JASON RANTZ

Rantz: After coronavirus riot, Inslee rewards inmates with release plans

Apr 12, 2020, 8:13 PM | Updated: Apr 13, 2020, 1:02 pm

coronavirus riot...

Last week, prisoners participated in a coronavirus riot at the Monroe Correctional Complex. (Photo: Department of Corrections Twitter)

(Photo: Department of Corrections Twitter)

After the coronavirus riot at the Monroe Correctional Complex, Gov. Jay Inslee almost immediately announced he’ll consider releasing some inmates. This is the worst possible response to a riot one could imagine, signaling if you riot, you’ll get your way.

And still, activists want more.

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Coronavirus riot in Monroe

Last Wednesday, roughly 100 prisoners demonstrated. Concerned with the dangers of coronavirus in the complex, inmates chose to ignore social distancing guidelines in the recreation yard to “protest.” When correctional officers ordered them to disperse, they refused.

Officers used pepper spray and sting balls, but it didn’t earn complete compliance. Inmates threatened them and set off fire extinguishers in the Minimum Security Unit before the riot was finally quelled.

“It is believed at this time that the incident was caused by recent positive test results of COVID-19 among six men within the Minimum Security Unit,” according to a statement by the Department of Corrections.

The very next day, Inslee declared he would look to release certain inmates.

“I think public safety calls for that and we’re looking for reasonable things to do for some nonviolent offenders,” Inslee said.

How will the release of prisoners due to coronavirus impact public safety?

Progressives pounce on coronavirus riot

Progressive activists generally decry the judicial system.

In their myopic view, almost all prisoners are victims of a racist, oppressive judicial system disproportionately targeting people of color. They routinely paint all cops, juries, and judges as racist. It’s rarely the prisoner who is at fault for their crimes.

When progressive activists acknowledge a crime was committed, instead of prison, they promote restorative justice. Part of this policy means the criminal isn’t wholly to blame for their crime. As extremist Seattle Mayoral loser Nikkita Oliver noted on Crosscut:

A key part of this approach is accountability — not just on the part of those who caused the most recent harm, but anyone who may have contributed to the events that led to that harm. This often requires whole communities to participate in the remedy and healing process to restore us all back to a trusting relationship with each other.

The thief, drug dealer, rapist, or even murderer isn’t solely to blame. We should talk it out as a community and keep them out of jail. As Oliver notes, “Prisons are a public safety issue.” The coronavirus riot wasn’t a riot at all. It was merely a protest, she says.

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The worst takes

Sensing an opportunity to forward their extremist agenda, activists jumped on the Monroe coronavirus riot.

“This unfortunate, but completely foreseeable, situation is a direct result of the failure of DOC to take action sooner, even though people who are incarcerated in state prisons, their family members, and advocates have sounded the alarm for weeks,” attorney Nick Straley of Columbia Legal Services told the Tacoma News Tribune.

On Twitter, Socialist Seattle City Councilwoman Tammy Morales said she stands in solidarity with the Monroe prisoners and “have requested a release of loved ones in our jails & more humane conditions.”

Also on Twitter, Oliver claimed that the “conditions our loved ones are being caged in are inhumane and brutal prior to Covid.” She argues release all prisoners, otherwise it’s “cruel ans [sic] unusual punishment now.” Oliver is a lawyer.

It’s worth noting that at this “inhumane and brutal” minimum security facility, prisoners are offered a number of work and vocational programs, free education services, seminars on starting a small business, family events, and substance abuse treatment. Sounds like a real hell hole.

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The Inslee gift to inmates

Inslee is rewarding inmates for a riot. This is dangerous optics.

Inmates were refusing to abide by quarantine restrictions, then they got mad about it. It’s not so much that they’re concerned with the coronavirus, it’s that they likely see an opening to exploit for leniency. Vulnerable inmates were offered to be moved to more isolated parts of the prison, but they all declined.

And I wouldn’t put it past activists to even help give them tips on how to agitate or keep themselves in situations that could make their plea of early release more tenable.

But a riot — and threats towards staff — shouldn’t be rewarded with leniency. Indeed, it’s the exact behavior to warrant keeping them incarcerated for their crimes.

“Generally, we’re looking at nonviolent offenders who are nearing their appropriate release date, who because of age or health conditions, have a higher risk of potentially contracting the disease and having a fatal result,” Inslee said at a news conference.

Generally, though not exclusively.

Inslee is a prisoner to his ideology. He will placate the extremist activists. He’s actively exploiting this crisis for a political agenda, not for concern over public safety. Now we have a situation in Washington where not only, in some counties, are we not booking most misdemeanors into jails, but we’re releasing criminals early and telling gun shops that they have to close down. Sounds like a safe plan.

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