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The Consequences of Unseriousness, Part III

A little less than two weeks ago, I wrote of the gruesome consequences (the beating death of a toddler) of not taking seriously the killer's prior history of violence toward little children. Today, I see, right on the local D.C. news, yet more consequences of the same deadly complacency. The give-them-a-second-chance crowd never seems to want to get too explicit about what the second chance is for, and the following illustrates why:

A 29 year-old thug, Stephon Prather, shot a policeman in nearby Howard County, Maryland. He was taken into custody today.  Exactly ten paragraphs down into the story, we see this:

Prather has had trouble with the law before. In 2006, he faced a mountain of charges: six counts each of attempted murder, first-degree assault and second-degree assault. That was in addition to charges of use of a handgun in a crime and conspiracy to attempt murder.

The charges stemmed from a dispute between Prather and some family members.

Under a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree assault and and was set to serve five years.

But in late 2007, Prather's sentence was reconsidered. A judge agreed to turn Prather over to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for substance abuse treatment.

Court records show that by early 2009, Prather had been discharged by a nonprofit rehab program, Second Genesis, Inc.

Now is that cool or what?  Mr. Prather goes berserk in 2006, gets a sweet deal from some (fortunately for them) unnamed prosecutors, gets all of five years, then gets "reconsidered" by some (also unnamed) judge, is turned over to a "rehab" program, which promptly releases him because they don't give a good God damn were, I suppose, satisfied with his "progress."

Anyone care to take a guess about how much accountability there will be for the prosecutors, the judge, or the "rehab" people?



There could be a myriad of legitimate reasons for prosecutors to have given Prather "a sweet deal" back in 2006. You have no idea of what legal, evidentiary or proof issues that may have been presented. While I have seen many cases where my colleagues have quite simply dropped the ball out of laziness, apathy, or lack of ability, I have also seen dangerous men who slipped through the system due to evidentiary weaknesses or because of the way it is designed. Some of that design is by unserious people or those who have little care for the practical effect of their decisions. Remember I am in California, and our legislature continues to "design" paralysis by process. They also unilaterally reduce supervision and custody and call it "smart on crime."

I have found it unproductive and often unfair to judge my prosecutorial colleagues without full information as to what drove their decision. That being said, some genuine supervision and sunshine into those decisions needs to be done, and before the defendant is enabled to offend again. My view is if you cannot defend what you have done in front of a camera (assuming an intellectually honest audience), then you need to reassess what you are doing, even if no one is looking.

Maybe the prosecutors' names should be published, but before they are called out as "unserious" they should be given a chance to explain themselves. I know you are the intellectually honest, and you will listen.

Perhaps irrelevant to the discussion, but to give you a sense of who I am, I am a DDA in a California county for the last 15 years and have and continue to try murder cases. You will have to trust me when I say I am not the type of prosecutor who lifts the cocktail glass at 5 pm on Fridays with the celebratory "elites" who espouse the "smart on crime" silliness that has invaded the CA prosecutorial ranks.

David Boyd --

Excellent points. I was too quick to take a whack at the prosecutors without full information. Results like this tend to get me riled up. I hope the prosecutors did everything they could, and certainly there is ample blame to go around for this mess. I'm happy to tell you that the most recent reports are that the Howard County policeman will make a full recovery.

Thanks for your note.

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