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4 Police Officers shot dead-Man should still be in prison

November 30th, 2009

Maurice Clemmons allegedly walked up to four officers and executed them while they finished their reports from the day prior at a Washington Coffee shop.  Tragic and senseless killings that could have been avoided.  19 years ago Clemmons’ sentence was reduced from 60 years down to time served.  The Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, felt that Clemmons’ sentence was too heavy for someone who was 18 years old, even though the judge in the case had stated in his sentencing report that Clemmons was a habitual criminal, and was a menace to society.  Clemmons has an extensive criminal record that included sex offenses, burglaries, possession of firearms, and assault on a Peace Officer; yet on this fateful day, he was a free man.  We failed those four officers and their families as a system, and now nationwide, we stand to do it again.

As our budgets tighten, many departments are considering releasing inmates early to make room.  This inexcusable practice will set free thousands of criminals and turn them loose on our streets.  With police departments also strained, chances are they will be overwhelmed by the influx, and will be unable to keep up with the tide of new crimes.

The defense is that many of these criminals are not violent offenders, however, as many of us know, many inmates that have come to prison for “non-violent” offenses, show their true face in prison.  How many times haven’t we seen these low level offenders commit horrid crimes against other inmates or staff while incarcerated?  Keeping them locked up gives us the opportunity to evaluate every inmate.  Evaluate whether they are truly people who have made a single mistake, or criminals who have just begun their life of crime.  When they are released, we can watch them closer if we feel there is a reason.  The new release programs do not allow for this.  In fact, many of them reduce the parole supervision to close to nothing at all, because those programs are cut also.

I doubt that when a judge sentences a crook to prison he does so knowing that the crook will be released early.  I have never heard a judge sentence a person to 20 years in prison, or until the money runs out.  As a community of professional law enforcement officers, we need to take the time to stand up against these early releases.  We cannot put our brothers and sisters on the street in danger because of budget cuts.  Lets start to evaluate how our money is being spent in prison, and begin to cut out the programs that aim to cater to inmates.  Let’s make prison just that, prison.  There is no greater rehabilitation than the threat of returning to a real prison.  There is no rehabilitation in knowing that if you re-offend, you will be given college courses, trade school, television, great medical care and 3 nice hot meals.  It is time for us to take our prisons back. 

Nothing we do can bring these officers home for Christmas or even their kids next birthday.  But we can now take notice and recognize that we cannot allow our public officials to over ride our criminal justice system.  I am taking this vow, that I will do everything I can to prevent any releases like this.  Whether it is call my legislator, write my director of corrections, or even descend on our capital carrying a sign, screaming at the top of my lungs.  This was truly a tragedy, and my heart is broken for those families.  If you feel the same, post your thoughts here.  It’s cliche, but it applies “United we stand, divided we fail!”

Take care of yourselves, watch your back, and vest up!

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