Newspaper Warns Against “Backlash” From Clemmons Case


The ambush and killing of four police officers near Seattle is exceptionally troubling – emphasis on exceptionally, editorializes the Christian Science Monitor. After reviewing the case’s tragic history, the newspaper says cautions that, “High-profile crimes have a tendency to rank emotion over reason when it comes to the criminal justice system.”

California’s 1993 Polly Klaas kidnapping, for example, was a catalyst for the state’s “three strikes” law, the nation’s toughest for repeat offenders that has helped swell the state’s prison population to near twice the capacity. The risk of a case such as Maurice Clemmons’s is that it will bring a backlash leading to a wrong policy, says the Monitor, “That it will continue to discourage clemency, for instance, or that it will somehow slow the momentum toward reform.” Officials are likely to find flaws in the handling of Clemmons that should be corrected, but they should be careful about drawing broad conclusions from an exceptional case, the newspaper concludes.

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