With one month left in office, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that she is commuting the death sentences of all seventeen murderers on the state’s death row to life without the possibility of parole. CBS News reports that Brown, who has earned a reputation for issuing executive orders without legislative or public input, told reporters “I have long believed that justice is not advanced by taking a life…” In 1978 and again in 1984, Oregon voters reinstated the death penalty for the state’s worst murderers but the democrat-controlled government has not allowed an execution since 1997. Brown is not the only governor who substituted her views on the death penalty for those of the people she is supposed to represent. In 2019, newly-elected California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a reprieve for the murderers on that state’s death row, and dismantled the execution chamber. He is currently shipping the state’s worst murderers out of death row to other prisons with more pleasant living conditions.
Author: Michael Rushford
The state of Mississippi is set to execute Thomas Edwin Loden Jr. on Wednesday, December 14 for the 2000 kidnap, rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl. The Associated Press reports on a judge’s ruling allowing the state to move forward with Loden’s execution despite his pending lawsuit challenging the state’s three-drug protocol. As detailed in a 2013 federal District Court decision denying Loden’s claims on habeas corpus; on the evening of June 22, 2020 witnesses saw Lodin flirting with sixteen-year-old Leesa Marie Gray while she was working in her family’s restaurant in Dorsey, Mississippi. At about 10:30 PM Lodin spotted Ms. Gray’s car on the side of a rural road with a flat tire. Initially, he offered to help her, but eventually forced her into this van and drove to his grandmother’s remote farm. “Over the course of the next few hours, he raped her numerous times and battered her sexually, videotaping portions of the abuse, before suffocating and strangling her to death inside of the van. He then pushed her nude, bound body under a fold-out seat in his van, went inside his grandmother’s house, and fell asleep.” UPDATE: Loden was pronounced dead at 6:12 PM Thursday.
In an effort to protect them from deportation, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon has announced a policy that requires prosecutors to drop or reduce the charges against offenders in the country illegally. Louis Casiano and Bill Melugin of Fox News report that the new directive requires deputy DAs to make their charging decisions based upon whether or not they would effect the possibility an offender being deported, including aliens legally in the country. As a sanctuary state, California law prohibits local police from cooperating with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities regarding illegals, but ICE can still track down and arrest offenders who have been convicted of serious or violent crimes, without help from local police. In many cases the new policy will result in dropping gun and gang enhancements which could trigger deportation. This policy creates two classes of criminals in Los Angeles; legal and illegal alien criminals who will be undercharged or diverted to avoid deportation, and U.S. citizens who break the law and face the full consequences for their crimes. While the policy is almost certainly unconstitutional, it demonstrates how little regard for public safety or equity Gascon and his supporters have.
An investigative report by Josh Boswell of the Daily Mail discovered that thousands of sex offenders are being release from California prisons and jails after serving only a fraction of their sentences. Using the search function in the state’s Megan’s Law database, which tracks sex offenders in the state, Boswell found that over the past several years over 7,000 offenders convicted of molesting children under 14-years-old spent less than a year behind bars. This does not include 365 pedophiles convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a child, who were also released after less than a year. The article lists multiple offenders who spend just a few days in jail after conviction. On example is Gualterio Lopez Contreras, who was convicted of lewd and lascivious acts on a child, for continuous sexual abuse including sodomy by force. He was sentenced to three years in prison, and walked free after less than a year.
A Missouri felon, who executed a St. Louis police officer in 2005, was put to death by lethal injection yesterday. Jim Salter of the Associated Press reports that the state Supreme Court had twice denied to stay Kevin Johnson’s execution and the Governor refused to grant him clemency. Johnson was on probation for beating his girlfriend when on July 5 police officers, including Sergent William McEntee, came to his house to investigate the ownership of a vehicle he allegedly possessed. As officers approached the house Johnson told his 12-year-old brother to run next door to his grandmother’s home. Facts presented in the Missouri Supreme Court’s 2013 decision denying habeas corpus relief indicate that once the brother, who had congenital hear disease, got next door he had a seizure and died later in the hospital. While officers attended to the boy and called an ambulance, McEntee kept the grandmother from entering the house. The officers eventually left the neighborhood, but hours later Sergent McEntee returned to investigate a report of illegal fireworks. As he was in his patrol car talking to some teens, Johnson approached saying. “you killed my brother’ and shot McEntee five times.
A review of the post-mortems from the November 8th midterm elections indicate that many were surprised by the outcome. Most polls got it wrong. The wailing by liberal pundits in the weeks prior to the election suggested that they were afraid voters were ready to put Republicans in charge of Congress and many state houses in response to inflation, crime, immigration and general dissatisfaction with the direction of the country under Democrat management. With the exception of a handful of contests, this did not happen. I was among those who felt that the issue of crime, in particular, was going to induce voters to cross political lines to pic candidates pledging to stop the violence, theft and squalor that currently defines many parts of America. Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald evaluates the voters response to crime with this piece in the City Journal.
The Washington DC City Council has unanimously passed a bill rewriting the district’s 100-year-old criminal code, as reported by Matt Pusatory and Jess Arnold of CBS News. Supporters said that the change was “long overdue.” Among the revisions will be the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences and enactment of early sentence review, for offenders sentenced under previous law. The bill would also reclassify all crimes, for example; distinguishing robbery from armed robbery. It also gives the right to a jury trial to misdemeanor defendants. This would overwhelm the district’s court system, putting pressure on prosecutors and judges to plea bargain. Commenting on the elimination of mandatory minimums, Councilmember Charles Allen, the head of panel which adopted the bill said, “In regards to mandatory minimums….they frequently just tie the hands of judges and juries, and treat all victims as if they were the same.” Apparently Mr. Allen believes that convicted criminals are victims. It is not clear that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has been criticized for DC’s 18-year high in homicides and other violent crimes, will sign a bill reducing sentences. The problem Bowser faces was highlighted hours before the bill passed last Tuesday, as ex-con Kelvin Blowe, who advocated for the shorter sentences, was fatally shot on his way home from work, as reported by Fox News.
The Pennsylvania House has voted 107-85 to impeach Soros-bankrolled Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. With Krasner running the District Attorney’s office, homicides, violent crime and carjackings have reached historic levels, exceeding those of much larger cities including New York and Los Angeles. The Washington Post reports that the impeachment now moves to a trial in the state Senate. Krasner, a progressive reformer who brags about fewer arrests and convictions on his website, responded to the impeachment saying, “it shows how far toward fascism the Republican party is creeping.” Both the PA House and Senate have Republican majorities.
With the election of liberal congressperson Karen Bass as Mayor, and the replacement of LA County Sheriff Alex Villaneuva with former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, Los Angeles voters have made a clear choice to reject any aggressive effort to reduce the crime and violence which plagues the city. Sheriff Vilaneuva’s tough-on-crime approach will be replaced by Sheriff Luna’s promise to investigate his own department and develop a “more collegial” relationship with pro-criminal District Attorney George Gascon. During the campaign, mayoral candidate Rick Caruso promised to add 1,500 officers to the police force, restore the Crash Unit that targets high crime areas, crack down on gun traffickers, and push for reform or repeal of Proposition 47. He set a goal of taking 30,000 homeless off the streets in the first year, clearing out parks, beaches and sidewalks. He pledged to build and repurpose properties to create shelter space at half of LA’s current $700,000 per bed housing cost. He has also pledged to expand mental health and drug addiction services to get the 67% of LA homeless who are mentally ill or addicted to drugs into care.
Responding to MSNBC interviewer’s statement that New York City residents “don’t feel safe in this town,” and are “worried we could become San Francisco,” the state’s newly-elected Governor Kathy Hochul said NYC “will never be San Francisco.” Mallory Monench of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Hochul went on to say that the Big Apple was successfully fighting crime, with homicides and shootings down dramatically from last year. While the two cities have vastly different populations, on overall crime they are generally comparable. Homicides are tracking down 14% in New York City compared to last year while they are up in San Francisco by .43%. But NYC saw dramatic increases in 2020 and 2021, while San Francisco homicides increased only slightly. Both cities have unacceptable rates of violent crime. When it comes to property crime Hochul is correct about San Francisco. The numbers for 2020 show almost three times the rate of property crimes in San Francisco than in New York. The reporter admits something that most of the media and liberal think tanks ignore, “The number is almost certainly higher in reality since many people don’t report property crime to the police because of the perception that doing so won’t make a difference.”