Detroit Chief Says COVID-19 Jail Releases Boost Crime

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When a judge in Detroit’s Wayne County announced eight months ago that he would begin releasing jail inmates in response to the coronavirus outbreak, he said people accused of violent crimes likely would stay behind bars. Concerns about the virus have prompted Judge Timothy Kenny to free at least 35 inmates who were accused or convicted of violent crimes, the Detroit News reports. Among those released: four men convicted of sexual assault, and 14 others convicted of assault. One sex offender is back in jail after prosecutors say he got out and raped three women at knifepoint.

In March, Kenny said he didn’t plan to release anyone accused of committing violent crimes. Between March and September, records show he freed at least seven inmates who were convicted of domestic violence and were either serving out their sentences in the jail or awaiting transport to prison. Kenny released a man after he’d pleaded guilty to domestic violence and assaulting a pregnant woman while he was on probation for an assault. Detroit Police Chief James Craig said the release of violent criminals likely is contributing to a significant spike in homicides and shootings. “This isn’t just happening in Detroit,” he said. “Cities across the country have seen violent crime go up. It’s not rocket science — when you let violent criminals out of jail, you run the risk of having more violent crime. If anyone thinks releasing these violent offenders back into the community isn’t having an effect on crime, they’re sorely mistaken.” This year, Detroit’s homicides have increased by 20 percent; nonfatal shootings are up 50 percent. Detroit Justice Center was one of several organizations suing Wayne County to get inmates released to avoid COVID-19. “This is a deadly, contagious virus, and nobody deserves to die just because they’re locked up,” said the group’s Casey Rocheteau.

One thought on “Detroit Chief Says COVID-19 Jail Releases Boost Crime

  1. Knowing that one man on the sex offense registry was released and then raped three women at knife is horrible.

    Just as horrible, though, are the lives ruined for people who have committed a one-time-only sex offense, with some being 20 to 30 years ago or longer. All research is showing a re-offense rate (committing another sex crime) of 24% over a lifetime, when all registrants are taken collectively. This rate is after being caught and serving time in prison. Other crimes, with the exception of murder, have re-offense rates ranging from 60 to 80%.

    The registry is continued, lifetime punishment as there are many places registrants cannot live or work, cannot attend school functions with children or grandchildren, often are not permitted to attend churches, cannot be present in many places, can be sent to prison for years for registering one day late, suffer at the hands of vigilantes whether it is mental or physical, and the list goes on and on. All of this is appropriate for repeat offenders but not for the hundreds of thousands of registrants in this country who are living law-abiding lives now.

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