Rantz: Activists demand we release murderers in coronavirus prisoner plan

Apr 19, 2020, 9:28 PM | Updated: Apr 20, 2020, 5:57 am
coronavirus prisoner release...
After Governor Jay Inslee announced his coronavirus prisoner release plan, Seattle-area activists decided they wanted more. They want everyone out of jail. (AP)

After Governor Jay Inslee announced his coronavirus prisoner release plan, Seattle-area activists decided they wanted more. They want everyone out of jail.

Inslee identified the over 1,100 Washington criminals he will release, due to concerns that crowded jails could easily spread the coronavirus. While they’re supposedly non-violent offenders, the criminals include prolific DUI criminals, burglars, and drug dealers. But activists remain unhappy.

Using the hashtag #FreeThemAllWA, some fringe activists are now urging the governor to free literally all prisoners, including murderers and rapists. Sure, that could protect them from the coronavirus in prison. But who will protect the public from the prisoners?

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Coronavirus prisoner release is dangerous

Many in the law enforcement community have raised concerns with the coronavirus prisoner release plan. The proposal was unveiled the day after prisoners at the Monroe Correctional Complex rioted over COVID-19 concerns. There are physical distancing programs in place, but the inmates seem to refuse to follow them. The message Inslee’s proposal sent was you’ll get rewarded for rioting and ignoring physical distancing demands.

“We have firsthand interactions with these criminals on a daily basis. Why weren’t we consulted?” asks Seattle Police Officer’s Guild President Officer Mike Solan to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

The coronavirus prisoner release plan comes as most misdemeanor suspects aren’t being booked into jail, which keeps even more criminals on the streets. Not only does that put the community at risk, but it makes an officer’s job more dangerous.

Activists grow louder

The region’s most extreme activists have taken the opportunity to exploit the coronavirus prisoner crisis to help free even more criminals. To them, Inslee’s plan doesn’t go far enough.

Failed Seattle mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver has called on Inslee to #FreeThemAllWA because “The pandemic doesn’t discriminate by sentencing offense and neither should Inslee.”

Knowing that their plan would release the most dangerous criminals, some activists have downplayed concerns claiming they represent a small part of the prisoner population. In other words, it’s just a few murderers and rapists, so what’s all the fuss about?

A handful of activists held a “car noise demonstration” in Monroe and Olympia last week. And while Inslee panned pro-Trump protesters in Michigan and here in Washington, he was silent on the progressives and socialists who protested for a more alarming plan to release murderers.

Not all are as extreme on the issue of release, but the ones that claim they’re taking a reasonable and fiscally responsible approach to the topic seem to lack a plan on dealing with the unintended consequences of the coronavirus prisoner release plan.

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Enter the Socialist candidate for Congress

Truck driver Joshua Collins hopes to replace retiring WA-10 Congressman Denny Heck. He’s a Socialist, earned the endorsement of Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant, and is decidedly anti-Joe Biden, whom he calls a “senile old rapist.”

Collins backs the movement to #FreeThemAllWA, but says that it’s mostly “hyperbolic” to him and he doesn’t want to release murderers and rapists.

“The point is that it is more cost effective to put people on house arrest because that’s really what we’re talking about,” Collins told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “They’re not talking about just like, ‘oh, you’re completely, you know, Scot-free from whatever you’ve been convicted of.'”

Collins backs a restorative justice approach to criminal justice. On paper, it means focusing on rehabilitative efforts to get someone to reintegrate into a society where they respect laws. It offers everything from therapy to attacking the root causes of why some people turn to criminality. In it’s non-ideological form, I generally support the idea. But in reality, activists use the practice to shift the blame almost entirely away from the victim, claiming they’re not at fault for an assault, drug dealing, or stealing cars.

OK, let’s see how this would work

To better understand the thinking, I asked Collins why, for example, should a prolific car thief be released from jail.

“Do you think a car thief is a threat to the public?” Collins asked me.

I said yes, he’s a threat to the people he steals cars from — folks who depend on their car to get to their job or to pick up their kids from soccer practice.

“If you stole a car and you didn’t kill anyone, you didn’t assault anyone, you know, that’s not a violent crime,” Collins told me. “That’s something that we would like you to not do again. But it is also something that, you know is not a danger to the public. That person can be very easily rehabilitated or we could have a system where we have right now where almost everyone who goes in prisons, comes out worse off and I think it’s pretty obvious what we should be doing.”

Car thieves, and property offenders in general, have an exceptionally high recidivism rate. So simply claiming they can be “very easily rehabilitated” is just wishful thinking. I asked how, specifically, would you deal with prolific offenders short of prison.

“Um, I don’t I don’t know what the plan is for that? I’m not really sure,” he explained.

They don’t know. It’s why this is dangerous

I can definitely appreciate Collins’ honesty and we could use more politicians who acknowledge they don’t have some answers. But it’s the problem inherent in any purely ideological position, regardless of the ideology. You end up seeing a position with massive blinders on.

Socialism says jailing is bad because it’s racist. And we shouldn’t give money to for-profit prisons, anyway! Okay. So what do we do with criminals. Restorative justice! Okay, what if it doesn’t work? They don’t have an answer. They don’t even know if restorative justice will work the way they want it to.

What we do know is that when you don’t punish prolific offenders — like some of the criminals Inslee will release from prison and the ones King County law enforcement aren’t able to book — they reoffend.

“When we try to book them into jail, those individuals aren’t held accountable for their actions, and who ends up suffering? It’s the community at large. It’s the police officers who are a part of this community who end up taking the brunt and criticism of this because, ‘hey, there’s not enough cops out there,'” Officer Solan explained.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or on Facebook.

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Rantz: Activists demand we release murderers in coronavirus prisoner plan