The “jailbreak” crowd, which includes far too many conservatives, likes to point to Texas as providing powerful evidence for the merit of releasing felons from prison early. Indeed, the usually sensible Sen. John Cornyn of Texas was a leader of the federal push for lenient sentencing. In support of his position, he liked to cite the Texas experience.
That experience didn’t work well this weekend for Houston’s first Sikh officer, Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal. As Daniel Horowitz reports, Dhaliwal was walking back to his patrol car after pulling over Robert Solis for a routine traffic stop, when Solis allegedly got out of his car and shot the policeman to death in an ambush-style attack.
Who is Robert Solis:
Unfortunately, he has the all-too-familiar violent rap sheet that is common on the streets today, yet despite his violent history, he was out on parole. A quick search of Harris County court records shows a 30-year career criminal history that includes burglary, theft, multiple arrests for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, robbery with a deadly weapon, drunk driving, and multiple kidnapping charges.
In 2002, Solis was convicted for shooting a man in the leg and then holding his own toddler son hostage with a gun during a standoff with police. He was sentenced to 20 years, but thanks to Texas’ jailbreak policies, he was let out in 2014 after serving just 12.
Despite extravagent claims about the effectiveness of Texas’ “evidence based” rehabilitation programs, Solis was far from rehabilitated when Texas released him. Nor did our parole system function properly in his case.
In 2016, [Solis] was arrested for DUI, but was not sent back to prison for violating his parole. A year later, a warrant was issued for his arrest after he was caught possessing a gun, but he managed to be a fugitive for two years, eventually resulting in the murder of this hero officer.
A second police officer, Brian Mulkeen of the NYPD, was also shot and killed this weekend. Mulkeen lost his life in a scuffle with Antonio Williams, who should have been in prison.
According to Horowitz:
Williams was originally convicted of burglary in 2011. He was paroled in 2015, but was caught in a drug bust in 2018. However, because of the stigma against locking up drug traffickers, including those with prior felonies, Williams was paroled through 2022.
Williams was caught again in January of this year for larceny in Binghamton, but got off with a $100 fine. He failed to appear in another case in May, according to the New York Daily News.
On August 15, he was arraigned on harassment charges but was released the same day. That case stemmed from a charge of assaulting his girlfriend after she found drugs and a firearm in his closet during a domestic dispute. Thus, he had numerous violations of his parole, but was never sent back to prison.
The cases of Solis and Williams are typical of the lenient treatment dangerous felons enjoy at the state level. According to a report by Rafael Mangual of the Manhattan Institute, only 15 percent of state felony convictions result in more than two years served in prison. Even 20 percent of those imprisoned for murder, and nearly 60 percent of those imprisoned for rape or sexual assault, serve less than five years of their sentences.
Only 15 percent of those serving time in state prison are there for drug crimes, and most of them are repeat offenders with long rap sheets. These criminals serve an average of only 17 months for drug trafficking offenses.
Thus, dangerous felons like Solis and Williams find themselves on the street when they should be in prison. As a result, the lives of law-abiding individuals, including police officers like Dhaliwal and Mulkeen, are needlessly placed in jeopardy.
This is what jailbreak policies and practices look like in practice.