It was bound to happen, and sooner rather than later. Joel Francisco, dubbed by authorities the crown prince of the Almighty Latin Kings gang, was released from prison thanks to the First Step Act. Now, he is now wanted for murder.
Francisco was sentenced in 2005 to life imprisonment for trafficking in crack cocaine. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced sentences for this crime, but not retroactively.
The First Step Act that President Trump signed into law with broad bipartisan support, included a provision that made the Fair Sentencing Act apply retroactively. As a result, Francisco became eligible for release from prison. He was released in February.
This criminal now stands accused of stabbing a man to death at a hookah lounge in Providence, Rhode Island. According to this report, Providence’s deputy police chief had warned about Francisco’s “propensity for violence.” But the combination of two pieces of leniency for felons legislation — the Fair Sentencing Act and First Step — led to his release anyway.
Supporters of First Step — Sen. Mike Lee, in particular — assured us that the Act would not give early release to anyone, much less anyone with a propensity for violence. This assurance was false, as Sen. Tom Cotton warned at the time, pointing specifically to early release for those convicted of dealing crack cocaine.
Now, it appears that a violent beneficiary of First Step has taken a life.