Our under-incarceration problem, Omaha edition

Christopher Gradoville, age 37, was the director of baseball operations at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. As a Creighton student-athlete, he was a baseball star. Gradoville finished his Creighton career with a .327 batting average, 22 home runs, and 136 RBIs, in 183 games including 153 as a starter.

Our Omaha friend Dave Begley tells me that Gradoville and his wife were expecting their first child.

Last week, Gradoville was shot dead in front of a house he had just flipped. He had gone to the house to take care of a repair he promised to make. He died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Omaha police arrested Ladell Thornton, age 43, for the murder. Reportedly, Thornton made incriminating statements following his arrest.

Thornton has an “extensive criminal record.” That record includes convictions for negligent child abuse and theft. Most recently, he was charged with assault by strangulation or suffocation. Thornton was released on bail in late July.

I’m hard pressed to understand why a man with an extensive criminal record who is arrested for strangulation/suffocation should be released from jail. Thornton was a menace to society and an obvious threat to public safety.

Accordingly, he should have remained incarcerated until his trial. If I find more information about why he didn’t, I’ll pass it along in another post.

Cold-blooded murderers don’t emerge randomly. Normally, they do society the “favor” of demonstrating their violent tendencies through prior acts of violence. Assault by strangulation or suffocation is such an act.

Unfortunately, American society is no longer willing to take advantage of the information potential murderers provide by holding violent criminals pending trial, giving them stiff sentences if convicted, and requiring that they serve them. Instead, we allow criminals like Thornton back on the streets, free to commit future assaults up to and including murder.

This is the essence of America’s under-incarceration problem. I have been documenting it for years.

These days, thanks to a wave of prosecutors who sympathize strongly with criminals and dislike those who try to enforce the law, the problem seems to be getting even worse.

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