasing nonviolent, low-level offenders who earn extra credits for participating in educational and other programs.

"Our greatest fear has occurred almost immediately after the early release of these inmates," said Christine Ward of the Crime Victims Action Alliance.

“But the arrest of Kevin Eugene Peterson less than a day after he was cut loose from the Sacramento County jail also sparked questions over whether counties releasing jail inmates since the law took effect Jan. 25 are interpreting the law correctly.

“It all began Monday evening, when the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department began releasing hundreds of inmates early from the county's jails.

“The state says it has not released any inmates under the new law, which is designed to take effect gradually and only after intense review of each prisoner.

“But Sacramento and other counties have decided the new law allows them to apply good-time credits to inmates retroactively, which led to the release of Peterson 16 days early Monday.

“Peterson was rearrested at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, when police say he attempted to assault a woman in the 1300 block of North C Street.

“He was booked into the Sacramento County jail at 3:21 p.m. Tuesday on charges of attempted rape, sexual battery, false imprisonment and violating the terms of his probation, records show.”