The real world consequences of releasing felons early

During the debate over the First Step Act, conservatives favoring lenient treatment for felons liked to point to Texas where, supposedly, enlightened programs were rehabilitating criminals with remarkable success. These “evidence-based” programs were cited to justify shorter sentences for, and the early release of, federal felons who took various courses while incarcerated. The usually sensible Sen. John Cornyn helped lead this charge, as did Heritage Foundation.

No disrespect to Texas, but in fact it has not succeeded where reformers dating back to the time of Jeremy Bentham failed. Properly analyzed, the statistics don’t demonstrate substantial success for its “evidence-based” rehabilitation programs.

Nor will the friends and family of Jenny and Bao Lam be impressed by Texas’ ability to rehabilitate felons. Bill Otis directs our attention to this report:

Jenny and Bao Lam, both 61, were living the American dream. They immigrated to the United States with nothing, worked hard, sacrificed, and ended up becoming a Subway franchisee with six restaurants in the Houston area. They had two children, a son and a daughter, and both eventually went on to attend affluent colleges. The son became a captain in the United States Air Force.

On January 11, 2018, Thursday night, Jenny and Bao Lam returned to their Northgate Country Club gated community home and were ambushed as they parked their car into the garage by Erick Alfredo Peralta, 20, half-brothers Aakeil Ricardo Kendrick, 21, and Khari Ty Kendrick, 23.

Houston police believed and later proven right—the couple was targeted because they were Asian. African-American youths have been targeting the Asian community for several years from Los Angeles, Houston to New York and across the Atlantic to London and Paris. . .

Jenny and Bao were tied up and beaten for information. Once the murderers obtained the safe combination from the couple; they were both shot in the head, execution-style.

At least one of the perpetrators is a “graduate” of the Texas prison system and, presumably, some of its “evidence-based” rehabilitation courses:

Khari Kendrick was. . .supposed to be sentenced to 30 years in prison for a string of 20 burglaries. . . but he was freed after serving only three years by the state parole commission in an attempt to help reform African-American youths. . . as demand[ed] by Black Lives Matter-backed coalitions.

The Lams aren’t the only Texans murdered by an alum of Texas prisons who was released early. Houston’s first Sikh police officer, Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, was gunned down by Robert Solis when he pulled Solis over for a routine traffic stop.

Solis had 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, was let out in 2014 after serving just 12.

As difficult as it may be to believe, Texas’ “evidence-based” rehabilitation programs didn’t reform Solis. Deputy Dhaliwal paid the price.

These are the real world consequences of jailbreak policies in Texas and elsewhere. The U.S. has a serious under-incarceration problem and, with the complicity of some conservatives, the problem is getting worse.

UPDATE: Here, via Daniel Horowitz, is another appalling example of our under-incarceration problem. It’s from Florida.

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