I see we’re still operating under the old adage of never allowing a perfectly good crisis go to waste. In Massachusetts, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D) of “Squad” fame, easily cruised to reelection last week. Given the lopsided nature of her district, this came as a surprise to no one. Upon finishing her victory lap, she decided to berate the state’s Republican governor on a subject near and dear to the hearts of socialists across the nation. She wants Charlie Baker to order the release of even more prisoners from the state’s jails and prisons. Why? Because of COVID, of course. That’s apparently the only reason we do anything anymore. (CBS Boston)
Fresh off her reelection win, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is calling on Governor Charlie Baker to release more prison inmates at high risk of Covid-19.
In the past month, more than 300 inmates and staff at Massachusetts prisons and jails have tested positive for the virus. Pressley said it’s a public health threat.
“With the stroke of a pen, Governor Baker can release incarcerated individuals across our commonwealth who pose no risk to their communities, but are at great risk themselves of contracting and suffering from Covid-19,” Pressley said.
Pressley’s claims about releasing “incarcerated individuals who pose no risk” sounds good on paper, but the reality is far different. As a spokesperson for the Governor noted in his response, Massachusetts has already paroled and released hundreds of prisoners who were convicted of nonviolent crimes well ahead of schedule. They’ve already reached the point where the majority of people still behind bars are there for serious, violent offenses and/or pose a significant risk of recidivism.
The records of these releases show that the state has probably already released too many people and erred on the side of forgiveness. Activists working with the Massachusetts Bail Fund have already finagled the release of hundreds of people by paying their bail for them. This effort was originally portrayed as a plan to bail out “peaceful protesters” who had allegedly been locked up for nothing more than exercising their free speech rights. But that wasn’t true at all.
They wound up bailing out Joel Rodriguez, who had a rap sheeting including assault and domestic abuse charges. They sprang Karmau Cotton-Landers, who was behind bars on charges of shooting someone in broad daylight on Boston Common. Darren McFadden was similarly cut loose after he’d been caught looting during one of the George Floyd riots. He’d already had 60 previous arrests and convictions, including a three-year stretch for armed robbery. And the list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Otis Walker, who was put back out on the streets while awaiting trial on three counts of child rape.
The pandemic was also used as the excuse to free Barbara Goucher from prison earlier this year. She only stabbed a woman who had been trying to turn her mess of a life around 108 times before suffocating her. But thanks to the exploitation of the coronavirus and the empty the jails movement, she’s now free as a bird, well ahead of schedule.
What we’re seeing here is yet more opportunism being foisted off in the name of the pandemic. So is that what the newly re-elected congresswoman is looking to do? She can keep harping on all she likes about America being an “incarceration nation,” but the reality is that most of these people need to be behind bars. They’re there for a reason. And dumping them back out onto the streets so they can blend in with the rest of the rioters and looters isn’t helping make any of her constituents safer.
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