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"Nonviolent" Offender

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"Documents show that a suspect in the Chicago murders of three members of Jennifer Hudson's family was arrested for drug possession in June, but state officials didn't revoke his parole," reports John O'Connor for AP.

At this point, of course, William Balfour is only a suspect and has not been charged with, much less convicted of, the murders of three people, including a 7-year-old boy. So, we will not jump to the conclusion that this case illustrates that the "nonviolent offenders" that the hand-wringing crowd assures us can be safely released includes people who will commit some horrible crimes if they are released. It may very well turn out to illustrate exactly that at some point in the future, and we will keep an eye on it.

Update: A later, more detailed story (at the same link) discloses that Balfour's original offense of conviction was indeed violent -- attempted murder and carjacking -- although the parole violation was drug possession. A new warrant for his arrest issued Saturday alleged "possessing a weapon and failing to attend anger management counseling and a substance abuse program."

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What was Balfour's underlying crime? Isn't that more of the salient issue? Clearly, a violent offender should be subject to a lot more of a stricter parole regime, and people whining about "technical violations" with violent offenders seem to want to roll the dice with our safety.

Someone who has committed attempted murder and carjacking is a dangerous felon. Unless very very extenuating circumstances exist, a parole violation for drug abuse ought to send the criminal right back to the big house. A user of controlled substances has a high risk of not being able to hold down a job, and when a felon who attacks strangers (i.e., a carjacker) doesn't have a job, he's simply far too likely to return to his old ways--preying on innocent members of society. We simply cannot accept these kinds of risks as a society. From all appearances, three people (including a seven year old boy) paid the price for the system's lenience to a person who showed by his own actions that such lenience simply was not deserved.

A paroled violent felon is someone who should be working every day to earn the trust of society that was gracious enough to give him a second chance. If the violent felon shows himself unworthy of that second chance, he should be locked up. This is not a difficult concept, nor is it all that draconian. It simply reflects common sense. Violent felons on parole and on the straight and narrow can be an asset to society--ones that are not should be treated as ticking time bombs. People's lives are at stake. It never ever ceases to amaze me how people who advocate policies that allow for violent felons to violate parole and remain free are considered enlightened or compassionate. Is it compassionate to innocent members of society to have this sort of preventable violence visited on them? I think not.

From all appearances, these victims did not have to die. That's hard to swallow.

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