What Has Been Happening?

On Friday, July 19, 2019, a group of inmates will be coming home. According to Justice officials, the majority of the inmates have done terrible things in their lifetime, including drug offenses, weapons/explosive convictions, and sex offenses. Under the First Step Act, the inmates are given a second chance to redeem themselves and their actions. The First Step Act was put in place as a solution to decrease the expense and overcrowding issues in prison. Even after the First Step Act was passed, there has been a controversy as to whether these prisoners should be allowed to be released from their jail cells. The problem is that the First Step Act does not account for public safety and creates more victims by freeing inmates while trivializing the seriousness of committing a crime.


Will They Have Changed?

One of the questions that is asked as soon as the inmates return home is “Will they endanger other people or have they changed into a better person?” Unfortunately, statistics show that just because someone has gone to prison, it does not mean that they will be good afterward. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that “About 68 percent of 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 were arrested for a new crime within three years of their release from prison, and 77 percent were arrested within five years”. Although the minority of the 405,000 prisoners will indeed recover and create no future problem to society, it is important to consider the wellbeing of everyday citizens if the dangerous majority are released.


Real Life Example

There are inmates who recover from their criminal way after they left prison, but there are also inmates who do not. One example would be the notorious double killer, Paul Brumfitt. In 1980, Brumfitt was convicted for killing a shopkeeper in England and straggling a Bus Driver in Denmark. Despite his fourteen years in prison, Brumfitt was convicted of murdering a teenage prostitute after his release in 1994. It is also reported that Brumfitt raped another prostitute at knifepoint. This tragedy is the result of releasing only one prisoner. With the release of three thousand prisoners, the First Step Act bodes a major concern to public safety.


More Victims in the Future

Assume that out of the 3100 inmates, the majority will cause no harm and help the society. At the same time, there is the possibility that a small percentage of the inmates could cause future harm to society. Ironically, the small percentage (say 10%) in this case could be around 300 criminals. In consideration, there could be innocent civilians affected by the 300 future criminals. More people may be harmed by the 300 criminals as well as suffer future problems like retaliation if they are not captured. One example would be Robert Letourneau, an ex-inmate accused of attempted murder on a complainant. During his time in the Country Harris jail, it was found that Letourneau allegedly solicited inmates there into his plan to kill his ex-girlfriend. Letourneau planned to kill his ex-girlfriend so she will not be able to testify on his charge of kidnapping and aggravated robbery. In this case, the First Step Act would create more victims.


Trivializing the Crime

To further incite the situation, money is being spent on this solution; 75 million dollars are poured into releasing guilty men into society as the Justice Officials believe that prisons are not good enough for redemption. Even worse, the inmates committed the crime but they do not have to complete all of the time. At the same time, the First Step Act will get people to think that going into prison is not that bad since there is a good chance you will walk out early, much earlier than you could ever think. Once again, releasing 3100 prisoners may not be a good thing as it will harm our society and reduce public safety.


Potential Solution

In response to the First Step Act, there is not much that can be done about the act since it was already passed. Revising the First Step Act could take years and the 3100 prisoners have already been released. However, it is possible to mitigate the problem by heavily monitoring the prisoners. Keeping a close watch on the freed inmates will help ensure that there will be no future victims. Such a process is difficult and requires additional approval for more funds. However, the safety of the public outweighs money.

[Image Attribute: Chris Sansenbach]