Someone with a gun put an end to Allen Broussard’s auto burglary spree, which San Francisco prosecutors, probation officers, and judges had been incapable of doing, says the San Francisco Chronicle. Broussard, 37, a high school dropout who grew up in housing projects, was arrested at least eight times over the last year and a half, mostly for breaking into cars to get cash to feed a drug habit. Each time, he would be released – within days, weeks or a few months – to resume stealing and breaking into cars.
Until police found him dead Aug. 17 – still clutching a just-stolen car stereo – Broussard’s life exemplified how San Francisco’s pervasive problem of smash-and-grab thieving is fed by its own criminal justice system, which frequently fails to reform or punish offenders. “We see the same individuals out returning to the community and committing the same kind of crime over and over again,” said police Capt. Al Pardini, referring to the use of probation releases in cases of repeat offenders. “Probation should be an opportunity for someone who has made a mistake and wants to get back on the right path – we can’t let it become a way of life.” Said a prosecutor: “We can’t force the court to send somebody to state prison,” noting that the prosecution asked for such a sentence for Broussard. Though Ross suggests judicial leniency is to blame for Broussard’s repeated journeys through the revolving door of justice, prosecutors and probation officers played a significant role, too.